Saturday, December 4, 2010

What is required for a character to be believable?

J.D. Holiday is the author and illustrator of two children’s books: Janoose the Goose, picture book and a chapter book for six to eight year olds, THE GREAT SNOWBALL ESCAPADE. A chapbook of her short stories called, Trespasses was published in 1994 and she has had short stories printed in literary magazines and numerous articles about writing and publishing published. She is a member of The Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators, (SCBWI) and Small Publishers of North America, (SPAN). J.D. Holiday lives in the Delaware Valley of Pennsylvania.

We chatted with J.D. Holiday about the process of creating characters and how it is so varied. We suspect there are as many methods as there are authors and every writer must do what works for him or her. However, learning each other’s techniques helps us hone our own writing skills.

J.D. Holiday’s Tips on How to Make a Character Believable

A believable character is one that can show human traits and emotions through body movement and dialog. Know your characters well.

Each character must have an identity; name, age, background, a hobby or two and likes and dislikes. Your readers have to see where your characters live what the characters think and feel about the situations they find themselves in.
1. Do they play an instrument?
2. Do they run in the park mornings or in the evenings?
3. Who are their friends? And on and on.

I put myself in their shoes and use myself as a model for all sorts of emotions and problems my characters face. This applies to even emotions I have not felt or traits I don’t have. If my characters have to be something I am not or feel what I have not, I picture myself being or doing what my characters must and write it down.

Do an outline sketch of each one and even with all of that, your characters, especially your main character should standout and for the most part, are likable to the readers.

The characters personalities have to be consistent throughout the story.

That's the basic recipe for character creation. I hope it helps you get your characters off the ground and running. Remember- characters are the building blocks of story- don't forget to spend time on your characters before you dive into your first draft.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~





A little about “The Great Snowball Escapade”:
Wilhemena Brooks’ cousin, Bud Dunphry come to live with her family. Wil, as she likes to be called, finds her pink pencil sharpener is missing after Christmas. Wil knows Bud has it! Who else would have taken it? Her mother told her to be nice to Bud and to treat him like she would like to be treated. If Wil treats Bud nicely does that change anything for her?

Publisher: Book Garden Publishing, LLC
ISBN Number: 978-0-9818614-2-5
Publication Date: March 16, 2010

Places where J.D. Holiday’s book is available for sale other than Amazon.com: B&N.com, Books-a-million.com, Powell's Books.com

E-books on sale at: Amazon, B&N, Scridb, LULU, and soon at Google Editions


Blog Address: http://jdswritersblog.blogspot.com/


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Before You Self-Publish: Part 2

If you read my previous post (see November 6th), you realize there are certain steps that need to be taken before you think about signing up with a self-publishing company. And, you know it will cost you money that you may not recoup. This is not to say, you will not, but you need to work diligently to ensure a return on your investment.

So, now we’ll look at steps 3 through 6 of Before You Publish…

3. Learn the craft of writing

Along with a critique group, it’s important to join one or two writing groups. This will be a tool to begin your networking and it will also be a learning experience. Just in the messages alone, you’ll pick up valuable tidbits of information. And, you can always ask questions.

Read and read and read. Read in the genre you are writing and read books on writing. This is where asking questions in your writing group will come in handy. Ask members for recommendations on books you should read to hone your craft.

If possible, take some writing classes or ecourses. There are some authors who occasionally offer free instruction.

Attend writing conferences. If you can’t afford one, there are a couple of great online ones. Check out the free Muse Online Writers Conference. It’s held each October and is a week long.

4. Research self-publishing companies

Whether you’re looking at print-on-demand, subsidy, or co-publishing companies, research a number of them before signing a contract. Along with finding out what services they offer and the cost, check into their reputation.

5. Learn about marketing

If you have a polished product to offer, and you should if you’ve taken your time, joined a critique and writing group, and worked toward learning the craft of writing, you will need to focus on the marketing element of writing.

You can join a couple of marketing groups, study blogs specializing in marketing, read marketing books, and so on. This is the ONGOING element of writing to sell. Unless you have the money to hire a publicist or marketer, you will need to roll up your sleeves and sell your book.

6. Don’t be in a rush

Take your time and the steps necessary to ensure your book has every opportunity for success. Don’t just jump in…it can be a very expensive splash!

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

If you need help with your author platform, check out:

Build Your Author/Writer Platform
This 4-week class shows you Basic Website Optimization, Blogging Smart, Email Marketing, and Social Media Marketing

And, you can follow Karen at:

Facebook 
Goolge+  
LinkedIn 
Twitter


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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Debra K. Dunlap Presents Fallon O’Reilly and the Ice Queen’s Lair

Debra Dunlap lived in Alaska as a child, and is now a resident of Wyoming. Having a desire to write since a very early age, she attended the Muse Online Writers Conference a couple of years ago, and began to learn the writing ropes.

