Monday, December 10, 2018

Surviving December

This time of year, it's essential to remember balance.

You have extra obligations - social and end of the year wrap ups - along with likely some additional stress. Plus, if you work full time and have side projects, writing and otherwise, you'll find yourself extra over-extended.

Remember, you cannot function if you don't pace yourself.

With that in mind, here are 10 things you can do in December to stay healthy and happy
.

1. Write out your top 3 wins for the year. Look at it whenever you are feeling stressed, discouraged, or like you haven't accomplished enough lately. You have!

2. Go through your todo list for December. Eliminate or postpone any non-essential tasks. Then, in January, eliminate anything you postponed that doesn;t actually need to get done.

3. Take a nap. You know you want to.

4. Say "no" at least three times. You are responsible to yourself, first and foremost. If someone asks you to do something that will not propel you forward - and that you don't have the bandwidth to accomplish - it's okay to decline. And DO NOT explain yourself. It's not necessary.

5. Reward yourself. You deserve it.

6. Eat healthy. Be mindful that you will likely be more exposed to more treats than normal. Don't deprive yourself, but don't over indulge.

7. Workout at least twice a week.  Okay, once. And it can be a brisk walk or a YouTube video exercise. Or just dance to music around your home. Re-read #6 of you need a reminder to stay active.

8. Read a book. You know, the one that's been sitting by your bed for the last three months. It's okay. You can read for a few minutes.

9. Accomplish one more thing. Go through your todo list - the ones that made the cut - and  cross something off of it. You should probably get  it done first, tho. It'll feel great. Trust me.

10. Think about your 2019 goals. You have lots to do. Start planning what you want your wins to be this time next year.

Happy Holidays!

How do you survive December? Please share your recommendations in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of The D*E*B Method: Goal Setting Simplified and 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 #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Make Your Children’s Writing Website Focused

By Karen Cioffi

Is your site on the mark?

As we get caught up in our writing careers sometimes it’s easy to forget to remain focused.

That’s a no-no! It’s important to present a focused brand and site.

Okay, so what are three website must-haves and six tips?

The Must-Haves

1. Create a website using your own name.

As a writer, whether you’re co-writing with someone or not, you need your own website. And, your main (hub) site should have your name in it. This will be your central site linking off to your other related sites.

As an example, my children’s writing site is: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

Now, with this title I have two essential elements covered: (1) my name, (2) the site’s keyword.

The visitor and search engines can quickly determine what the site is about. This is super important for website ranking and authority.
While there are a number of other areas that need your keyword for website optimization, the title is one of the top ones.

Note: In this case, when I say “title,” I mean the URL also. Your URL is an optimization tool. It gives the search engines more information the site.

So, using my site above, the URL is http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com

My site’s title and its URL both have the always-important keywords in them. This is focus.

2. Include the niche you write in as part of your URL and website title.

This was touched on in number one above. If you write in only one niche, say children’s historical fantasy, you should have that keyword in the title of your site, as well as in the domain name. Then you can have one site to list all your books. Just be sure to create separate pages for each book.

Tip: It’s really a much better idea to create a separate website for each book, in addition to your central author site. It allows you to create multiple must-have pages for each book. See number 4 in the tips below.

HOT TIP: If your title is too long, it’s better to use the niche keyword, say ‘children’s historical fantasy,’ and omit your name.

Unless you’re Eric Carle, or Kevin Henkes, or James Patterson, you’re name has no search engine value.

3. If you are branding yourself as a children’s writer, keep your site specific to writing for children.

I originally had a problem with this. I ventured into a number of writing arenas including content writing and online marketing. Instead of keeping those areas separate, I brought them into my children’s writing site.

So, why is this a mistake? Well, because of dilution of expertise.

If you’re branding yourself as a children’s writer, the focus of your site must be children’s writing. If you promote yourself as ‘doing this, that, and the other thing,’ you’ll become known as the ‘jack of all trades and master of none,’ – dilution of expertise.

TIP: If you’re also involved in other writing arenas as I am, create a separate sites for promoting yourself as an expert in those areas. You wouldn’t want to have your steamy romance books listed on your children’s writing site.

