Sunday, July 29, 2012

Keeping a Journal

I'd like to say I still have every journal from a lifetime of writing. After all, I poured so many thoughts into those pages, secrets I couldn't even share with myself.

My childhood diaries, however, have gone the way of my baby teeth. Just as well. Some things are better left forgotten.

More recent journals are scattered about my home: stacked on the floor, stuffed into the back of shelves, and hidden in boxes in the closet. I wouldn't be surprised if some are propping up second-hand furniture.

Does this mean I'm indifferent to the contents of those half-remembered tomes? I prefer to see them as buried treasure. How much more poignant the words will seem when unearthed years from now. And perhaps their value will have grown during the passing years.

Consider the following description written during a morning freewrite at an oceanfront cottage:

"The way the foam dances ahead of the wave, it looks like nimble fingers on piano keys."

The line stayed in my head for years and eventually evolved into the following poem:

water washed over
cold crescent shore loosely keyed
pebbled concerto

The basic concept had endured but been expanded to include more concrete imagery. If I hadn't captured the description in the moment, however, the poem never would have come about.

Journaling is a valid aspect of any writer's life. Recording your observations on a daily basis provides practice and discipline. Try it for a week--just one page per day--and see if you're not convinced.

You just might realize that there's more to "keeping" a journal than choosing its storage location.


Betty Dobson is an award-winning writer of short fiction, essays and poetry. She also writes newspaper and magazine articles but is still waiting for those awards to materialize. In the meantime, she continues to run InkSpotter Publishing, which has three new books available and several more in the works for 2012.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

PERFECTIONISM

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best. ~Henry van Dyke


When you aim for perfection, you discover it's a moving target. ~George Fisher


These quotes really speak to me today."It's perfect!" My two year old daughter exclaimed, proudly holding a drawing she created in art class. A part of me delighted in her present-centered joy and self -esteem. Another part of me cringed as I wondered if she knows the meaning of the word "perfect" at such a tender age. For many of us , perfectionism is a tool we use to postpone our dreams and procrastinate. Many people I talk to are waiting for those "perfect" conditions to start writing their book, find a soulmate or change careers. Time and experience have taught me that conditions are rarely perfect for beginning any endeavor. As a working mom, I have no desire or time for the old perfectionism that I used to embrace. Sometimes I overcook dinner, don chipped nail polish or leave the house with my hair disheveled. My new goal is to see the perfection in every day, instead of trying to make every day perfect.







How do you define perfect?
 
How can you eliminate perfectionism in your own life and write the book of your dreams?
 
 
 Aileen McCabe-Maucher is the author of the book "The Inner Peace Diet" which was published by Penguin Books and released in December 2008. Aileen is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist who has helped many people find inner peace and discover their unique life purpose. Aileen has worked for over fifteen years as a licensed psychotherapist and registered nurse providing individual and group counseling to a diverse client population. Aileen is currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania and writing her third book.
 
 
Visit www.theinnerpeacediet.com to get your free Inner Peace Diet ecourse/mini book today.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Keep it Simple with Blogging

The busy, busy world crowds into our lives each day and pushes itself (often rudely) into our minds. Some of us have a difficult time shutting our thoughts off as we pull the comforter over us at night. We have goals and objectives and deadlines - all taking turns showing up in our thoughts for the next day or week.

Sometimes life has to come in sound bites.

Writers have much to say. And we like to say it! We are thinkers. We can look at a person, an object, a situation, and create a story. But with blogging: keep it simple.

Sometimes one solitary flower speaks more than a whole bouquet.



With writing my own blog, which is partly to build my platform, but also to bring hope and encouragement to someone who may be hurting, I have come to realize that less is best - for me writing it and for the one reading it.

I have also come to understand that writers have a tendency to go on and on and on - like a good cook on Thanksgiving Day - good food but waaaaay to much!

So I will end. right. now! 


