Writing Tips: Acknowledgements Page a Must!

"Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."
                                                                      Marcel Proust
The final hour of self-pubbing my first book--a children's novel--is ticking away. Checked off on my final--fini--the finale--list:
  • Ms revised, edited, released to the universe and ready to go
  • Artwork complete by a talented and terrific illustrator
  • Book blurb ready to adorn the back cover
  • Website/blog up
  • Marketing plan set
Every Book Should have One
But wait. Any last-minute parts missing? You bet: the acknowledgements page! I put the question to one of my editors: should I include an acknowledgements page? She said, "Every book should have one."

Off to Google I went for my usual check-up, and I found a dissenting viewpoint (!). Though that didn't seem possible, sure enough an article was published in The New Yorker titled, of all things: "Against Acknowledgements," by Sam Sacks. Surprise! Believe it or not, there were parts I actually liked about Sacks's argument. Sacks makes clear that he is "as mindful as anyone of the pressures on the literary marketplace and the challenges of getting a novel bought and published; and the traditionally invisible work of editors is not only necessary but sometimes no less rigorous than the effort the author went to in composing the manuscript," (thank goodness). But in a nutshell, here are his reasons for opposing it:
An acknowledgements page at the end of a book can cloud the finale when it is, "in effect, an advertisement for a book the reader has already finished."
From Sacks's article, however, I did come away with two excellent nuggets to tuck away:
  • Save your thank you's for your Website, or
  • Include them in small print on the copyright page.
All in Favor, Say Aye
After careful consideration, I've decided to include an acknowledgements page as one of the last pages in my book. But who to thank and who must I leave out? According to Greenleaf Book Group, the acknowledgements page should be kept to one page. "A good rule of thumb is to stick only to the people who helped you directly in writing and producing the book . . . Common acknowledgment ideas are family members, sources for nonfiction pieces, your editor and designer/illustrator, your publisher, and your book mentor." Also, "Be parsimonious in your praise of animals, too. Sorry, Spot."
Here is an example of the people I'm most grateful to:
  • I've mentioned the courses I've taken in hopes of helping writers who have read my book and dream of writing their own book one day to know where to look to learn how and receive support.
  • Authors and editors such as Karen Cioffi, author extradinaire and owner of www.writersonthemove.com, and Carolyn Howard-Johnson, who writes for WOTM and never tires of helping writers, especially in her books, The Frugal Editor, The Frugal Book Promoter, and How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically; who have mentored me, offered their friendship, and are there for me when I need their help.
  • My family, who have given me their support and encourage me through many years of trial and error.
  • My readers who have read early drafts of my book and some who have shared it with their children and have offered invaluable advice.
  • The professionals at my publisher for their expertise and unfailing support.
  • My critique group who have offered advice and encouragement.
  • And the illustrator of my book, whose enchanting illustrations have made the characters come alive.
My book would not have been possible without my family members, friends and colleagues' advice and support. It is most gratifying to include them and give them my thanks in each and every copy of my book.

Handshake image by Sam Garner, AU, courtesy of: https://thenounproject.com.
Caption courtesy of: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/

Really? It takes drafts
three feet+ tall to write a book?
Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she has completed her first book, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, and is hard at work on Book Two in the series.  Follow Linda at www.lindawilsonauthor.com.

Plotter or Pantser

Are You a Plotter or Pantser?
What is your preferred method of writing. Do you like to write freely with little more than a main idea as your direction? Or, do you prefer to outline your story or novel first, then allow your fingers to fly over the keyboard? I find that I write with more clarity and more efficiently if I have a plan. When I just “go for it” with little more than a main idea my rewrite is so laborious that I avoid tackling it for weeks at a time. So, I prefer to outline the basics of what I want to say, and let my creativity fly within that framework.

Considering what Plot is can be confusing. If Plot is “what happens”, why does the discussion instantly branch out to character development, inciting incident, tension building to the climax, etc., etc., etc. The answer is—story plot and story structure always go together. You cannot have one without the other.

Plot is “what happens” in a story. In essence, Plots are the events that move a character from one point to another shaping the story with conflict: inward and outward, emotional and physical. Each event brings an element of tension and conflict to the story. What should be the first step to developing the plot? Knowing what we want to say—then theme, and the creation of a main character, the protagonist.