Remember, whatever your site’s niche is, keep it focused on that niche.

6 TIPS for a Better Website/Blog

1. Always have an about page on each of your sites, include a short bio and photo.

2. Always have an opt-in box (for your mailing list) readily visible on your sites.

3. Always make sure your visitors can easily find how to contact you – a contact page is a good idea.

4. Have a page for reviews of your books, excerpts of your books, testimonials, illustrations, awards, etc. You can also link to interviews others have done about you and your books. (This is where a separate site for each book comes in handy.)

5. Offer a resources and/or tools page. The visitor will appreciate this and hopefully share your site with others and link back to it.

6. Get a book trailer or video on your site. Mix it up. People love visuals.

Using these tips will help you create a focused and reader/search engine optimized children’s writing website.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. She is also an author/writer online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

You can check out Karen’s e-classes through WOW! at:
http://www.articlewritingdoctor.com/content-marketing-tools/ 

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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Dr. Judith Briles Gives Away Million Dollar Speaking Secrets


Because of ethical conflicts, I rarely review books. Occasionally I make an exception when a book that can help the publishing industry in some way comes along. This is one of those times. As you will see, authors interested in publishing have needed the latest information possible on the best marketing device for success ever for a long time. Ta da! Now comes Dr. Judith Briles’ How to Create a $1,000,000 Speechthe kind of advice that comes from experience!  
CHJ

TITLE: How to Create a $1,000,000 Speech
AUTHORS: Dr. Judith Briles
PUBLISHER: Mile High Press, LTD.
ISBN:  978-1885331-67-0
293 pages, $25.00
PRINT LINK: https://amzn.to/2DuaXp7
GENRE: Nonfiction
CATEGORY: Speaking/Careers


Reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, 
author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers

My first serious introduction to self-publishing was at a SPAN conference in Atlanta (Small Publishers of North America); it was there I was introduced to a very fat volume on self-publishing by Marilyn Ross that included the idea that real publishing includes marketing. She also applauded speaking as the best wayto market a book—read that as the most assured path to success.

Since then, I have recommended a couple of super speakers’ books to my clients and in the appendixes of my #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers and, I’ve pointed to the writing (and speaking) career of the late Dan Poynter as an example of how well speaking benefits a writing career—and vice versa. 

Now, years later, Dr. Judith Briles, adds her How to Create a $,000,000 Speech to the battery of my choice for “Best Books on Speaking.” And trust me, it is not a long list! 

Though the title may seem as if it is promising more than speaking can deliver, it is not. I have seen speaking make many authors a ton of money over the years and build writing careers as it does so. One side-benefit that always appealed to me: Travel.

Have I convinced you of the possibilities? Then the next step is to study up.  And may I suggest you start with Briles’ book? For the fun of it. For the enthusiasm and inspiration between those royal purple covers. And for the all-in-one-place advice you’ll get on the process. 

Patricia Tripp, CSP and Past President of the National Speakers Association, said it perfectly and I can’t beat that: “Learning from Judith Briles could well be your best purchase of the year.” 

It boils down to experience. And, of course, Judith’s near-unique ability to tap that experience and organize it into a book you won’t want to put down or relegate to a bookshelf. Not when you can keep it near your computer to nudge you toward your speaking goal a little each day.

MORE ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The
books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won multiple awards. That series includes both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoterand The Frugal Editorwon awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethicallyis her newest how-to book and her newest poetry book is Imperfect Echoes.

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. 
                  
The author loves to travel. She has visited nearly ninety countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague, as well as USC, her alma mater. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her website iswww.howtodoitfrugally.com



Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Book Summary – Five Must-Know Components


After your book query, the book summary or description is the most important marketing element. You can think of it as number 2 on the book marketing ladder.

Once your book query gets the reader to actually read it, the summary is what will entice the editor or agent to ask for more.