Kathleen Moulton is a freelance writer and nature lover. She is married, has 8 children, ages 10-28, and has been homeschooling for 25 years. You can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at http://kathleenmoulton.com/

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Criminal Behavior



            Psychologist Abraham Maslow gave us some rules that govern basic human behavior. These rules have become the foundation to understanding criminal behavior. Human motivation is described in terms of a hierarchy of needs. These are placed ito five categories:
            1) Physical - such as food.
            2) Security - concerning things like shelter
            3) Belongingness and love - the desire for roots and a need to be wanted
            4) Esteem - desire to be liked and respected
            5) Self-actualizaion - a need to know and understand our world around us,
                to invent and create, and to discover joy in solving problems.
            Criminals degenerate in behavior, and this is displayed by three basic traits that signify the criminal personality:
            1) Weakness - emotional and/or physical which lacks discipline.
            2) Immaturity - childish egocentrism
            3) Self-deception - a severely narcissistic personality with a distorted
                 sense of personal reality
            Though it is not necessary to go into the details that cause a criminal to become a criminal, a writer must understand the mind of the criminal he/she is writing about. It is just as important to understand what makes your antagonist tick as it is your protagonist. Otherwise how are you going to make your readers understand why the murderer is killing or the robber is stealing? The writer must also develop a feeling of sympathy for the bad guy as well as for the protagonist. It all boils down to a believable story, and the bad guy has a backstory that makes him do the things he does just as the victim does.
            There are some questions you can ask that could help you understand your bad guy:
            1) What is the victimizer’s psychiatric type, and who are the victims? What
                is the victim’s profile?
            2) Where did the crime occur? What was there about this environment that
                 could have facilitated the crime?
            3) What time was the crime committed, and what is the relationship of the
                time to the crime?
            4) What occurred? What types of acts defined as intentional trauma?
            5) How did it happen? What was the injuries; what were the weapons and
                tools used?
            6) What was the motive for the crime?
            There are three characteristics that make up criminal behavior:
            1) They have a dominant ego where what they want is all that is important.
            2) The criminal exhibits dominant childish etal and emotional qualities.
            3) The bad guy has an obsession with sex.
            Developing your bad guy is more than just a physical description or a sad narration of his/her childhood. Just as you do with your protagonist, you must get into the mind of your antagonist. But you do not stop there because once you get into his mind you need to understand it and why he/she is the way he/she is.

Reference:  Malicious Intent
                   by Sean MacTire
                   Published by Writers Digest

Faye M. Tollison
Author of: To Tell the Truth
Upcoming book: The Bible Murders
                           Sarah’s Secret
Member of: Sisters in Crime
                    Writers on the Move
fayemtollison.com
fayetollison.blogspot.com
fmtoll.wordpress.com
              

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Kindle Challenge

Kindle had me clambering around the slippery snakes and ladders of techno-learning this week. There I was happily following Tiffany Dow's  experiences and starting her this month's Kindle Challenge when my Kindle app for PC threw down a challenge of its own.

" Won't. shan't, can't make me," it taunted to every attempt l made to open it.

I booted, rebooted, tried to run it as administrator. crept away and rushed back in the middle of the night when it least expected me.

Tried starting from various icons and through files--nada.

What do you do when your Kindle app with all your edited books and books for review expires?



But then common sense kicks in and you trawl through the search engines to find an answer to the problem.

The Good News

  • You are not alone.

  • Tech support from Amazon may be able to help. Tech support from Kindle forums is excellent.

  • Best of all, not one of the books you've bought from Amazon is lost.  Even the freebies are still there on your Manage My Kindle accounts page.

The Bad News

  • Anything you have acquired through another publisher is not there.
  • You're going to have to be brave and tinker with some hidden files.
  • It takes time you don't have when you're on a deadline.
But then that's when these things always happen isn't it?

The Solution for Windows?

1. Click on Documents and find the folder named My Kindle Content. If you have any non- Amazon books which you want to keep there, back up this file on  flash key or external hard drive.

2.Click on start menu, click on Amazon, click on Kindle for PC and finally uninstall.