The protagonist needs an intense goal with obstacles in the way of the goal. He or she must overcome each obstacle to reach the goal. The path through each event is dynamic as internal and external conflicts arise.  This drives the action of the plot forward, and grabs our reader’s interest in such a way that they don’t put the book down. 
Writing a story involves creativity and discovery. Ask yourself questions to uncover the events, the setting, and the conflicts. Ask, ask and ask some more. Follow the answers and keep asking why? Important connections will follow from this way to discovery.

A one-sentence premise is essential to a strong story. The premise will serve as a map to guide and focus the writing. It is a tough job to condense the story idea to one sentence, but it’s important and will be used again, and again as you pitch your book to agents, publishers, and consumers.

Plotting is an involved journey. Have fun with it!
Deborah Lyn Stanley is a writer, artist, and editor.  She is a retired project manager who now devotes her time to writing, art and caregiving mentally impaired seniors.  Deborah writes articles, essays and stories. She has published a collection of 24 artists’ interviews entitled the Artists Interview Series.  Careful editing preserves the artist’s voice as they share their journey. The series published as monthly articles for an online news network, can also be found on her web-blog: Deborah Lyn Stanley - Writers Blog.  Her “How-To” articles have appeared in magazines. 
“Write your best, in your voice, your way!”

Does Your Business Card Include the Basics?

By W. Terry Whalin

Because of my years in publishing and attending many conferences, I've become an expert at skimming business cards on the spot with writers. My actions spring from my own frustration with missing information. Over the years, I've exchanged thousands of cards with people at writer's conferences. When I did not glance at the card on the spot, I would tuck it into my pocket, take it home, then discover missing information like a phone number or email or mailing address. As an editor, it would force me to email this person and gather the missing information (wasting time and energy).

The best time to gather this missing information is when you are meeting face to face with this person. Recently I was in Nashville for a Morgan James Publishing author event. I met a number of authors at this event and exchanged business cards. One of these authors, a medical doctor-turned-writer-podcaster, lived nearby in Boulder, Colorado. When we exchanged cards, I glanced at the information and it only contained his website. There was no email address nor phone number. He said, “My email address is on my website and I want people to go to my website.” It was good to know he had a rationale for the missing information—but I still collected it on the spot and wrote his email and phone on his business card. Others might not have his information from his business card but I gathered this important data on the spot.

When I attend events, my business card is one of the key tools that I use. Some of my long-term friends are amused at the changes in my business card over the years. I've added and improved my cards. Each time I reprint, I evaluate the information to see if it contains what I need. Because I work for a New York publisher, I have a business card which contains my photo, direct dial phone number, work email, and other information. Here's my Morgan James business card:
Whalin Morgan James business card - front
Whalin Morgan James business card - back
Yet I live in Colorado and I'm also an author with my own blog, local mailing address and books. In recent years, I've been carrying two business cards. The local card shows off this information. Here's my personal business card:

Whalin Personal business card - front
Whalin Personal business card - back
Since I've shown you what I'm using for my business card. Now take a minute to review your card and make sure it includes the basics:

*a current photo

*your phone and email address

*your physical address (or at least your city to give the receiver your time zone)

*twitter name

*blog website

*giveaway to build your email list (one of the most important author tools)

How did you do on the basics? Are you missing something? The most difficult element to proofread is something that is missing. That's why we need a checklist to make sure you cover everything. If you are missing some element maybe it's time to reprint your business cards.

Let me know your experience with business cards in the comments below.


Business card basics. Get the details to make sure you aren't missing something here.  (ClickToTweet)
W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 books including his latest, Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist. Also Terry has written for more than 50 magazines and lives in Colorado. Follow him on Twitter where he has over 214,000 followers.
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Must You Write Every Day?

If you’re trying to become a successful writer, most people will tell you to write every day.

And generally, that is good advice.

However, I think it’s more important to write regularly than it is to write every day.

In fact, when someone thinks they must write every day in order to be a “real” writer, and then they are unable to do that, they often give up and quit writing altogether.

And I think that’s not only a mistake, it’s a real shame.

Why You Don’t Have to Write Every Day

As long as you create some sort of regular writing schedule for yourself, I don’t think you must write every day.

At least not every day of the year.

In fact, I know some very successful authors (with many books to their credit) who don’t write every day.

They don’t even write every month.

They have their writing months and their marketing months.

During the months they set aside for writing, they write.

They develop the manuscript for a new book during this time.

During their marketing months, they market their books – the ones already published or a new book that has just been released or is about to be released.

