Six Reasons to Review Books


By Terry Whalin 
@terrywhalin

For many years, several times a week, publishers and authors send new books which arrive in my mailbox. To libraries, I’ve given away so many books that a church in Kentucky was able to gain accreditation for their school and it amounted to thousands of books. The mayor of the town even declared a Terry Whalin Day (a one-day event). I receive many more new books than I could possibly read—especially since I do it in my “free” time and write book reviews. Whether you are a new writer or experienced professional, in this article, I want to give six reasons to write book reviews.

As an editor, I often ask writers what they are reading. If they write fiction, I’m expecting they will tell me about novels they are reading. Years ago, I met an older man who had written a romance novel. He confessed that he did not read romance novels but only wrote them. This answer did not give me the right impression about this author. You don’t write a novel just because it is a large genre. Writers are readers and writing reviews documents your reading habits—and my first reason for writing reviews. 

Writing reviews helps you understand your market and audience. I encourage you to read and write about other books in your area of the market. As a writer, you can either be a competitor or cooperate and support your competition. I believe you are stronger if you support your competition with reviews.

Book reviews sell books and everyday people read reviews to make buying decisions. If your book on Amazon has less than 10 reviews and has been released for a year, that gives one message where if it has over 50 reviews (mostly four and five stars) then that sends a different message to the reader. As authors, we need to continually work at getting more reviews—even if your book has been out for a while.

When you write a five-star review for an author, reach out to that author and tell them about it. Reviews are an important means for you to support other authors and build relationships.

Books change lives and this reason is my fifth one about why to write book reviews. You can influence others to buy a book and read it from your review. I know firsthand books change lives because a key part of how I came to Christ years ago involved reading a book.I read a book called Jesus the Revolutionary and you can follow this link to read the magazine article that I wrote called Two Words That Changed My Life. Books can have powerful impact on our lives.

My final reason: Writing the short form is an important skill for every writer. For example, I do not review electronic books—only print books. If I read or listen to a book, then about 99% of the time, I will write a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Create a personal standard for your book review. Mine are not a single sentence but at least 100 words and often include a quote from the book to show that I’ve read it with a unique image.

Are you reviewing books or going to start reviewing books? Let me know in the comments below.

Tweetable: 

Do you write book reviews? This prolific writer and editor gives six reasons to write reviews. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)


W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s recent book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: www.terrywhalin.com. Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

MAP Making for Authors

Contributed by Margot Conor

Maps are a great addition to your book and readers love them. It is a visual assist to the worldbuilding you create in your story. Especially if you’re writing a fantasy or science fiction novel.  If you just want a few maps for your books then the online programs are the way to go.

I decided to include a map in my book and so the research began. I have training as a visual artist, so I choose to do this myself. However, I don’t have time to hand draw it. If you are interested in having a map in your book, let me share with you the variety of opportunities I found to achieve this goal.

I see two basic options, doing it yourself, or hiring an outside artist to do it for you.

 If doing it yourself is something you want to try there are a host of choices. Some are browser-based options, and if you have a good Internet connection that is the way to go. But there are some software programs you can download if you want to have it on your hard drive. I also found a few artists who you can contact if that is what you prefer to do.

I have tried Inkarnate and found it to be extremely easy and quite a lot of fun. My first map was acceptable, but now that I understand how it all works, I am sure I can improve on the design. These are drawn in color, So I will most likely download my finished design and then render it into a black-and-white version in Photoshop.

But whatever you choose, there is one important thing you should know about map making for your book. Usually, a map in a book will cover a spread of two pages. Don’t put anything of importance in the center of your map where the fold will be – it would be lost in the fold of the pages.

The following programs can help you generate various kinds of maps…

Roll for Fantasy Map Creator (https://rollforfantasy.com/tools/map-creator.php)
This free program is very easy to use. With user-friendly tools. It would be a good starting point for anyone. I appreciate their simple instructions on the home page too. There are no Copyright restrictions.

