Bullying 101


Kids are cruel. That's a known fact. Kids who take cruelty to the extreme become bullies. The reality is that bullying is and will continue to be a part of every child's life. Even in institutions with an active anti-bullying program, kids go underground and carry on in any way they choose. You know, like when we were in school.


We as children’s writers want our stories to reflect the lives of young people. We can speak to kids' lives by including a bully in our story and showing how our characters react to her. 


What is Bullying?

The regrettable dynamics of bullying comes in the form of the viscous "bullying triangle" of the bully, the victim, and the bystander.  

Bullying takes on many guises. Its main intent is to hurt someone and is relentless in its delivery. Once a bully zeroes in on a target that he deems small, helpless and/or weak, he preys on his victim over and over by calling him names, recruiting cronies to gang up, and in the worst cases, the bullies can become physically violent. 

Often bullies are bigger kids who pick on kids who they think won’t stand up for themselves, and kids with few friends. But that’s not always the case. A short kid could be a bully as a means of defense against his size, and even a kid who has been bullied can turn into a bully to gain favor from his previous aggressor. As Kaitlyn Blais put it in Bullying Under Attack: True Stories Written by Teen Victims, Bullies and Bystanders, edited by Stephanie H. Meyer, John Meyer, Emily Sperber, and Heather Alexander, “Every kid wants to be ‘cool, popular, and in.’ The problem is that you can’t be ‘in’ unless someone is ‘out.’” Kaitlyn stood up for a victim who turned on her and victimized her. She wrote that she learned from that experience that “there needed to be only one black sheep.” 

Inside a Bully’s Head

First and foremost, a bully hates himself. He is hurting inside. Why? His home life may be unhappy. He may imagine that he has an embarrassing flaw and feels self-conscious about it. So he picks a victim who appears weaker than him and lashes out. If he gets away with it, he feels a sense of power and as his behavior continues, he becomes hooked. Eventually, as confessed bully Michael Ortiz wrote in Bullying Under Attack, Michael lost control and any ability he might have had to tell right from wrong. The hate he inflicted on others replaced the hatred he felt for himself.
Target  Practice
The victim is led to believe that more harm will come to her if she seeks help, and anyway, she doesn't want to be a tattletale. Lacking the proper skills to defend herself, she takes it and takes it until her life spins out of control and she descends into self-pity and worse. In dire cases, the victim may resort to harming herself by retreating into her own lonely world, and worse--cutting and even suicide. If a child is fortunate enough to rise above her unhappy situation, she is often left with long-lasting scars. 
Enter an Audience and the Triangle is Complete
Bystanders witness the bullying--the presence of bystanders actually encourages the bullying. The bully loves to show off his skills, especially if he is egged on. And even if the bystanders remain silent, the bully believes that they are lending him support.

Bystanders might:
  • Look the other way
  • Avoid any people or place where bullying might take place
  • Are afraid or embarrassed to speak up
  • Feel helpless themselves
  • Don't think they should interfere

    When Bravery Wins Out
    Enter the rare person who is willing to stand up for the victim, dubbed the upstander, in the excellent chapter "Understanding Bystanders," in Bullying: Prevention and Intervention--Protecting Children and Teens from Physical, Emotional, and Online Bullying, by Cindy Miller, LCSW and Cynthia Lowen.
     
    If You’ve Never Been a Part of a Bullying Triangle
    The closest I have come to a bullying situation was breaking up fights as a classroom teacher. Other than that, I have never became involved so I can’t speak from experience. But I have been hurt by girls who I considered my best friends. Granted, the scars couldn’t be as deep as the scars from a bullying situation, but there are scars. For two years I stewed over one friend’s hateful behavior toward me until I forced myself to stop and I finally got over it. The good news? I have a "well of darkness" to draw on in the portrayal of bullies and villains in my stories. I’m thankful for these experiences, for as writers, we draw on every scrap of personal experience and emotion we can.
    Please leave a comment if you’ve experienced bullying and let us know how it has affected you and your writing.
    Illustration: Courtesy of www.constantcontact.com
    Next month: What it Takes to Overcome Bullying   
    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 completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction courses, picture book course and mystery and suspense course. She has currently finished her first book, a mystery/ghost story for 7-11 year-olds, and is in the process of publishing it and moving on to new writing projects. Follow Linda on Facebook.




Self-Editing for Our Best Writing


What you offer on your website will consistently draw readers to your site.  Our goal is to write a strong introduction with clarity, and focused content. To achieve our goal, we must become self-editors and put it into practice. 

Self-editing is tricky because we are familiar with the way we put words together in a sentence, our style. We are in-tuned to our message, and what we want to convey, but we surprise ourselves at times with wonky writing.  The point is to catch, and correct before release.

I have a few tips and resources to offer:
·         If you have a writing partner who edits your writing, even your posts, nurture the relationship.
·         To save time and money, self-edit or have your writing partner edit your work before hiring an editor.
·         I use online editors to help me analyze my pieces.  My favorite is ProWritingAid.  The free version is quite thorough, but a premium version is also available.

o   Copy and paste your piece and click to run an analysis. Follow the comments and choose how you wish to tackle each one.

o   ProWriting Aid:  https://prowritingaid.com/

o   Page Rater is my second go to online: https://www.paperrater.com/free_paper_grader

o   Hemmingway is good for style: http://www.hemingwayapp.com/


o   Grammarly is another option: https://www.grammarly.com/1

o   If you use Microsoft Word, a choice for extensive grammar checking is available via options – proofing – writing style.  Choose grammar & style, and click settings according to your watch-areas from the pull down menu.

Tips for growing a following:
  • Use visuals: many sites such as Pinterest are photograph-driven.
  • Add links to your Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc., pages with a brief intro.
  • Always include subject tags, labels, or categories for easy searching.
  • E-Newsletters and regular posts are an excellent way to promote your work and to recommend the work of others; an important part of book marketing.
I appreciate your feedback.  Please comment below.  Thank you much!  deborah

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!”
 




How to Re-motivate Your Writing Career

wishing well?
What do you do when the well runs dry? Give up in disgust? Refresh your ideas and ambitions? Learn a lot and start again?

If you can afford it, breaks give you time to rethink what you are doing, start from scratch or carry on regardless. Try answering these three main questions first.

 Why am I writing? 

Are you writing for love? Or to help others? Is this simply an ego trip or a serious attempt to earn a living? In other words, are you  being professional or is this just a glorified hobby?

Writing for your own enjoyment is now seen as a proven way of improving your mental health. Sharing your knowledge to help others was one of the initial ideas behind the Internet. But with rising costs, nowadays we really do need to consider the outgoings to support websites and expenses of hardware, software, subscriptions, paper, books and more books.

Yes, many people are earning good money writing about how rich you can become through books and articles, or giving courses on a hobby or passion. Many more are struggling well below the minimum living wage.

The trick is to write to market. Find a need, find where buyers are, and find how you can fill that need. Easier said than done. You could spend hours writing about grooming a dancing panda, but if no one cares, it does not matter how well you do it.

The research needed to locate your readers is arduous and takes time. A new helpful site on the block when it comes to writing fiction for Kindle is The Genre Report. It analyses  this market and produces graphs showing which books are making money, which have a chance of making money,  and which lines may fit your niche but have such a small readership, that they will never make more than a minimal part-time income.

It is a new website, it is in beta. And for that reason it is still free to use. If you're into working with Kindle at all, it is a time saver and very useful. A couple of sections are open when you reach the website but you need to sign in with Facebook to release the full menu for the reports. I, at last, found a niche in which I can confidently start work and hopefully make an income. Watch this space.

 Have I a list? How am I building it? 

email lists
My email inbox, and I'm sure yours, is flooded daily by messages promising to increase  followers,  email lists,  income. Much of it is no better than spam and my heart breaks for people who really believe the hype that they could make six figures in a month. Very few of us are going to become the super-rich. Many of us, if we're not too greedy, will earn enough to keep the wolf from the door. But it doesn't happen immediately. Don't be deluded. We're in it for the long haul.


Funnily enough many people have brought the business of email lists to my attention this week. The best piece of writing I have seen on this subject  is from Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  A writer and editor who has built her reputation over the years, she is. for me, well worth following. The comments are interesting, too.

How do I manage to do everything? 

grey dragon statue protecting roof


It takes hard work to master Scrivener and Dragon. I hit them with determination on the days when I feel jaded with writing and am making headway. Scrivener's outlining mode helped me batter a new synopsis into submission. An achievement indeed. My word count, using my old Dragon Naturally Speaking, jumped from 20 words a minute yesterday to 40 words a minute today. Yay!