If you’re writing fiction, this means taking your novel, short story, or other fiction genre and reducing it, condensing it, to around 200 words. Many authors, especially new ones, have a difficult time with this. How do you turn a 35,000 children middle grade book into 200 words? How do you turn a 250,000 word novel into 200 words?

Impossible!

Well, as impossible as it may seem, that’s what you need to do to get your manuscript out your door and into a publishing house.

So, what’s involved in writing a ‘killer’ book summary?

According to Margaret Fortune, in an article at Writer’s Digest, the “synopsis [summary] is about one thing: Convincing an agent [or editor] to read your book.” (1)

Again, you book query made the editor/agent look, but it’s the summary that will have her wanting more.

The summary breaks the manuscript into five primary components:

1. Main characters

Once the reader gets to the point of reading your summary, you need to provide an engaging protagonist (main character). This very brief portrayal must demonstrate the protagonist’s individuality. The reader must be able to relate to the character through some trait, goal, peculiarity, or other.

In my middle grade fantasy adventure, the protagonist didn’t want to labor in the fields like his father. He wanted more. He wanted to find the Eternals, a mystical group who had extraordinary powers. In fact, he obsessed over finding them.

This gives the protagonist a particular characteristic. It sets him apart. 

2. Plot, including setting

This is one of the toughies. You want to be descriptive, but you need to make it lean. Give enough, but don’t give too much.

According to the article Shrink Tank by Grace Bello, “The key is to entice, not to reveal all.” (2)

TIP: A helpful way to condense your story is to first create 10 different elevator pitches for it. These are one or two sentences that you could convincing get out within a 30-60 second elevator ride.

Once you can narrow the manuscript down to an elevator pitch, you should find it easier to write a 200 word overview.

3. Tone

The tone is established through phrasing and even word choices, such as positive or negative words. The tone is subjective – it’s the author’s attitude toward the story or components within the story.

Write the summary in the same tone [narrative voice] as the book. If it’s humorous, make the summary humorous. If it a mystery or suspense, keep that tone in the summary.

4. Genre
The editor or agent will of course want to know the genre, so be sure to include it.

TIP: If you submit a children’s story to a romance book publisher, that editor won’t be interested in your story – no matter how well-crafted your summary is. So, be sure you research the publishing houses and/or agents you intend to submit your query and summary to. Be sure the accept submissions in your genre.

5. Comparable titles

While years ago, this wasn’t an issue, it is now. Agents and publishers want to know what they can compare your story to.

As an example, my middle grade fantasy, “Walking Through Walls,” is set in 16th century China. It has the elements of respect and honor that the time period conjures
up. If I had to compare it to something similar, I’d have to go with “A Single Shard,” by Linda Sue Park.

This is in no way stating it’s as good as “A Single Shard,” it’s saying that it has a similar tone and mood to that book.

TIP: Be careful with this component. You don’t want to puff your book up by comparing it to a great book. As with my example above, I’d be quick to mention that it’s only comparable in tone and mood.

References:

(1) http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/tips-for-queriers-the-query-the-synopsis-and-the-first-page

(2) The Writer, October 2013, Shrink Tank, page 33.

(3) http://ourenglishclass.net/class-notes/writing/the-writing-process/craft/tone-and-mood/

This article was originally published at:
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2015/12/06/book-summary-five-components/


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. She is also an author/writer online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

You can check out Karen’s e-classes through WOW! at:
http://www.articlewritingdoctor.com/content-marketing-tools/



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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Tips on Adding Flashbacks to your Author Kit

A flashback is a literary device that momentarily departs from a story to a scene in the past. A flashback can be as brief as a sudden thought, a dream, or a memory. Flashback can help give your story depth, and make your main character more interesting. As Diane O’Connell, author of The Novel-Maker’s Handbook, put it on her blog, “Used wisely, flashbacks can add richness, emotional resonance and depth to your novel.”

“Flashbacks can thicken plots, create dynamic and complex characters, reveal information otherwise left unspoken, or surprise the audience with shocking secrets. A large part of a character’s essence can be found in the past and the memories which resurface over time.” https://literaryterms.net/flashback/ (Helpful examples of flashbacks can be found on this site as well.)