Inkarnate (https://inkarnate.com/)
Free for a basic set of tools. $27.53 yearly for full access.
World maps, regional Maps city and village Maps, Battle Maps Interior Maps. Intuitive Interface and high-quality art, a variety of over 18,500 maps assets, Human, elven dwarven orcish. Used by authors, boardgame designers, fantasy world builders, RPG game masters, and players. They have a wide variety of HD stamps, textures, and fonts.

Dungeon Scrawl (https://www.dungeonscrawl.com/)
Their core features are available to everyone for free. You can create unlimited maps, save and load your files, Undo/redo anything you make, export as a .png image.
They have a pro level that is $7 a month.
They offer a variety of brushes and textural layers that allow you to make unique creations. They even have Isometric Edit Mode for those who want to create in a 3-D mode.

Donjon (https://donjon.bin.sh/)
This site has free Roll Playing Game tools for all different systems and settings. And it also has what they call Random Map Makers, this includes: world generator, town generator, treasure map generator, and dungeon generator. It also has Microlight, Pathfinder and other popular fantasy variations. The maps are functional but not the best art.

World Anvil Worldbuilding Tools (https://www.worldanvil.com/dashboard/)
This is a free program for creative types. If you have hand-drawn your basic map, World Anvil lets you upload it and add various elements. They have many customization options that are not as easy or as fast using pen and paper alone. You can also create your map in their program – it is generated by your descriptions.

DGN Fog (https://www.dungeonfog.com/)
You can sign up for free. For storytellers, authors, and role-playing games, they have something called Epic Locations, a guide or catalog of places with sensory descriptions, sample encounters, potential adventures, and a list of adjectives that capture the essence of the area.
You can draw maps or rooms with vector-based tools, populate your map with 3000+ different props and textures (even upload your own) or decorate rooms. Needs licensing.

Map Making Software:
It only makes sense to buy the software and install it on your computer if you are going to be making a lot of maps, or if you are creating games. Many of these were created for creators of roll-playing gamers, but they can be used by those who want to make maps for books just as well.

Below are internet-free programs.

Pro Fantasy Software (https://www.profantasy.com/default.asp)
This is a Campaign Cartographer program. Their prices are divided into bundles that range from $74 to $620. If you want everything they have to offer, it is definitely on the high end.

Nortantis (https://jeheydorn.github.io/nortantis/)
This is a free software download. A simple fantasy map generator that creates a hand-drawn style of map. You can customize the terrain, icons, and background color.

Wonderdraft (https://www.wonderdraft.net/)
One-time purchase of 29.99. Their maps look a lot like what is available on Inkarnate. They don’t seem to have as many choices, but the maps are richer in tone and quite beautiful. sometimes too many choices can be overwhelming. They do have a few additional art packs available: Pirates and Fantasy.

Fractal Mapper 8.0 (https://www.nbos.com/products/fractal-mapper)
$34.99. Map-Specific software, map-related stamps, and automation which allows you to create natural-looking land masses. There is a free program added in the purchase called Fractal World Explorer. This lets you create and edit 3d relief maps.

Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator (https://azgaar.github.io/Fantasy-Map-Generator/)
Free to install. This is the most popular site for many fantasy writers as well as Dungeon and Dragon Player. They have twelve rough templates to start your map. Then you fill in the details. They also have a tool to paint new terrain.

Watabou's Medieval Fantasy City Generator (https://watabou.itch.io/medieval-fantasy-city-generator)
This app generates random medieval city layouts of a requested size. The generation method is arbitrary, but it produces nice-looking maps. This is a free program.

FlowScape (https://pixelforest.itch.io/flowscape)
$10 software download. This is a 3D map generator. There are twenty presets you can edit and too many elements available to list, it is quite comprehensive. This is a great way to let your readers into the worlds you create. You can even create your characters there.

Hand Drawn by an artist…
If you go this route, no matter who you hire to draw your map, you need to make clear who will own the finished product. Ideally, you want to own the rights to your map.

Angelinetrevena: Angeline Trevena https://www.instagram.com/angelinetrevena/)
She is an author and artist who enjoys worldbuilding and making fantasy Maps. I don’t know what she charges. The advantage of having a hand-drawn map is that it is unique to your project and exactly what you want.