3. Check that the uninstall has deleted your Kindle content.

4. Check your user files--that's the folder with the name you gave your PC, usually heading the right hand column on the Start menu--find data apps then open local then Amazon. If nothing has uninstalled there back up that file by copying it onto your flash drive. Only then, shut your eyes and bravely delete. It is essential to remove the kindle.info file.

5. Back to Amazon to deregister your app and download a new one.

6. Remember to register your new Kindle app when you first open it or you won't be able to download your books again.

7. Copy any other Kindle books from your back up drive straight into the My Kindle Content documents folder (each one has three files.)

8. Check all is working well. Treat yourself to a restorative drink and consider yourself an IT whizz kid.


Why Does the Kindle App malfunction? 

I had downloaded some new software which may have disagreed with it. Others find it happens because Amazon updates the app automatically and then it may have software incompatible issues. Sometimes downloading an older version of the app and unchecking the updates box in its menu tab does the trick.

For the moment, mine's as good as gold and l've no more excuses to get between me and writing that long promised eBook.

But l'd be interested to know if anyone else has suffered from Kindle or Kindle App or any other e-reader glitches.

 Oh and if you're looking for more writing challenges find the Writer's Digest popular fiction and short story competitions mentioned at Slow and Steady Writers,

* * * *


 Anne Duguid is a senior content editor with MuseItUp Publishing and   her New Year's Resolution is to blog with helpful writing,editing and publishing tips at Slow and Steady Writers far more regularly than she managed in 2011.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Write a Children’s Book in 14 Days!


Is it possible? Can you do it?

This summer, I bought the software program, How to Write a Children’s Book in 14 Days (or Less!) by Mel McIntyre.  I imagine that many aspiring writers have done the same thing, but how many actually go through each lesson and complete them all -- in two weeks? It’s not easy! It’s very important to set aside time each day during those two weeks. Otherwise, you might not be able to complete the program in the allotted time.

I also am a member of the Working Writers Club and took this class with Suzanne Lieurance.  Suzanne was our coach during the 14 days.  After we registered, she sent us a syllabus and schedule. This was a serious undertaking!

Suzanne also instructed us to read the entire textbook prior to the start of the class. I read most of it. Hmmm . . . there’s that time thing again! However, I did get a good understanding of what to expect during the two weeks.

Suzanne recommended we do some additional reading before we began the class. In the text, Mel gave examples of children’s books. I went to the library and checked out several of the titles she mentioned and read them. I got a better idea of how children’s books are written.

Last year, I started an idea notebook and file for the books I want to write, so I already had something in mind before the class.  I thought it would make the project easier. (I did say this wasn’t easy, didn’t I?)

During the two weeks, Suzanne, my classmates and I, had daily conference calls to discuss assignments, problems, etc.  I was able to participate in most of those calls. There is that time thing again! While the calls were recorded and could be listened to at a more convenient hour, I felt it was important to be there “live.” Luckily, I did not have many appointments or meetings scheduled for those two weeks. On the days that I was not available, I listened to most of the recordings. I think I missed one or two.

I enjoyed using the software program, being part of a class, and Suzanne’s coaching. I got alot out of the experience. But I also hit writers block after one week! My brain did not want to cooperate anymore. I found it difficult to do the daily assignments, but I did what I could.

I’ve been giving my brain a rest and I plan to tackle the program on my own next month.  I will try to complete it in four weeks. This will allow me extra time for the other things that happen in my life, yet gives me a calendar goal to reach.  

I would like to fully utilize what I learned from Mel and Suzanne. Hopefully, a second go-around will improve my writing and my manuscript will be that much closer to being submitted and published.

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is currently working on her first children’s book.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

How Yoga and Aerobic Exercise Can Help Defeat Writer's Block

It seems Writers on the Move is attracting the attention of freelance writers who are promoting online colleges, and today I have another guest article from freelance writer Carrie Lewis.

Writers on the Move accepts high quality and informative content from writers, as long as their promotion is of G rated and quality sites. As long as the content is helpful and/or interesting to our readers and the links are 'okay,' guest articles are welcome.