Her first book, Fallon O’Reilly and the Ice Queen’s Lair, is out and about, and ready for your viewing/reading pleasure. It's a Young Adult fantasy story set in Alaska.

A bit about Fallon O’Reilly and the Ice Queen’s Lair:

Magic lives in the Americas, too…

Land of the Midnight Sun. The Aurora Borealis. Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Dog sleds. Mount Denali. 60 degrees below zero. Moose. Grizzly bears. Salmon. Gold nuggets. Blueberries. Bunny boots and duct tape.

To most people, the word “Alaska” evokes visions of a wild, mysterious land, but for Fallon O’Reilly, it means home. Growing up in a village hidden deep in the wilderness, she eagerly anticipates her first sojourn at the Borealis Academy of Magical Arts. Nothing dampens her enthusiasm; not the creepy bookseller, her sisters’ nagging or the world’s nastiest classmate.

However, when village inhabitants disappear, someone murders a student’s pet and she suffers a near-fatal attack by a horrible, hairy creature, Fallon’s curiosity draws her into a dark mystery. Can a twelve-year-old witch, together with her wheelchair-bound cousin and new found friend from Wyoming, uncover the identity of the evil behind the chilling events?

From the wind-swept tundra to the frozen peaks of Mount Denali, Fallon’s struggle to protect the school and her fellow students encompasses a journey of far more breadth than she expected.

~~~~~
Your book sounds great, Debra. I'm a big fantasy fan.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process and how Fallon O’Reilly and the Ice Queen’s Lair came about?

Sure, Karen.

My family lived in the Alaskan wilderness when I was a child and my mother homeschooled me during first grade.  As soon as she explained that the marks on paper represented sounds, I grasped the concept of reading and books hooked me for life.  I wrote my first novel at the age of 11 or 12, pounding it out on a toy typewriter.  Although the 25-page novel disappeared (thankfully!), my love of stories remained.

After attending the Muse Online Writer’s Conference, I felt inspired to begin putting stories in a more permanent form than my imagination.  During the Conference, I learned of NaNoWriMo and resolved to rise to the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month.  Fallon’s story had been rattling around in my head for some time and NaNo provided the opportunity to begin writing.  I did write 50k words in a month and went on to write another 25 thousand to complete the book.

During the same period of time, my oldest son came to visit from his home in Japan.  I live in Wyoming, where the summers are very hot and dry.  Like many Wyoming residents, I use a “swamp cooler.”  For those who have never seen a swamp cooler, it’s a big vented metal box.  Water runs into the box bottom through a small tube and a fan inside the box blows cold humid air into your house.  I love swamp coolers!  My sons frequently complained of the cold temperature in my living room, where the swamp cooler rested in a window.

One night as we prepared to eat pizza and watch a movie, my oldest son called to his brothers.  “C’mon, guys.  The movie’s ready.  Time to head into the Ice Queen’s lair.”

Voila!  Instant book title.  It need only a character name to become Fallon O’Reilly & the Ice Queen’s Lair.

~~~~~
Isn't it funny how an idea, a title, and even a story can just appear? It'd be great if you can give us some details about your book.

It'd be my pleasure.

The book was released October 2010, through MuseItUp Publishing.
eBook ISBN: 978-0-9865875-2-8
Price: $5.95

~~~~~
Debra, it's been a pleasure featuring you and your book on our blog. I wish you much success with it.

~~~~~

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact me at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

GET YOUR COPY OF WALKING THROUGH WALLS

A middle-grade fantasy set in 16th century China!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Before You Self-Publish: Part 1

With today’s oversaturated and tight publishing market, it’s difficult to find even a small publisher for the manuscript you’ve slaved over. Many authors have taken the matter into their own hands and are going the self-publishing route.

But, have vision! This can be a worthwhile venture…if you first know a couple of things:

1. Self-publishing will cost you money

This is an absolute when venturing into the self-publishing world. How much money will depend on the company you choose and which of the various services they offer that you buy into. And, there will be many aside from printing your book: editing, cover design, copyright, distribution, press releases, promotion, and so on. Each of these additional services will cost you more money, although most of these companies do offer package deals. I know writers who have spent under a thousand dollars and others who have spent over five thousand dollars to publish their book.

In addition to this, selling books is a TOUGH business. Just because your book is in print or digitally available, it does not mean you will recoup your money, or make a profit.

It may sound a bit harsh, but I’ve seen writers spend money on self-publishing hoping it will bring a return on their investment - this is not always the case.

2. Join a critique group before actually publishing

You’ve decided you want your book published no matter what. Well, that’ fine, but before you start think about which company to use to self-publish, JOIN A CRITIQUE GROUP; it is essential. I do reviews, editing, and critiques, so I read a number of self-published books and manuscripts, and what is evident, is many authors are unaware that they need to have an edited, polished manuscript before they think of going the self-publishing path.