If these authors got the memo that said, “Real authors must write every day”, they would have stopped writing long ago. Instead, they created a writing schedule that worked for them.

You should do the same thing.

First, take a look at your writing goal or goals.

What do you want to accomplish as a writer in the next few months?

Next, look at your schedule for the coming months.

How much time can you devote to writing?

Is your goal realistic when you consider the amount of time you can work towards it?

If the goal isn’t realistic because you simply won’t have enough time to work towards it in the next few months, change the goal.

Usually, this just means creating a narrower goal.

Once you have created a more realistic goal, use your calendar to set up a regular writing schedule for the coming months.

If you know you’re planning to take two weeks vacation in August, for example, don’t plan to get any writing done during that time.

But do plan to double up on your writing for a few days or a few weeks once you return from vacation.

Are you usually very busy during the holidays (most people are)?

Then don’t schedule any writing sessions during that time.

Instead, plan to write before or after the holidays.

Create specific and realistic writing goals, and specific timeframes for working towards those goals and you’ll be able to become a successful writer.

Sometimes you’ll write every day.

Other times, you write very little or not at all.

But it won’t matter because you’ll still meet your writing goals, and that’s really what matters.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, certified life coach, and the author of over 30 published books.

For more tips, resources, and other helpful information about writing and the business of writing from Suzanne, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at www.morningnudge.com.

5 Things to Write During a Power Outage

I don't know about your part of the world, but it is super-hot in sunny Southern California. There have been power outages throughout the city, and last night it was my neighborhood's turn. 

This got me thinking ... what can you do during a power outage ... aside from hoping your food doesn't spoil or you don't melt.

As I was waiting for my lights - and air conditioner - to come back on, I came up with this list. I wanted to save the battery on my computer, so I grabbed pen, paper, and my Huglight flashlight.

Here are 5 things you can work on when the power goes out.

1. Draft an Article. Whether you're on a deadline or there's a story or essay you've been meaning to write, draft it out on a piece of paper. You can do an extra edit when you transfer it to your computer later on.

2. List Ideas. Let your mind run wild. Brainstorm ideas for upcoming articles, stories, books, screenplays, poems, etc. Or start writing them.

3. Outline a Story. Did you just come up with a fabulous idea for a plot? Write it out in as little or much detail as your want. 

4. Work on Character Development. I think the most fun part about writing fiction is creating new characters. Spend some time and really get to know them.

5. Journal. My favorite go-to writing activity is journaling. Get everything - good, bad, fiction, non, ideas, issues, etc. - out of your head and onto the page. Then you can reboot and revisit, or not, at a later date.

There are plenty of creative things you can do when you waiting, whether it's for an appointment, standing in line, or for your electricity to come back on. Besides the time passes much more quickly when you are being productive.

What do you do when your power goes out? Do you spend it being creative? Please share in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group

She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the Guided Goals Podcast.

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Amazon Giveaways

I've been eyeing Amazon Giveaways for a while, now that they work for e-books as well as physical items. Giveaways help create buzz, cultivate potential future readers, and possibly earn those much-needed reviews.

So yesterday I decided to try it.

You can run a giveaway on any item you like, even if it's not yours, but I did it for my new e-book. Another idea is to give away prizes that are somehow related to your book. Then you can change the settings to make it less public and send the link only to your readers as a sort of loyalty reward. Various other possibilities make this a versatile tool.

This is how a giveaway goes:

-Go to your book (or whatever item you want to give away) and click on “Set up a Giveaway” near the bottom.

-Buy as many copies as you want to give away (so doing this on a sale day might be a good idea, depending on your pricing). You can choose from 1-50 copies, which means it's economical to play around and do small test giveaways. Pay as normal through Amazon. If you're giving away your own book, you will recoup some of this money as royalties when the sale goes through.

-Set various parameters, like if you want a random drawing at the end or if you want, for example, every 100th entrant to win.

-Decide what people must do in order to enter. Possibilities include following you on Amazon or Twitter, tweeting a message, watching a video, or answering a poll. You can also do it without requiring anything from the entrants, but I think getting followers or having people tweet about your book would be helpful marketing tools. It's a bit unclear how useful Amazon followers are. You can't see how many you have or contact them directly, but Amazon supposedly sends them e-mails when you publish new books or have other big events. Amazon may also ask you to write messages which they send on to your followers. If anyone has experience with this, it would be interesting to see in the comments below.

-Create a title for your giveaway.