Now on to the article:

How Yoga and Aerobic Exercise Can Help Defeat Writer's Block

Guest Post by Carrie Lewis

 “Once in a while you have to take a break and visit yourself.” These are powerful words for writers to keep in mind, especially for those trying to defeat the dreaded syndrome known as Writer's Block. This can be quite a challenging condition for writers to contend with because they lose their ability to produce fresh and engaging content, or any content at all for that matter. Even the most seasoned wordsmiths sometimes have to make the unnerving discovery that their writing has become lifeless, devoid of imagination and loaded with repetition. When a writer makes this undesirable discovery, he or she should immediately take a break and find an escape. Yoga and aerobic exercise are two phenomenal activities these stressed writers can turn to in order to refresh themselves. Let's take a look at how yoga and aerobic exercise can help defeat Writer's Block by providing refreshment to the body, mind and spirits.

Yoga

The stretching and deep breathing involved in yoga really helps relax us and leaves us more alert, energized and refreshed. After just an hour of yoga, writers will feel ready to once again return to their work with a renewed sense of creative prowess. When writers experience Writer's Block, they immediately feel down on themselves and negativity seems to pervade their minds. Yoga helps eradicate this incessant negative self-talk, which can destroy creativity. You will build a strong and healthy body by engaging in yoga and you will naturally become better at handling stressful situations.

Aerobic Exercise

Neuroscience has authoritatively proven that aerobic exercise stimulates creative thinking, which makes it a powerful escape for writers to turn to when dealing with Writer's Block. Studies have proven that those who exercise routinely sleep better, which translates to a surge in the flow of our creative juices the next day. The sweat we experience when exercising helps lubricate our brains and makes our thinking more fluid. After we engage in about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, endorphins, feel good chemicals that combat stress or pain, are released in areas of our brains that produce feelings of pleasure and reward. Endorphins minimize the discomfort of vigorous exercise and are associated with feelings of euphoria. This can help writers return to their work with renewed spirits.

All writers experience the dreaded Writer's Block at some point or another. Yoga and vigorous aerobic exercise can help to combat the syndrome by destroying negativity and fostering creativity.

Carrie Lewis is an avid fitness enthusiast, online English instructor for www.TheCollegeCity.com. Carrie has recently started writing her own novel and often turns to yoga and vigorous aerobic exercise to refresh her body, mind and spirits.



Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rejection Letters - How to Keep them from Ending Your Career


If you haven’t received a number of rejection letters, then you’re probably not a writer.  Or at least you’re not a writer who is submitting your work to others for publication.  For many, rejection letters sound the death knell of their career.  Yet it’s not the letters that end a writing career, it’s how a writer responds to those letters.  Giving up on your writing is a choice.

In my early writing days, I decided to consider rejection letters as a sign from the universe that I was a writer moving on the path.  I made a conscious decision to be thankful for each letter. AND when I received a letter with a personal note, I danced (literally) around my living room, thankful that someone thought enough about my writing to either give me encouragement or advice.  I’m in good company with this practice.  The first time Kathyrn Stockett, author of The Help received a rejection letter she was thrilled and called all her friends to share her excitement.  With each rejection letter, she went back to her manuscript to "fix" what wasn't working.  She received 60 more letters saying “no thank you” before she found a home for The Help.

I recently received a letter from someone telling me that she felt blocked and stopped writing because of rejections.  With each rejection she felt like a failure.  If you want to be a “traditionally” published writer then rejection letters are part of the process.  Learning to cope with rejection is critical.  

Below are my 5 rules regarding rejection letters.


1.       If there is constructive feedback and it pings with you – use it. 

After submitting a manuscript to an editor who actually gave me some personal feedback, I knew her comment about the depth of my character was true.  I used her criticism to rework the manuscript and submitted it for an artist's grant. I was awarded the grant.

2.       Don’t believe or embrace the negative. 

Rudyard Kipling was told he didn’t know how to use the English language and Emily Dickinson was told her poems were devoid of any poetic qualities.  They kept writing.