“Using flashbacks wisely” is the key. If you’d like to try using flashback in your story, follow these tips and read the articles suggested at the end of this post, and you’ll be good to go.

The Good News First
When a flashback scene enhances your story:
  • A scene that depicts an incident from your protagonist’s childhood could shed light on her current situation and help your reader understand her better.
  • An incident that occurred before your story began, in a far-off time and place, could enhance your story present. 
  • What has driven your character to act? Something that happened to her in the past? Flashing back to that incident could help explain her motives.
Now for the pitfalls:
  • The biggest disadvantage of flashbacks is that they happened in the past. Not in story time. 
  • Flashbacks need to be done effectively to avoid removing your reader from your story.
Tips for Effective Flashbacks
  • Never start a scene with a flashback.
  • Have a flashback follow a strong scene.
  • Keep flashback brief.
  • Make sure the flashback advances the story.
  • Use flashbacks sparingly.
  • Orient reader at the start of a flashback, in time and space, and transition back to the story present.
  • Tenses: for past tense, use past perfect and simple past; for present tense, use present tense in the entire flashback, and resume story in present tense.
  • Transitioning: Make transitions clear. Use the above tenses to guide readers in and out of flashback.
The following flashback, as Nancy Kress wrote in her Writer's Digest article, does a good job of transition. It’s from Thomas Perry’s mystery novel Sleeping Dogs. Protagonist Michael Schaeffer, a former hit man, has just come upon the site of a multiple murder:

All his old habits came back automatically. At a glance he assessed [everyone’s] posture and hands. Was there a man whose fingers curled in a little tremor when their eyes met, a woman whose hand moved to rest inside her handbag? He knew all the practical moves and involuntary gestures, and he scanned everyone, granting no exceptions. He and Eddie had done a job like this one when he was no more than twelve. Eddie had dressed him for baseball, and had even bought him a new glove to carry folded under his arm. When they had come upon the man in the crowd, he hadn’t even seen them; his eyes were too occupied in studying the crowd for danger to waste a moment on a little kid and his father walking home from a sandlot game. As they passed the man … (From “3 Tips for Writing Successful Flashbacks,” by Nancy Kress.)

Flash Forward
The opposite of flashback is a glance at the future, or the flash forward. Example:

  • The light flashed so bright, Emma had to shut her eyes. She couldn’t know that once she took even a peek, she’d be seeing a ghost.
Flashbacks and flash forwards might come more naturally to you than you might think. While reading a few chapters of my current WIP to my husband today, I was surprised to find a flashback, written before I did my research for today's post. So, now that you know how to slip these literary devices into your own writing, if you haven't tried them yet, you might experiment with them as a way to enhance your own writing. Just keep one guideline in mind: use flashbacks and flash forwards sparingly.

Please note: My post "Live Author Interviews," Part II from last month's post, "Tips on Author Interviews" will be appearing soon.
Sources:
https://www.writersdigest.com/qp7-migration-all-articles/qp7-migration-fiction/3_tips_for_writing_successful_flashbacks 
https://literaryterms.net/flashback/ 
http://www.writetosellyourbook.com/blog/2011/01/21/writing-effective-flashbacks/
Clipart courtesy of: http://clipart-library.com/fireworks-pictures-free-clipart.html 


Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. Her first book, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, is hot off the press and will be available soon. Currently, she is hard at work on The Ghost of Janey Brown, Book Two in the series. Follow Linda at www.lindawilsonauthor.com.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Write for Magazine Publication - series #7



Writing for Magazine Publication is a great way to monetize your writing and test your topic for readership interest. This series has offered tips for magazine publishing. (Topic archive below)

Essays are all about the writer; articles are all about the reader. An essay is an opinion piece. An article is non-fiction text.

Today, we’ll talk about a long form magazine agreement, which may be used when the editor is interested in hiring you to write an article or essay.

