Saturday, February 13, 2016

Looking for Love? Better Think About the Words You Use

Online dating services are a HUGE business now. People are looking for relationships, companionship, marriage partners, and even just friendships and they're using these services to find what they're looking for. And, to do this, they need to fill in profiles. This means they need to use WORDS! They need to write effectively.

Well, our friends at Grammarly, the team behind the popular writing app, partnered with the online dating website eHarmony to determine whether the writing skills displayed in people’s online dating profiles affect their chances of finding romance. Grammarly summarized the results, along with other online dating statistics, in an infographic.

Valentine's Day Grammar 2016 Infographic

This infographic is attributed to Grammerly.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Ten Climbing Lessons for Writers




I’ve been dabbling in a new hobby—rock climbing.  It’s not the type of activity that I would come up with on my own and is definitely out of my comfort zone.  But, my husband and two adult sons were climbing, so I finally decided to give it a try. It’s been six months and I really enjoy climbing.  Most of my climbing has been in a climbing gym, though I did venture out on the rocks of Sedona.
 
Usually we will start by bouldering— free climbing on a low wall without ropes.  For those who have never been an inside climbing gym, paths are created by colored boulders and you can only put your hands and feet on the color you are attempting to scale.   It took me a while to get comfortable bouldering.  Going up was fine but I was scared trying to get down.   I find the higher walls where you have a harness and ropes much less stressful.  

About a month ago, we went to the gym and I started to boulder.  Half- way up, I came down.  It just   I thought to myself, I don’t think I should climb today.  My husband suggested I try an easier route.  I took his suggestion made it to the top and down, but something still felt off.
Falling Off Wall
didn’t feel right.

One more try…then if I still didn’t feel right, I would stop.

Three quarters of the way up the wall, I reached for the next boulder and fell (about 15 feet).  Dazed,  and neck when I landed.  I knew I shouldn’t have been climbing that day.  I also knew after the fall, that I better climb one more time or I might never climb again.

I stood up, the inside of my head and my neck hurt from whipping my head
I discovered that the lessons I learned about climbing apply to writing.

1.       Stay on the Path – Like following a colored coded trail when bouldering in a gym, you need to create your writing path and write.  Identify a dedicated time for writing in your week.  Your writing time is not for emails, surfing the web, or social media. Just write!

2.       Find people to encourage you and guide you – Climbers watch each other scale the wall and provide suggestions on how to master a trail.  An effective critique group can help you find a new direction for your story or polish your manuscript.   Critique partners are there to urge you on, when you’ve hit the writing wall, or cannot muster the physical intelligence to complete a climbing route.

3.       Listen to your internal voice – The day I fell off the wall, I should have listened to my internal voice and called it quits for the day.  Sometimes when working with agents and editors, you can get conflicting advice or be asked to do a rewrite that just doesn’t seem right.  A friend of mine’s agent recently had her rework her manuscript before she sent it out to publishers.  She didn’t agree with the changes, but made the changes.  After it was shopped around to a few publishing houses, the feedback she received was to go back to her original approach.  Sometimes too many voices get in a writer’s head.  It’s a delicate balance to know when to follow your intuition and when to listen to the critiques you are receiving.

4.       The only way past your fear is through your fear.  To be honest, I’m afraid of heights.  I just had to climb to get past my fear.  As a writer, what frightens you?  Are you afraid of rejection?   The only way to get past the fear of rejection is to submit your  writing for publication.  When you receive a rejection, instead of being demoralized, celebrate the fact that you are one step closer to finding the right publishing house.

5.       When you reach…make sure you footing is solid.  – When I fell off the wall, I reached without being in a stable position.  New writers often are so excited about getting published that they submit their work before it is polished.  If you don’t know the basics of writing and the publishing industry, you are not ready to submit for publication.   WOW! Women on Writing is a great resource to develop a strong foundation for your writing.

6.       After a big fall, get back-up and try again. – Did you recently receive a rejection letter?  Have you been unsuccessful in obtaining an agent?  Just keep writing, revising and when you are ready, submit your manuscript. Keep doing it, and it will become a path you have climbed before!