3.       Remember it is a person’s opinion.

A publisher told Fitzgerald, “You'd have a decent book if you'd get rid of that Gatsby character”.

4.       If you believe in your work, don’t let anyone tell you it won’t sell.

Beatrix Potter initially self-published the Tale of Peter Rabbit after it had been turned down many times.

5.       Do something with the letters that reminds you it’s not the end and then JUST KEEP WRITING.
Pat Schmatz, author of the award winning YA Book, Blue Fish papered her bathroom with her rejection letters. When she was ready to move, she had to figure out how to take the letters with her.

At this stage in my writing life when I open the mail and receive a rejection I say to myself: “Hmm, not the right publishing house…that means I’m getting closer to find the right match for my manuscript. Thanks.”

 Do you have a unique approach to dealing with rejection letters?  Can you see yourself trying one of the above suggestions?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Mary Jo Guglielmo is writer and intuitive life strategist.  She helps clients break through their blocks and chart their course of action so they can live their True North.

For more information check out  www.donorth.bizor folllow her at:http://theadvantagepoint.wordpress.com http://www.donorth.biz/personal_sessions.htm
http://www.helpingchidrencope.blogspot.com http://twitter.com/do_north http://facebook.com/DoNorth.biz 





Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Many Hats of Writers


With fewer traditional publishers willing to publish new authors and the overall publishing industry getting harder books published, today's writers must wear many hats by necessity.

Today’s writer has two options, DIY or outsource. Outsourcing can become expensive and some writers may not be able to afford outsourcing, so that leaves DIY.

The hats of DIY that writers must wear.

  1. Writer
  2. Editor
  3. Proofreader
  4. Publisher
  5. Promoter
  6. Marketer
  7. PR person
  8. Video Creator
  9. Retailer/Wholesaler
  10. Booking Agent
  11. Web Designer
  12. Content Creator
  13. Web Manager
  14. Content Manager
  15. Social Media Manager
  16. Networking Manager
  17. Shipping Manager
  18. Bookkeeper
  19. Entrepreneur
  20. Record Keeper
So much for time to write. If you want to be a writer, you’ll find the time to write. No one ever said the writing is easy in today’s writing market.

Writing take dedication and hard work to be successful, whatever that means to you. Only a few writers make it big, the rest work hard and with some luck and hard work can make some money writing.

Writing is a calling, not a way to get rich unless you come up with the next “Harry Potter”, which rarely happens. There is a good deal of luck in making it big. J. K. Rowling the author of the “Harry Potter” series, was rejected 12 times before a friend of her daughter read it and told to her father about how good it was. He took a chance on publishing it, we know how well that went.

If you are a writer that must DIY everything because you just don’t have the money for a literary agent, which can cost thousands of dollars, if you can find one to take a chance on your book, you will have to wear many hats and learn what you need to get your book in front of readers.


This article is to enlighten you about the uphill battle you face as you work toward publication, and getting your book into the reader’s hands.

Robert Medak
Freelance Writer/Blogger/Editor/Proofreader/Reviewer/Marketer



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Real Life Can Challenge the Writing Life








Writing is one of the most important things in my life but this summer I find myself balancing more than I have ever had to before. We are relocating 3 hours away so many of our days are met with traveling back and forth to the new house while trying to maintain the home we live in until it sells. Add in interviewing for a new nursing job for myself and my husband getting adjusted to his promotion and you can have a ball of stress if you allow it. So how do you keep writing, marketing, and social networking at the forefront when life is moving so fast all around you?

Balancing stress, real life activities and writing can be a challenge. Here are some of the tips I have found helpful during this life changing season of our lives.

Get organized: I am reorganizing every aspect of my writing as I prepare to move my home office from our old house to our new home. I spend a couple hours each day going through old papers, getting rid of old information and filing new information that has piled up around me. Pretty file folders make if fun and stand out in my drawer against the plain manila folders I also have. Newer projects get the new fancy folders.