When choosing a critique group, be sure there are new and experienced (preferably published) writers as members, and it needs to focus on the genre you write in. In a critique group, you’ll quickly begin to see, through critiques of your work and that of the other members, how writing should be done. You’ll begin to spot grammatical and punctuation and storyline errors – you will begin to hone your craft. The group will help you polish your manuscript – you’ll be amazed at the difference.

At this point, it is advisable to have it edited as a final insurance. Often, the company you go with to self-publish will offer editing services. Just price it compared to hiring your own editor.

Part 2 will be here Saturday, November 13th, with steps 3 through 6 of "Before You Publish."

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

If you need help with your author platform, check out:

Build Your Author/Writer Platform
This 4-week class shows you Basic Website Optimization, Blogging Smart, Email Marketing, and Social Media Marketing


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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Marketing with Video - Amazing Young Guitarist

I happened upon a YouTube video of an amazing little boy guitarist. While watching it, I noticed a music instructor was promoting his business with a bit of content at the bottom of the video.

In marketing, one of the best ways to sell a product or service is to SHOW what it can do for you. Well, this music instructor had the right idea in using  one of his students (I'm assuming) to demonstrate how a child could learn to play the guitar.

Granted, not all children or adults have the same capabilities or talents, but this is an excellent marketing tool. And, note that just listening to the audio wouldn't have the same affect. It's the video of this little boy with amazing talent that makes you want to run to the instructor's home and get lessons for you or your child.

So, without further ado, here is one outstanding little guitar player:



Sungha plays 'C*ome Toge*ther' arranged by Michael Chapdelaine

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I love listening to the guitar, violin, and cello.

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

If you need help with your author platform, check out:

Build Your Author/Writer Platform
This 4-week class shows you Basic Website Optimization, Blogging Smart, Email Marketing, and Social Media Marketing
  


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Teacher and Marketer Recommends Book on Marketing

I have a motto: "Reading one book on book promotion is never enough."
Thus, I recommend Michelle Dunn's book, it's full of book-marketing essentials. 


Here is the heartfelt recommendation I wrote to Michelle, complete with disclaimer:

Dear Michelle:

Congratulations on a job well done! In the writing. In the accumulation of knowledge. And in the production. I shall recommend Mosquito Marketing to my UCLA students and my clients--every single one of them!

Yes, you may use that as an endorsement, though you may not want to because I contributed to the book. Thus I may appear biased. The thing is, I would have said the same thing even if I had no part in it! (-:

So, it's going up on my Web site (the Resources for Writers section right now! And into my recommendation list for my students. Soon. (-:

Thank you so much. Mosquito Marketing (ISBN 1453605304) will be a valued part of books I am part of--ones that I keep in a special reference (and brag!) library. Great work!

Best,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

-----
The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've loved. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by author names, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the index handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor. As a courtesy to the author, please tweet and retweet this post using the widget below:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Writing Books - Is There Money in It?

By Karen Cioffi

In the marketing arena, one of the messages conveyed is that unless you're a major author with a tremendous amount of sales, you will not get rich from writing books. You may not even be able to make a living. But, you should still strive to get published because it does open some doors, and allows for alternative means of income.

How does an author create a living out of writing?

Well, whether you're in the process of writing a book, in the process of having a book published, or your book is already available for sale, there are a few strategies writers can use to supplement their income, or create a living from writing:

1. Create e-books and offer them for sale. If you're a fiction writer, write about elements of writing, the process, the pit falls, the publishing process, your marketing strategies, and so on. Write what you know.

2. If you have interests other than the fiction you write, capitalize on them also. Maybe, you're a great cook, write about cooking. If you have an interest in health, do the research and write about it.

It's easy to create an ebook with images. Then publish it on Kindle, Lulu.com, Smashwords.com, or other such service.

If you're willing to invest in a clickbank account or another of these types of services, you can find affiliates to help you sell your e-books.

3. Don't forget this ONE essential strategy that all writers need to utilize: Write articles, research appropriate magazines and submit, submit, submit - if you don't submit your work, you will not get published, or earn an income from your writing. And, as stated above, being published does matter; it opens up doors and opportunities that may not otherwise be open.

4. If you're writing nonfiction, think spin-offs. You can create journals, and even videos for sale.

5. Look into selling through catalogs.

6. Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, seek out corporations or businesses that may be interested in your topic. For example: I wrote a bed time story and my writing coach, suggested I look into children's stores (furniture, clothing, toys, etc.) to see if they'd be interested in buying in bulk to offer the book to their clients for sale or as giveaways.

7. If you're published, offer teleclasses or coaching. This is one of those opportunities that will work better if you're published.

8. Promote, Promote, Promote!

These are a few of the strategies you can use to generate income from writing.

Tip: Remember to be focused and research your target market.

LIKE THIS ARTICLE? PLEASE SHARE IT!

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

If you need help with your author platform, check out:

Build Your Author/Writer Platform
This 4-week class shows you Basic Website Optimization, Blogging Smart, Email Marketing, and Social Media Marketing


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