-Write a short welcome message, a message to people once they've entered, and a message to the winner/winners (maximum 250 characters each). Look at some other giveaways to see examples of their welcome messages (usually a snappy contest or product description) and decide what will work best for you.

-Upload a photo of you (or your logo, etc). Don't upload your book cover here, as they'll automatically show the book cover below and you don't want to duplicate. Something went wrong with my picture, as it didn't appear when the giveaway went live. Unfortunately there's no preview.

-Submit it. Mine went live within a few minutes, though it can take several hours.

-Post your link on your social media, blogs, etc. For legal reasons, be sure to include wording like “enter for a chance to win,” not “enter to win.”

For more information, see Amazon's FAQs.

My Experience So Far:

In the first 4 hours that my giveaway was live, without me doing any advertising at all, 129 people entered the contest, and they all had to follow me on Amazon to do so. Then the rate slowed so that in 24 hours the number was about 180. 

 Obviously I wish one of the requirements were to subscribe to my mailing list, but it still seems a positive thing. Now I'm going to do a bit of promotion and see what happens.

If you're interested in Alaska, or just want to see how it works, check out my giveaway: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/76034327196b88cf

Your Experience?  

If any of you out there have done Amazon Giveaways, we'd all love you to share your wisdom in the comments below.

Being an Arizona girl, Melinda Brasher loves glaciers, streams, whales, bald eagles, and real trees with green leaves.  That's why she's in love with Alaska.  If you want to see a bit of Alaska for yourself, check out her latest book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; A Cruise and Port Guide.  Read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.

Mindfulness and Writing

The other day I was in the grocery store and saw on the cover of Time Magazine the words “Mindfulness” with a corresponding story inside. Mindfulness has become the new buzz word. I recently attended a webinar to incorporate mindfulness into the classroom. I’ve been practicing mindfulness for about 5 years now. So, what is this crazy all about and can it help with our writing?

Mindfulness, at least to me, means to be aware of yourself in the present moment. If you stop right now and think about yourself sitting wherever you’re sitting and reading this article and experience the feeling of being aware of yourself in the present moment, what do you feel? If you feel a sort of exhilaration then followed by anxiety, well, you’re normal. When we are really “present” or living in the moment, it is exciting and thrilling. But, then, suddenly our minds take over and it kind of creeps us out and gives us a sense of anxiety mainly because we’re not used to it. However, with practice, you’ll get more and more used to it and even enjoy it.

When you think about it, life occurs in present moments—not in the future and not in the past. We tend to live in either of these places. We are either making plans for our future and indeed we do need to do this or we are ruminating over something from our past. And as a therapist, I can say that some looking back is necessary for healing. However, we tend to ALWAYS live in either one of these places and not in the present moment. What if we started living in the moment and then moment by moment? It would revolutionalize our lives.

For us writers, we live in shall we say “other” worlds, at least us fiction writers do. We can forget to eat when we’re writing because we are so engrossed in what we’re doing. But, sometimes we feel a bit stuck. We can’t think what to write next. We can’t think of how to bring a character to life or create enough tension in the story or how to write a decent ending. My suggestion to you is next time you feel stuck, take a moment and walk away. Do something else entirely. Play with your kids; play with your dog or cat; play with your spouse; enjoy an outdoor sport; eat something delicious—whatever floats your boat. But, more importantly, though, than just doing this activity is practicing mindfulness while you’re doing this activity. Really be in the moment. When you have done this, it will unstick your mind and when you return to writing, you’ll be surprised at what comes up for you.

I’d like to challenge you to practice mindfulness at least once a day. Take a deep breath and feel yourself in your body being in this moment. And then, by all means, please write about this experience. Come back here and share your thoughts and feelings. Come on writers, let’s become mindful!

Wanda Luthman has her Masters of Arts in both Mental Health Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Rollins College located in beautiful Winter Park, Florida. She has worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Adjunct Professor, and Hospice Counselor for teens. She’s currently a Guidance Counselor at a local High School. She has self-published 4 children’s books (The Lilac Princess, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, Gloria and the Unicorn, and Little Birdie). She belongs to the National Pen Women Organization in Cape Canaveral; the Florida’s Writers Association; Space Coast Authors; and Brevard Authors Forum. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 22 years and 2 dogs. Her daughter is away at college, like Little Birdie, she has left the nest. To download a free ebook, visit Wanda Luthman’s website at www.wandaluthmanwordpress.com and follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wluthman.