7.       You need instruction and training – Whether you are writing or climbing, studying with experts will enable you to move your work along.  I had to take a ropes class before I could belay someone else who was climbing under my guidance. You will need to learn beats and rhythm before you can write a rhyming picture book. 

8.       Take a break – At the climbing gym, when I need a break, I go to something else.  There’s yoga, weights, juice bar, internet, big comfy chairs, or even a ping pong table. There are times during your journey as a writer when it’s a struggle to make a story work.  My critique partner was struggling with a piece and she said it was making her brain hurt.    She needed to put the story away and do something else.  Sometimes working on another piece is enough, but sometimes you just need to get out of your writing chair and move. 

9.       Practice…Practice…Practice – It’s been more than a month since I’ve been to the climbing gym and I know I won’t be able to climb routes that I’ve already mastered.  The more you keep climbing or writing, the stronger your writing or climbing muscles become.

10.   Enjoy the journey — It’s not about reaching the top, it’s about the climb.  Being a writer is a journey.  Have fun and enjoy the process. You will feel great the next day, even if a little sore!






Mary Jo Guglielmo is a writer, educator, and life coach.   For more information check out DoNorth.biz
 


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Famous Love Story Endings - Spoiler Alert

We have a new friend over at Unplag.com and they have a great infographic on Famous Love Story Endings. With love in the February air, check it out. Just be aware it's kind of a 'spoiler' if you haven't read the book yet!

Famous Love Stories Endings

This infographic is attributed to Unplag.com.

Please let us know what you think of this infographic!

Thanks for sharing with us, Unplag.

MORE ON WRITING AND MARKETING

Self-Publishing – 3 Tips to Help You Avoid the ‘I Want It Now Syndrome’
5 Ways NOT to Attract Editors
The Magic of Word-Count Graphs








Wednesday, February 10, 2016

5 Ways to get Unstuck


It happens to everyone, whether you are a working writer or someone who writes for their business. You get stuck!

There is little more frustrating than being on deadline and at literal loss for words. The trick: find something else to write and prime your engine. Think of it like writing warm ups. You'll be writing what you need to in no time.

Here are 5 quick things you can do to get the writing engine going.

1. Write a Review. Did you just have a terrible experience at a store or restaurant? Or a particularly awesome one? Take five minutes and write a review Whether or not you post it or send it to the establishment is up to you. But usually if you are passionate about something - and have something to say - the words just flow.

2. Make a List. This can be a grocery list, plot points, future article topics. Anything. 
Just start writing. Lists are so easy. You can even make a list of types of lists to make when you get stuck in the future.

3. Rant. Is someone or something bugging you? Did your neighbor do something incredibly rude? Is a client being extremely difficult? Get it out of your head and onto paper. You may be stuck from being preoccupied. The sooner you release that energy, the more likely you will refocus and get writing.

4. Rave. If you are having a bad day, it takes a little extra effort to look at the bright side. So, go ahead and look ... even it requires squinting. Think about something that makes you happy (or something for which you are grateful) and write about it. It will put you in a better mood and help change your perspective on your "stuck" project.

5. Write a Letter. This can be a real live snail mail letter or a quick email reply. Writing is writing. Do a few have-tos or want-tos to get in writing-mode.

If you need or have more than 5 minutes to get unstuck, try these bonus tips.

Bonus Tip #1: Journal. Kind of like ranting and raving, get the extra thoughts out of your head and down on paper. It will help you clear your mind, so you can be more productive. Journal for 5 minutes or 15. Whatever it takes to get out of your head and back into writing.

Bonus Tip #2: Take a Break. Walk around the block. Or walk around your home. Meditate. Exercise. Do something to give yourself a jolt and refocus.

Bonus Tip #3: Work on Something Else. I generally recommend people have more than one project to work on simultaneously. That way, when you get stuck on one, you can move forward on the other. Put some effort into another project. Once you are motivated to work on one, allow that momentum to move your other project forward.