How do I know? Through the joys of using a website called 750words. Initially it seemed wrong to try doing morning pages without actually writing in a notebook. But for those of us who love gimmicks, the little badges for achievement bring their own joy.

I've collected the beginning  egg, a turkey for five days in a row, the lovely flamingo for ten days in a row, a hamster for concentration (yep, babyish but it works for me :-)) and help in analysing what I'm doing. The daily statistics even show whether you're using sight, sound, and touch in your writing. Not totally serious but interesting.

Again this site is free for the first month, then $5 a month. If you find yourself falling behind in your word count, it might be worth a look.

I'd love to know how you'd answer any or all of these questions, so please use the comments box below and let's discuss the best strategies for re-motivating ourselves when we feel worn out.

All photos came from Pexels . This is a new-to-me photo repository with an ever-growing collection of stock photos, free to download under a Creative Commons Zero licence, free for commercial and personal use, no need for attribution. Just take care to avoid the sponsored photos if you don't want to pay.

Anne Duguid
Anne Duguid Knol

A local and national journalist in the U.K., Anne Knol is now a fiction editor for award-winning American and Canadian publishers. As a new author, she shares writing tips and insights at Author Support : http://www.authorsupport.net .

Her Halloween novella, ShriekWeek is published by The Wild Rose Press as e-book and in print  included in the Hauntings in the Garden anthology. (Volume Two)

Her column on writing a cozy mystery appears  in The Working Writer's Club .

To Find Opportunity, You Must Knock on Doors


By W. Terry Whalin

From my years in publishing, I've discovered a basic principle: If you want something to happen, you have to be knocking on doors to find that opportunity. For example, as an acquisitions editor, I've found some of my best projects meeting with authors face to face at a writers' conference. I understand the value of this personal contact with writers. While I've been speaking at different events for many years, the invitations to speak at these events does not happen organically (without any action on my part). From my experience, the directors of conferences are pitched many times from many more qualified people than they could possibly use at an event.

What is the difference maker so one editor is picked to be invited and another is not? I believe it is a combination of things—a personal relationship with the director or decisionmaker at these events. Also it is necessary to be knocking on the doors in a gentle way but letting them know of your availability and willingness to speak at their event. In the last few days, I've pulled out some resources on my bookshelf that list forthcoming conferences, then I've sent emails to these leaders. In a few cases where I know the people but haven't been to their event in several years, I've picked up the phone and called them. Will my actions pay off? I know many will fall flat and never garner a response.  I'm a realist with my expectations—yet I also know that some of them will succeed and garner an invitation to their event—maybe not this year but next year.

While I've been writing about getting speaking opportunities, the actions for a writer are exactly the same if you are looking for writing opportunities. What types of writing opportunities are you looking for? 

In recent days, I've been working on some book proposals and writing projects. Yes I've written a number of books over the years but most of my efforts have been in my work as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. I've been knocking on some doors of opportunities with agents and editors to find some writing projects. Like my knocking on doors for speaking opportunities, many of my emails and calls have not been returned and feel like they are going into a black hole. Yet I persist and continue to pitch and look for new opportunities. Why? From my experience, I know some of these pitches will actually turn into writing assignments and future work.

Here's several actions for every writer:

1.Learn how to write an attention-getting query letter. Every writer can learn this important skill of writing a one page pitch letter. It will be a valuable lesson for writing for magazines or getting the attention of literary agents or editors.

2. Learn how to write an excellent book proposal. Get my free book proposal checklist or my Book Proposals That Sell or take my Write A Book Proposal course. It will take effort but it will pay off in getting more attention from literary agents and book publishers.

3. Continually work at fostering and strengthening your relationships with others in the community. Help them in any way that you can—and you never know where that help will lead to future opportunities.

In general, the world of publishing is busy with lots of activity, emails, manuscripts, proposals and pitches. If you wait passively for someone to reach out to you, then most likely little will happen. Instead I encourage you to be proactive in your approach and be knocking on different doors to find the right opportunity. I believe these opportunities are out there—but you have to be knocking to find them.

---------------------------
W. Terry Whalin has written more than 60 books for traditional publishers including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success. He is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing, a New York publisher. Terry has an active twitter following (over 200,000) and lives in Colorado.

Tweetable:

Writers have to be pro-active to find the doors of opportunity. Get ideas here. (ClickToTweet)

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How to Write Better Endings to Your Stories


Many writers have trouble coming up with the perfect ending for a story.

And the perfect ending is really important because it is often the ending of a story that people remember most.

That’s because a good ending ties everything together and leaves the reader feeling satisfied.

To write good story endings, keep these tips in mind:

1. A good ending is made possible by having a good beginning and a good middle.

If you're having trouble with the ending of your story, go back and look at your beginning and middle.

What is the BIG thing your main character is trying to do or solve at the start of the story?

Is it clear throughout the story that your character is trying to solve this problem?

Everything in the beginning and middle of your story needs to relate to this problem.

When it does, it will be much easier to come up with the perfect ending.

If it doesn’t, you won’t be able to create the perfect ending to your story.

Try this: Write down, in one or two sentences, what the main conflict is in your story. If you have trouble doing this, you probably need to get clearer about the main story problem.

2. Your ending should come about because of the actions and events we see in the beginning and the middle of your story.

For example, don’t have some character we've never seen before suddenly appear at the end of the story to help the main character solve the problem or solve it for him.

This won’t make for a satisfying ending.

If you want to have another character help the main character at the end, we need to see this character in the middle of the story, not just the ending.

Also remember that the ending needs to come about because of action or actions the main character did or did not take.

Things can’t simply happen to the main character by chance.

And someone else can't simply step in and save the day for your main character.

Things need to happen because of actions and decisions the main character makes throughout the story.

3. Make sure you have plenty of conflict (rising action) that leads to the climax and ending of the story.

Endings tend to fall flat if there isn’t plenty of conflict in the middle of the story, with all sorts of decisions and actions the main character faces before he’s able to solve or resolve the overall problem.

4. Good endings evoke some sort of emotion in the reader.

To write endings that do this, start by reading other published stories in the genre you wish to write.

See how they ended and how you felt at the ending.

Make a few notes about how the authors evoked these emotions.

You’ll have to practice writing endings that cause readers to feel emotions, so take your time.

When you have a clear problem that is evident throughout the story, and plenty of conflict throughout the story as the main character tries to solve this problem, it is much easier to create the perfect ending to your story – an ending that evokes emotion from your reader and leaves him feeling satisfied.

So follow these tips until you come up with an ending for your story that is just right!

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, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at www.morningnudge.com.

10 Ideas for Social Media Posts

Social media marketing is a must in this day and age. It's important to have an online presence in addition to your website to stay on top of the minds of your readers and clients.

I am frequently asked which are the best social media networks for writers. The easy answer is: whichever sites you are most active on. If you spend time on a social media platform personally, you are more likely to drive conversations on it professionally.

For those who want a tangible answer, I say, LinkedIn is a must, since it is a professional network. It's also less cluttered, so it's more likely your posts will be seen. Second is Facebook. It is hugely popular, continually evolving, and prioritizes the user experience.

Now that we have the where, here are 10 things you can post on social media.

Links:

1. To A Blog Post

2. To Relevant Industry News

3. To Media

4. To Your Upcoming Events

Images:

5. Where You Are and What You Are Doing

6. A Relevant Quote Graphic

Videos

7. A Quick Tip

8. A Live Video of You Speaking or Teaching

Text:

9. An Update of Your Latest Project

10. Questions for Your Audience.

Here are some author-friendly options:
- What are you reading (fiction, non-fiction, or both)?
- What are you writing?
- Where is your favorite place to read (or write)?
- How do you find inspiration?
- What is your favorite piece of advice?

Whether or not it's an question post, whenever you share something on social media, include a question at the bottom that encourages them to comment (see below).

One more thing. Unless you have a a huge news site (and unless you are referring to Twitter) you really don't want to publish on your social media platforms more than once or twice a day. The idea is to stay active, so you are on the minds and in the feeds of your friends and fans.

What do you think? Where do you posts and what do you post?Please share your thoughts 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.

Taking inspiration for fiction from non-fiction

A little stuck in your novel? Looking for a great idea for a short story? Just want to stir up some creative juices?