Continue to pursue new avenues: I have continued to look for writing jobs for at least a half hour per day on my regular job sites. My writing resume is updated and I can easily write a quick cover letter to accompany the resume so applying to at least 2-4 jobs per week remains a constant goal. And it works. I have acquired two more paying jobs this month.


Ration writing time: I spend at least 5 hours a week writing the paid assignments I have to do on a weekly basis. The paid blogs I write for are pre-scheduled so I can write them all at the same time or I can grab writing time in short increments and still pre-schedule the posts to appear on the date they are due.

Continue an online presence: While I have limited the time I spend on Facebook and other social networks, I continue to blog, make comments on other blogs, and make 2-4 Twitter posts per day about my writing. I limit the time I am online otherwise I can find myself distracted and under productive, so social networking only takes 15 -30 minutes of my time. I also do some of that on my phone while waiting for my turn at other activities. But the truth is that marketing your work can't wait. Keeping an online presence and marketing yourself and your work will enhance your presence when you get up to full speed again.


Keep the notebook handy: I have a notebook in my bag for jotting down ideas that I don’t have the time to pursue at the moment. I have jotted several book ideas that have come to mind during this move that maybe viable. (Relocating and redefining your life pre-retirement and into retirement when you are not a millionaire may be a lucrative idea)

Relax: It is also important to relax and enjoy the process of writing. Enjoy the real life challenges that you have been asked to face in this life. And enjoy a few hours of free time, reading a good book or relaxing on a beach, resting in the afternoon, or enjoying a hot fudge sundae in front of an old movie. Relaxation allows us to rejuvenate even if we only grab a few minutes.

The important thing is to keep the writing fresh and at the forefront but to know when I have to stay off the computer for a day or two to attend to the move, my husband, and our new adventure. Even when not online though, writing is not far from my heart and a pen and paper are never far from my fingertips.

Terri Forehand

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Gift of Feedback

Feedback, otherwise referred to as constructive criticism, can make the heart beat a bit faster. Each of us, in our lifetime, have been subjected to this feedback, yet society doesn't tell us either how to give or receive feedback well. Consequently, even when our intent is to help another, the feedback we give feels hurtful or mean. With writers, too often, this "constructive criticism" may stop a person from writing.

Some suggestions: When giving feedback:
1. Ask for permission first. "May I make a suggestion . . ." This gives the person the option of saying, "no."

2. Use "I" statements. "I have found . . ."

3. Remember that even though you may appreciate and accept feedback well, others may be more sensitive to criticism. Keep that in mind and adapt your comments to reflect how they may be received by someone else.

4. Do not say something to someone on-line that you would not say if that person was standing in front of you.

Some suggestions: For receiving feedback:
1. Resist the urge to become defensive. Remember, it is difficult to give feedback too!

2. Take a deep breath. You are not perfect. No one is. We all have things we can work on. This is not about whether you are liked or not.

3. Listen. Then find the truth. Okay, so we are all not perfect. We all have things we can work on. Somewhere in the criticism there will be a suggestion that will allow you to take your writing to the next level. The message might be filled with untruths, but somewhere, trust me, will be something that can be taken and used. So consider and evaluate the criticism. Then decide how to act.

4. Ask for help with your writing challenge. If you need it, ask. Trust me, there are people who want to help.

Finally, thank the person who have you a gift, the gift of believing you are worthy of feedback.

_____________________________________



D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a Young Adult Science Fiction series. Her latest book, Flight from the Water Planet, Book 1 of The Exodus Series was written with her coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth  where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.  

She has also compiled a collection of short inspirational material for writers in The Write Balance, Journaling the Writer's Life.
She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at www.djeanquarles.com
Her novels are available in electronic format here, or print format here
You can also follower her at www.djeanquarles.blogspot.com or on Facebook
  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Facebook Timeline Banner



My tip for July is short and sweet...

Want to spruce up your Facebook Timeline Banner? There is a FREE website where you can design your very own Facebook Timeline Banner - http://timelinecoverbanner.com  and it's quite simple. They have step-by-step instructions including templates and the option to upload your own photos.

Samples of Facebook Timeline Banners I've created:

Donna McDine, Award-winning children's author: https://www.facebook.com/DonnaMcDine#

Guardian Angel Kids Ezine: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Guardian-Angel-Kids-Ezine/163785080346247

Carol Fraser Hagen, Literacy Specialist: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003533171478

Be creative and have fun!


BIO:  Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author. Her stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna has four more books under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing, Hockey Agony, Powder Monkey, A Sandy Grave, and Dee and Deb, Off They Go. She writes, moms and is the Editor-in-Chief for Guardian Angel Kids and owner of Author PR Services www.authorprservices.com from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI. Visit www.donnamcdine.com

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Power of Less

I love words.  Because I was so enamored with words, before I could read, I would memorize each page in a book. Then if my parents weren't available, I could "read" to myself. Words were my friends. The more, the merrier. When I became a writer I learned that less is more. 

I don't naturally do well with the writer's scissors. I'm wordy. Most of my edits involve simplifying phrases and cutting unnecessary words . For instance, my opening sentence initially was "I love words, be they written or spoken." Although I liked that last half, the sentence only required the first three words. I have four tools tips that help me make perform surgery on my words.

Create your own cut list. Make a list of common words you can cut. Some examples are:  that, who, there (there is, there are), and, very, really, just, quite, perhaps, but, however, well, also. Using a word search I find each instance of a word. If I can rewrite the sentence or it holds it's essence without that word, it hits the cutting floor. 

Replace or cut repetitive words and phrases. In each piece, we all have words or phrases we overuse. Highlight those words or phrases, then either replace or cut it. In one short story I was able to reduce my word count by fifteen by removing the word apparently. 

Cut by 25%. I write devotions so this is a bit easier for me. If my devotion is 400 words, I cut it down to 300 words. I repeat the process until it is tight but with soul. For novels, you can do this by chapter.

Read it aloud. You can find word flow issues when you read aloud. I've cut words by rearranging and removing sentences that broke up the flow of the piece. This is not always a quick process. But it's worth the effort. 

After applying these tips, you'll find that you didn't need the words that met the scissors. Writing for clarity means determining what's dead wood and removing it. It's not always easy, but definitely necessary. 


About the Author:

Marietta "Mari" Taylor is the the author of Surviving Unemployment Devotions To Go. Find out more about Mari at her blog or her website, www.mariettataylor.net.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

If It Ain't Broke

Whatever happened to the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."? It seems these days everyone is trying to fix things or improve them only to the detriment of the users of said things.

Take for example Google and Gmail, earlier this year Google and Gmail (part of the Google family) revamped everything. The new look on Gmail was very stark and difficult to read; one had to change backgrounds or themes in order to tell where the email box started and ended. If that wasn't enough, blogger dashboards changed, again making it difficult to navigate and really read. Our eyes deteriorate over time and with all this starkness and inability to see where one line ends or begins it makes life a little more difficult. The idea behind any of these updates or improvements is to make life easier, or at least that is my understanding.

I've adapted to a couple of those changes but then Yahoo has to jump on board making changes and making things more difficult. If you belong to any of the Yahoo forums and have signed up for the daily digest as opposed to individual emails to be kept updated on what is happening in the group, you may be aware of the change in the look of the digest. Again, this change has not made things easier but more difficult. My generation has enough difficulties without adding more to the mix. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I wonder who will be the next on board to make changes that supposed to make things easier but only complicate or worsen things. If you don't like the changes Yahoo has made to their digest, let them know. Maybe they will go back to the old version. Not much can be done to change Google's blogger dashboard or email back to the old version but it never hurts to try. Let them know that everything was fine the old way and you want it kept that way.