Stardust Book Services: Cartography (https://www.stardustbookservices.com/cartography)
The maps are detailed and interesting, each would be unique to your project. However, they are on the high end. Their Options: $199 to $899.

If you are set on getting an artist to draw your map, but you don’t have much of a budget you can try contacting someone on one of these sites:
Upwork: https://www.upwork.com/
Freelancer: https://www.freelancer.com/
Fiver: https://www.fiverr.com/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Margot Conor has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn't until the COVID lock-down that she had enough time to dedicate to the craft and bring something to completion. Having finished her first novel, she went through the grueling two-year process of editing. Now she has jumped into the author's world with both feet. She's preparing to debut her first novel, which means learning how to promote it. The last year has been spent attending many writing retreats, seminars, and writers' events. She also listened to presentations specifically on the topic of publishing and book marketing. She will be sharing what she learns with the reader.
 You can learn more about Margot and her writing at her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/margotconor/
 
 
 
 

Writing, Reading & Learning



As writers, we are always looking for inspiration, whether we want to revitalize old writing projects or start on new ones.

Last month, on GoalChatLive, I discussed about writing, reading, and learning - and how all three work together - with authors Judy Baker, Guy Morris, and Lisa Niver. Judy Baker is the Book Marketing Mentor, Guy Morris specializes in intelligent action thrillers, and Lisa Niver is author of Brave-ish. The panel shares their writing journey and projects, thoughts on reading, advice for writing, and so much more.

Their Writing Proceses

  • Guy: Begins with the premise, does 2 to 3 years of research, then outlines, writes first draft, edits, edits, edits, does more research, more edits. 
  • Judy: Starts by dictating to get the ideas out, since she edits too much when writing. Also, she uses music and aromas to get in the zone, since the more senses you can involve, the deeper your writing.
  • Lisa: Uses her teaching background and gives herself homework. She seeks inspiration - music, notes, videos - and uses that as resource.     

Writing Goals 

  • Judy: Find something you are grateful for and write about it. It sets you up for a positive mindset … you will be far more productive 
  • Guy: Learn to love to learn. Find out what you want to know and then learn it. 
  • Lisa: Get a book out of the library and start reading it. 
  • Summary: Write for 5 minutes a day, learn for 5 minutes a day, read (or listen to an audiobook) for 5 minutes a day

Watch our conversation.

Final Thoughts 

  • Lisa: Take advantage of the change of season to set goals and make new plans. 
  • Guy: Never let your past define your future. Keep moving forward. You and your writing will get where you want to go. 
  • Judy: Your book marketing is like growing a garden. Plant new seeds every day.
Whether your focus is on fiction or non-fiction writing, look at things differently, so you can breathe new life into your work  

* * * 

For more inspiration and motivation, follow @TheDEBMethod on Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin! 

* * *

How do you reinvigorate your writing? Please share in the comments. 

* * *
Debra Eckerling is the award-winning author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD, which is her system for goal-setting simplified. A goal-strategist, corporate consultant, and project catalyst, Debra offers personal and professional planning, event strategy, and team building for individuals, businesses, and teams. She is also the author of Write On Blogging and Purple Pencil Adventures; founder of Write On Online; host of  #GoalChatLive aka The DEB Show podcast and Taste Buds with Deb. She speaks on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.


Amazon Adds New Marketing Aid for Their KDP Print Books


From Carolyn Howard-Johnson,
Author of The Frugal Book Promoter, 3rd Edition

This may be the shortest post I’ve ever done for this #WritersontheMove blog. But why wait when there is good news afoot. And why stretch it out? I’ll try to keep it simple, too. 

Amazon just announced the best new feature they have instituted for the benefit of authors in a very long time. It’s for print books only—paper or hardcover. It will help Amazon authors with a pre-release feature that is very nearly as valuable as the preorder campaigns big publishers are using for their books. 