Magazine Contract:
Contracts cover all pertinent information, and must be considered point by point. Take it slow and break it down item by item to know the conditions you are committed to deliver.
The main sections and subsections are:

1.       Payment method and rate
a.       Payment upon acceptance or on publication, but typically between 30-90 days
2.       Rights and responsibilities
a.       First North American Serial Rights,
1.        Provides the publisher exclusive rights to be the first to publish your article. Note the time period for this exclusivity, commonly 90 days.
b.      One Time Rights,
1.        Gives the publisher the right to publish your article one time
c.       Second Serial Rights or Reprint Rights,
1.        Grants the publisher a nonexclusive right to publish, one time, a piece already published somewhere else.
d.      All Rights
1.        You are selling all the rights to your article to the publisher—this takes careful consideration. What if you want to publish the article somewhere else? And, what if they rework the piece so much that it’s not yours any longer?
e.       Electronic Rights
1.        This means all forms of electronic media: CE’s, DVD’s, games, apps, etc.
3.       Deadlines and format for delivery, and
4.      Word count

These links may be helpful to you:
Contributor’s Agreement Sample     http://publishlawyer.com/contrib.pdf

Kerrie Flanagan’s new book is an informative resource:
“Writer’s Digest Guide to Magazine Article Writing”  by Kerrie Flanagan

This series offers tips and ideas for magazine publishing: a list of genres or categories and where we find ideas (posted 5.25.18), research tips (posted 6.25.18), standard templates for essay and article pieces (7.25.18), query letters (informal known to editor 8.25.18) and (formal query tips 9.25.18), guidelines for submission (posted 10.25.18), and contracts (posted 11.25.2018), LOA & copyright tips.

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts. Visit her web-blog: Deborah Lyn Stanley : MyWriter's Life .  

Write clear & concise, personable yet professional. 
Know your reader. 
Use quotes & antidotes.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Three Ways to Stand Out to Editors


By W. Terry Whalin

In the United States today, we are celebrating Thanksgiving. It's our annual holiday of gathering with family and friends. It's my honor to contribute to this blog and ironically my regular date lands perfectly on this holiday.

It's always appropriate to express gratitude to editors and agents. In this article, I want to highlight three ways for you to stand out. Admittedly editors and agents get a lot of email—hundreds every day. You can ignore email. You can sit on your delete key and toss them in your electronic trash can. I want to address how to stand out in a positive way from the other writers who are trying to get their attention. I've seen many writers stand out in a negative way. They are memorable but not someone one that an agent or editor wants to help get published.

Here's three simple ways make a positive impression:

1. Deliver Good Writing While many writers believe they have sent an interesting and targeted submission. I've often seen poorly crafted stories and not enough energy put into the concept. Good writing will always stand out and a fascinating story captures positive attention and earns a quick response from the editor or agent. Practice your craft in the print magazine world. If you are writing nonfiction, then learn to craft good personal experience stories. If you are writing fiction, then learn the skill of short stories—and get them published. The experience will be valuable and help you stand out in the submission process.

2. Submit Assigned Writing on Deadline or Early. The majority of writers are late with their assignments. If you pay attention to the deadline and deliver excellent writing on time or early, you will stand out because such attention is unusual. It seems like a small detail but it will make a difference in the impression you make with these professionals.

3. Express Gratitude. Whenever anyone does anything, large or small, make sure you express appreciation. We live in a thankless world where few people write handwritten notes. I make a point to continue to send handwritten thank you notes. My handwriting isn't beautiful and I have to work at clear writing but when I send notes, they make a positive impression. Also when I receive thank you notes after a conference or other occasions, it is appreciated.

Working in the publishing community is all about building and maintaining relationships. Whether you are trying to sell your writing to a magazine or sell a book project to a publisher, you need to continually be aware that every time you connect with the editor or agent, you are making an impression. Make sure you stand out in a positive way.

How are you standing out to editors and literary agents? Let me know in the comments below. 

Tweetable:

Use these three ways to stand out to editors and get positive attention. (Click to Tweet)

-----
W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  One of his books for writers is Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success. One of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has over 205,000 twitter followers.
 

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Surviving December

This time of year, it's essential to remember balance. You have extra obligations - social and end of the year wrap ups - along with...