In writing, it is the same. If you have ways that work for you and someone suggests a new and improved way that is supposed to make it easier for you but doesn't, then you don't have to fix what you are already doing to appease someone else. If whatever you are doing is working for you and it's not broken and doesn't need fixing, then don't fix it. If on the other hand, the suggested change really does make a difference, makes things easier on you or fixes the problem areas you are having, then by all means, definitely embrace the change and make the most of it. Only make changes that are really fixes to broken ways or that will really make things easier on you.

SPECIAL DEALS: I've got some specials running through the month of July, all of which can be found over on my blog - ebooks, afghans and crocheted kindle or nook sleeves and/or tablet sleeves, pluse I've decided to reduce the cost of the chances for the red, white and blue afghan drawing to $1 each. This will be a permanent change and will be posted on both my main website and the JGDS blog soon.

See you all in the postings - E :)

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Elysabeth Eldering
Author of FINALLY HOME, a middle grade/YA paranormal mystery (written like a Nancy Drew mystery)
http://elysabethsstories.blogspot.com
http://eeldering.weebly.com

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Guest Post with Sands Hetherington: How Kids Inspire Us as Writers

I am an old man and live on the edge of town with my two Saint Bernards Dudley and Maggie. Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Sacre is my first children’s book and another is coming out in the fall. And now let me cut to the chase and tell you how Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare came about.

I raised my son John as a single parent from the time he was six. I can't remember exactly: Maybe one night John wanted more story and I was tired of reading and suggested he invent a buddy to go off to sleep with. Or maybe he did it spontaneously. He was six, I think. Anyway, before I knew it, John came up with this red crocodile named Crosley. I was duly charmed, and we started batting Crosley ideas around at night and making up episodes. Crosley got to be a real member of the family. 

In many ways the thing was ready-made for me, but I did need to figure out why on earth Crosley was red. I couldn't just dump something like that into a story without explaining. (I was determined not to leave the red part out; this was Crosley's trademark feature!)

It finally occurred to me: Crosley was red because he was allergic to water! In a roundabout way, that is. If he got any water on him, he broke out doing the Black Bottom dance and had to go on for hours and hours. Unless he took his antidote pills. These stopped the Black Bottom well enough but did have a side-effect, and you surely know what this was: they turned him red! This was fine with Crosley, though: "Not that I mind that part a bit. Cause when people see me now, they know not t' get me wet."

I give John most of the credit. He invented Crosley the red crocodile and all I did was figure out why he was red and drop the two new Night Buddies into a situation. I like to think of John as the writer and myself as the editor and rewrite man. John is thirty-two now and Crosley is obviously still a member of the family.

The second book in the series (the one coming out this fall) is called Night Buddies, Imposters, and One Far-Out Flying Machine. It features John and Crosley, is much longer, and introduces a bunch of new characters. My favorite part is the fantastic flying machine that I really can't talk about here. I hope you'll check it out, though, and thanks again for inviting me in.

Sands Hetherington

About the Book:
Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare is the first in a series featuring John, a young city kid who isn't ready for bed yet, and Crosley, a bright-red crocodile who shows up in his room to rescue him and take him on an adventure.

Night Buddies is an astonishing and inventive adventure with unforgettable cast of characters that will make you laugh and win over your heart. The book has lots of thoughtful, multi-layered twists, giggles, and perils -- things kids can relate to and enjoy. 

Publisher: Dune Buggy Press; One edition (June 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0984741712
ISBN-13: 978-0984741717

Get a sneak peek of the book at http://tinyurl.com/7xxl8qw

About the Author: 
Sands Hetherington credits his son John for being his principal motivator. Sands raised his son as a single parent from the time John was six. He read to him every night during those formative years. He and young John developed the Crosley crocodile character in the series during months of bedtime story give-and-take. Sands majored in history at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and has an M.F.A. in creative writing and an M.A. in English from UNC-Greensboro. He lives in Greensboro.

The World of Ink Network will be touring author Sands Hetherington’s nighttime adventure for kids, Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare published by Dune Buggy Press all through July and August 2012.

You can find out more about Sands Hetherington’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/6vgevbh

To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit http://worldofinknetwork.com