Look no further than non-fiction.

-History books and biographies, obviously, are full of amazing, horrifying, or interesting stories that can provide inspiration for fiction.

-Good psychology books can help create or flesh out your characters.

-Science books provide ideas and what-ifs for science fiction, modern day thrillers, etc.

-What if one of your characters is a specialist in something? Or wants to do something you know little about? You'll need to do research. And all those research books are writing fodder.

-My favorites, however, are books about animals—their adaptations, instincts, specialized skills, etc. My highest-paid fiction sale and the story I'm working on now both grew from seeds of truth I found in animal books. And if you're into science fiction, consider all the bio-mimicry options out there.


So, what sorts of non-fiction books do you take inspiration from? I'd love to hear in the comments.



Melinda Brasher's newest book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget, is a guide for people want to explore the beauty of Alaska from the water but who also like to save money for the next adventure.  If you have Amazon Prime, read for free! Or visit her website at cruisingalaskaonabudget.wordpress.com 

Self-Publishing: Press This! Part 1

As you might surmise from reading the biographies of the other women that post on this blog, I'’m the newbie. I self-published my first children'’s book in 2014. I used a Press. There are pro'’s and con’'s of publishing with a press so, I'’d like to share my experience with you. Then, you can make a more informed decision for yourself.
 I had written about 10 books when I was a child. Nothing that I would publish today but the dream to be an author was alive and well when I was young. I loved stapling my little book together and showing it off to my family. I always knew I wanted to write a book for publication. People would ask, ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ and I would always say, ‘I will have published a book.’ I didn'’t know what kind of book, but I knew I would do it one day. 
 I had worked for 10 years as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and thought I might write a self-help book. But, nothing ever came to me to write on that topic. Maybe one day though. However, once my daughter started kindergarten and I was going through a pre-mature empty nest syndrome, another parent of a kindergartener asked me what I really wanted to do. Of course I said, “write a book!” She encouraged me by telling me she knew someone that published a book and she would get them to help me. That, apparently, was all I needed. A children’'s book came to me one morning and I didn'’t stop writing until I was done. I worked on it some more, making it into a chapter book and polishing the ending. But, by then, my friend said her friend couldn'’t help me. My little dream went up in a puff of smoke.
 But, then an email landed in my inbox asking, “"Have you always dreamed of publishing your own book?"” How many of you can see “"gullible"” written all over my forehead? Now, don'’t get me wrong, I'’m not saying publishing with a Press is a bad thing. They can make dreams come true. So, I responded to that email. Publishing a book through this Press was expensive; at that time nearly $1500 for them to help my dream become a reality. I didn'’t have the money. However, I do get paid an additional fee for working extra hours in the summer (I work in a school). So, I told them I would save my money this summer and be back. The next summer, the price had risen to $1776 (it did happen to be July 4th). I knew I had to jump at this deal before it went any higher. I had done my research and they were a reputable company. This is an important step if you choose to publish through a Press. Please, please, please do your research and be sure they are reputable. I worked with a man who was super nice and I added some additional services like editing and things that seemed important— and that caused the price to zoom up to $2500.
 I paid them in payments and they worked with me to create a beautiful cover that I loved; they edited my book to a professional level; they secured the copyright and ISBN; and they put my book up on Amazon, B&N.com and other affiliated online bookstores. These were all things that I didn'’t have the ability to do or didn'’t know how or didn'’t know who to hire to do it for me. I was and am very grateful to them for bringing my first book to reality.
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 at the local Community Mental Health Center, the local Community College, Hospice, and is currently a Guidance Counselor. Her calling in life is to help others be their best selves.  She writes magical, whimsical, adventure books that delight and inspire children. She has always loved reading and writing and wrote many books and poems as a child growing up in Missouri. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 22 years and 2 dogs. 
To read Part2 click the link: http://www.writersonthemove.com/2017/05/press-this-part-2.html  
 You can follow her at www.wandaluthman.wordpress.com
 

Beware! Agents Aren't All Ethical

I don't double up on articles from my #SharingwithWriters newsletter news and blog very often, but sometimes it seems essential.  So, I'm repeating this from the February  SWW issue. There is another scam alert in it (seems the spring of 2017 is scam season for writers!), so if you are interested you can pick up the February issue  or subscribe on my Web site at http://bit.ly/SWWNewsletter. So here it is with thanks to a special author/reporter who doesn't want to be mentioned. 

There is a new kink in the old agent-for-upfront-fee scam. One of my longtime writing friends told me that just as she had been waiting for the “right time to terminate” her relationship with her agent, she received a mass e-mail informing her of the agent’s new fee-for-service plan. My friend then terminated her contract (the terms of the contract had already expired) and asked that the mention of her books be removed from this former agent’s Web site. The agent refused her request (and other authors' requests) citing that she was the “agent of record” for those books.

My friend says, “I feel bad for new writers who fall for this trap of paying her upfront fees.” This agent also added another wrinkle to her fee collecting program—a cancellation-of-contract fee. Learn more at  (http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2017/02/red-flag-alert-loiacono-literary-agency.html?m+1 ) 

I have no idea whether keeping a book that is no longer represented by an agent on an agent’s site is legal, but it certainly is misleading if not downright unethical. One of the tools that authors use to judge the effectiveness of an agent is their catalogue of book sales. It is important that you are all aware of this practice and double check with some of the authors who have been (or are) represented by any agent you are considering. 

You should also be aware that some agents “sell books” to presses that would take any book presented to them, often called (rather erroneously) self-publishing presses and that were once called “vanity publishing or presses” and still are by anyone who cares to flaunt their #bookbigotry. Of course these agents usually still take their 15% for “handling” and “representing” or “selling” the book to that press. There is more on that in the blog link above.

You will also find more on finding reputable agents and editors in both The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor including things to look for and questions to ask both the professional you are considering as a hire and those clients they provide as references. There are all kinds of ways you can be mislead—both intentionally and unintentionally. 

MORE ABOUT TODAY’S GUEST BLOGGER

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 Promoter and The Frugal Editor won 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 Ethically is the newest book in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers.

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. 
                 
Feel free to message her on Facebook with your own scam news at http://Facebook.com/carolynhowardjohnson. 

Building a Writing Career Takes Practice and Focus

By Karen Cioffi

My 10 year old grandson is trying out for the All County Band in his area. He was telling me the piece he has to play is difficult. I told him that practice is a powerful tool. Just 10-15 minutes a day will help tremendously.

Obviously the more practice the better, but my grandson has ADHD. Reducing the amount of time on practicing doesn’t make it seem overwhelming – it’s doable.

This philosophy will work for anything, including writing.

What does it take to have a flourishing writing career?
1. Learn the craft and practice it.

To be a ‘good’ writer, an effective writer, a working writer, you need to know your craft. The only way to do this is to study it.

If you’re starting out, take a few courses online or offline or both. Get a strong grasp of the basics.

We’re all familiar with “practice makes perfect.”

There’s a reason that saying has lasted. It’s true.

Writing coach Suzanne Lieurance says, “Writing is a lot like gardening because it takes constant pruning and weeding.”

You need to keep up with your craft. Even as your get better at it, keep honing your craft. Keep learning more and more and practice, practice, practice

So, what does it mean to practice?

Simple. Write. Write. Write.

Again, even if it's for short periods of time throughout the week, you're practicing. 

An excellent way to improve your writing skills is to copy (type and/or handwrite) content of a master in the niche you want to specialize in.

This is a copywriting trick. You actually write the master’s words and how to write professionally mentally sinks in.

Now, we all know that this is just a practice tool. We should never ever use someone else’s content as our own.

2. Focus in on a niche.

Have you heard the adage: A jack of all trades and master of none?

This is the reason you need to specialize.

You don’t want to be known as simply okay or good in a number of different niches. You want to be known as an expert in one or two niches.

This way, when someone is looking for a writer who specializes in, say, memoirs and autobiographies, you’re at the top of the list

I would recommend that your niches are related, like memoirs and autobiographies or being an author and book marketing.

Along with this, focus produces results.

According to an article in Psychology Today on focus and results, Dan Goleman Ph.D. says, “The more focused we are, the more successful we can be at whatever we do. And, conversely, the more distracted, the less well we do. This applies across the board: sports, school, career.

So, practice and focus your way to a successful writing career.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter. She is also an online marketing instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.
Follow Karen at: http://facebook.com/writingforchildrenwithkarecioffi

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