The most important thing to remember when you get stuck is you are not alone. Take a breath. Shake it off. And move forward. You can do it!

How do you get unstuck? Leave your tips and tricks in the comments. 

* * *
Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Guided Goals and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. 

She is the host of the Guided Goals Podcast and author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. 

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


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Randomness to Spark Creativity


A while back I was playing with an online story idea generator. It puts random things together and gets ideas like this:

What if Marco Polo fought Lewis Carroll?
What if Columbus had access to robotics?
What if Montezuma was indirectly responsible for the Klondike Gold Rush?
What if the destruction of the Hindenburg involved witch-hunters?

So I had to laugh when I got to this one:
What if the fall of Mankind from the Garden of Eden involved forbidden knowledge?

It reminded me of the theory that a room full of monkeys tapping at keyboards for an infinite time period will eventually type Hamlet.

As a writer, I'm full of ideas, but sometimes none of them are the right idea for the moment, or they're just not gelling.  When I need inspiration, sometimes the randomness of these generators will spark an idea that my imagination then builds a fire with.  

You'll find all sorts of generators online: completely random but sometimes intriguing nonsense like above, customizable back-cover blurbs created from information you input, alien world generators, etc.  Obviously, your own imagination should do most of this for you, but taking a few minutes to laugh at the randomness will prime your creative pump if you find you're stuck in a rut.

Here's Seventh Sanctum's What-if-inator, where I got the above what ifs.



Melinda Brasher currently teaches English as a second language in the beautiful Czech Republic.  She loves the sound of glaciers calving and the smell of old books.  Her travel articles and short fiction appear in Go NomadInternational LivingElectric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and others.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  For something a little more medieval, read her YA fantasy novel, Far-KnowingVisit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

So, Can't Anyone Give Me Some Details for Writing a Great Pitch?

People tell authors to pitch to the media; they even tell us how to write a pitch. But only sort of. Don't you wish they would occasionally tell you how to do that? And do it effectively? 

Here are seven things your pitch can do to keep a gatekeeper interested long enough to book you:
1.   A headline or first sentence must capture the reader. Here are ideas for doing that? 

  • Use a statistic that is so off-the-wall that it’s hard to believe (but it’s true).
  • Make an outrageous statement. 
  • Be so clever with rhyme, alliteration, or pun that the gatekeeper just plain wants to read some more. 
  • Make it be about something that is somehow so closely related to the media gatekeepers' demographic (meaning their reader or audience) that it will be immediately obvious how it will fit into their own plans or business needs. Make it even better by letting them know you know it does relate because you read their magazine or column or blog.

2.   Throw in adjectives. No, not “awesome” or “great.” That’s up to them to decide if your story idea is awesome or great.  Words like “award-winning,” “multi award-winning,” “bestselling” or “two decades of experience” do work, though.
3.   Actually be about something more than “I published a book.” Substance. Concrete. Useful. Powerful. Think “benefits” when you write this sentence or paragraph.
4.   Offer exclusivity.  Maybe offer exclusivity with a deadline. You can make that offer to someone else when that deadline passes. 
5.   Let the media know that you are equipped to handle their needs. With experience in radio (or whatever) as an example. With Toastmaster experience. As a team leader and speaker in the business world.
6.   Close with a sentence that makes it clear you’d like to provide them with anything that would make their job easier.
7.   Don’t ask questions. It’s your job to make it so clear they won’t have to ask any.

So, what sells? If you can angle your pitch around current new, sex, money, kids, celebrity, better health, travel or sports, go for it. You’ll be ahead of the game. Just make sure you send your pitch to the right editors/gatekeepers for each topic. Celebrity? Entertainment or politics. Money? The business section of your newspaper. Kids? Some women’s magazines. You get the idea.

Bonus Tip:  Know how to write killer query letters. You can get tips right from the mouths of agents who share their pet peeves with The Frugal Editor.  And, step-by-step guidelines for all your PR sales tools with The Frugal Book Promoter



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 Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the PlaceHarkening: A Collection of Stories RememberedTracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisherThe multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor