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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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Twitter for Writers: 7 Tips

When was the last time you reviewed your Twitter profile? Do you even have a tweeting strategy?

While Facebook is a great place to hang out with friends and family, Twitter is the best place to find information and make new connections. Like any social platform, you want your Twitter account to be professional and show your personality. You can meet new people, engage followers, ask and answer questions, and perhaps pick up some new readers and/or clients.

Here are 7 things you can do to make the most out of Twitter.

1. Post a recent profile picture. Others will be more likely to engage with and follow you, if they can identify you as a real person, rather than a logo. One exception: if you are a caricaturist or someone who draws self-portraits, an artistic rendering of you will serve to showcase your abilities. 

2. Upload a branded header photo. You want the colors and tone of your website to match all of your socials. That way, people can identify you from a mere glance. Put your logo, as well as an info you want to call out - like your most recent book - in your header.

3. Write a concise bio. You have 160 characters to show who you are. You're a writer. You can do it!

4. Fill out the rest of your profile. Be sure to include location and website. Also, if you are so inclined, add emoji's to your profile name. It will really help you stand out. Note: I use Gold Stars in my @TheDEBMethod, @GoalChat, and @WriteOnOnline profiles.

5. Follow People. Obviously you want to follow and support your friends, but also use Twitter to make new ones. Follow your favorite authors, magazines, writers, news sources, etc. Connect with anyone you believe you would benefit from following and those you believe would benefit from following you. You don't want to follow too many people in one day, tho. It will look like you are spamming and Twitter may give you a time out.

6. And Create Twitter Lists. Create public and private lists of the people you follow. Organizing your feed in this way makes it easy to find tweets from the people you want, when you want them. For instance, create a list of podcasters or interviewers who pose questions to people with your expertise. Or if you have a local blog, create a list of places where you live. That way you can see what's going on, retweet valuable information to your followers, and reply if there's an area-specific question.

To create a list, go to your profile, click on lists, and select, Create new list. Name it, describe it, and decide if you want it to be public or private. Then add people. Hint: Keep most of your lists public. The only reason to create a private list is if you want to keep an eye on your competition's tweets.

7. Tweet. You now have 280 characters, as opposed to the original 140, so make them count. Feel free to add pictures to make your tweets stand out. You can add videos and GIFs too. Tweet your articles and other information related to your expertise. Reply to requests for information, ask people when you need things, and participate in Twitter chats. You can promote yourself, as long as you don't do it all the time. Remember, value first.

Twitter is a valuable too. Use your profile to highlight who you are and use your Tweets to share what you know. Share information and have conversations with your followers and friends. You never know where a tweet may lead.

Do you use Twitter? What's your handle? In what ways do you use Twitter for your personal or professional life?

* * *

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.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Extending Life of Authors' Fave Reviews - Free Resource



Sometimes a review so good comes along that authors are loathe to let it die. They might include it in their media kit or add it to their websites. But then they run out of ideas for it.

But wait! Its life can be extended with new Nonfiction Authors Association’s member Carolyn Howard-Johnson's blog.

The New Book Review is a review blog that doesn't judge a book by its cover or by the press used to print it. If one reviewer loved a book, that qualifies it for more coverage. If a book is so new the author may submit a synopsis. Authors, publicists, and reviewers are asked to follow the guidelines given in the left column of the blog and, in return, are asked only to let their fans and the media know it is there through their networking channels. That helps expose every review on the blog (a cross-promotion of sorts) and gives authors an opportunity to reach the reading public.

Many authors who submit include author bios and information on their reviewers. In turn, authors use information in each review as a resource—the names of reviewers, review sites, publicists and more. A search engine helps visitors to find past reviews using keywords.

The 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. She is dedicated to helping other writers with free services like The New Book Review as well as the the books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers which have won multiple awards.

Check out the author's  Back to Literature column for www.MyShelf.com.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Children’s Writing and Information Dump


As a ghostwriter and editor, occasionally I get clients who give me a draft of a story that has information dump within the first few spreads of a picture book.

This is a no-no.

Information dump is when an author literally dumps a chunk of information for the reader to absorb.

Granted most new writers may not realize they’re hitting the reader with these big chunks of information. Or, the author may want to tell the reader what she thinks the reader should know, but doesn’t know how to weave the information into the story.

I think the problem is the ‘author’ wants to make sure the reader understands what’s going on. For example:

Billy and Joe had been best friends since Kindergarten. They played together every day and even had sleep overs. They were also on the same football team. Then Billy insulted Joe last year. After that, Joe didn’t want to be friends with Billy anymore. Now, it’s a new school year.

While this example isn’t too long, there are some info dumps that are paragraphs long, pages long, or in the case of picture books, spreads long.

Another possible reason for information dumping.

Another possibility is that the ‘author’ is writing the story for himself. He’s writing to see what he wants to see in the book. He’s not thinking about what a seven year old or a 10 year old will want . . . even expect in a book.

Whatever the reason, information dump at the beginning of a story leads to a very boring beginning. And, it delays the initial problem that the protagonist must overcome.

While this has touched on the beginning of a story so far, it’s not a good idea to dump clumps of information elsewhere within the story either.

Why information dumping isn’t a good idea.
Children, even adults, have short attention spans. Being told what went on is boring for the reader. She wants to see or hear what’s going on through action and dialogue. Information or backstory must be weaved into the story here and there.

For example, going back to Billy and Joe. Instead of telling the reader flat out in the beginning of the story why they’re not friends, bring it in through dialogue.

It was the first day of the new school year. Joe walked past Billy in the yard without looking at him or saying a word.

“Okay, enough already. I insulted you last year. Get over it already,” chided Billy.

This lets the reader know what’s happening without knocking him over the head or dumping clumps of information. It brings the reader into the action and conversation. It’s effective writing.

While you may not be able to get every bit of information into the story that you think should be there, it doesn’t matter. Your reader will read between the lines. .

So, think twice before dumping that information on your reader.

This article was originally published at:
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2017/04/30/childrens-writing-information-dump/



Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author. She runs a successful children’s ghostwriting and rewriting business and welcomes working with new clients.

For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact her at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

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