Think Rachel Maddow’s Prequel. I just ordered it. Her hardcover of that title is promised on October 17th at a bit of a discount. It seems to me that her book has been available for preorder for what seemed an immeasurable chunk of time. If it’s a good enough marketing tool for Maddow, indies, and those published by a publisher smaller than Penguin sure enough should want to use a similar marketing technique for their books. Whether you have your manuscript ready now or plan one for the future. The announcement from Amazon makes it clear that the new plan isn’t quite as broad as it is for Penguin and other biggies, but there are intimations that, too, may be on the horizon. Until then, we will now be able to set our own release dates for print up to 90 days in advance.

Here's what self-published authors (Amazon-published authors) of print books (including hardcover books) can now do and it came straight from Amazon to my mailbox: 

 

“We're excited to announce that starting today (Oct 5, 2023), you have the option to decide when your book’s detail page [I call that page our “buy page”] becomes available to readers on Amazon for your KDP paperback and hardcover books. When creating a new print book, you'll see an option to release your book now or schedule a release date. If you choose to schedule a release date, you'll be able to select a date 5 to 90 days in the future for your book to go live on Amazon. On this date, the book’s detail page will become visible at 12:00 AM GMT for readers to purchase your KDP book on Amazon everywhere you have territory rights.”

 

This will let Amazon-publishing peeps...

1.    Have a big hunk of time to use the Amazon link for their book’s buy page on much or all of their pre-marketing campaign—up to ninety days.

2.    That allows us to spend time focused on engaging readers and marketing our books instead of doing the rushed release so many authors tend to do now.

3.    You can order author copies early so you’ll be covered for your very first launch party or book signing.

4.    You’ll have that comfort level of knowing the copies you order are on their way. 


Reminder: Please note, scheduling a release date is not the same as setting a preorder time for your readers to buy your book—yet. KDP says, “KDP doesn’t offer [that] for print books at this time. To learn more about release date options, supported formats, and requirements, visit our Help page: 
https://kdp.amazon.com/help/topic/GZUV7SNV728WT4QE .”


MORE ABOUT TODAY'S CONTRIBUTOR



Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, editor, 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 published by Modern History Press include the third editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor which won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and the coveted Irwin award. That series includes books on other topics for writing as varied as writing book proposals and editing tricky homonyms. 

Five Great Little Tips Directly from "The Frugal Editor"

Quick Editing Excerpts from Carolyn Howard-Johnson



                                                       
  
1.            Here's one of my favorite agent tips found in the third edition of my The Frugal Editor's chapter titled “Let’s Peek Into the minds and Inboxes of Literary Agents."  It's full of query letter pet peeves agents generously let me quote: Kae Tienstra says agents can tell when they are being “buttered up...we know you’re impressed with our ‘wonderful publishing credentials and vast experience’ as agents. But, ya know? We’ve only been agents for a short time so who are we kidding here?”
 
2.            Don’t trust your spell checker. “…copy-and-paste remnants hang in your copy until you, the author, an editor, or a careful reader (embarrassing!) ream them out. That’s because spell checkers don’t recognize one or two letters like or an as typos. They also don’t know the difference for the spelling of many homonyms that you will know once you have read The Frugal Editor’s chapter on homonyms writers frequently miss.
 
3.            The Frugal Editor gives you permission to try to get in on the book cover discussion, even if your book will be traditionally published. The most destructive and common error? Putting the author’s name in small font at the bottom of the cover design.
 
4.            Keep up with the latest trends in “politically correct” language. Yes. Even if you don’t intend to abide by them. Sometimes it isn’t about politics at all. It’s about avoiding reviewer’s critiques or, worse, rejections from agents, publishers, and the journalists who might otherwise give you some free ink. (Learn more in the chapter “About Stuff That Shouldn’t Trouble Us But Does.”)
 
5.            Even humorists who do not plan to write a book need to brush up on the niceties of dialogue. The media uses anecdotes (with or without dialogue) more than ever before. Find little tidbits in my “Editor’s Extras” scattered throughout The Frugal Editor including the one titled “Stephen King on Making Dialogue Logical.”

                                                        ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the newly released third edition of The Frugal Editor from Modern History Press. It is the second multi award-winning book in her HowToDoItFrugally Series where it serves as an example of Amazon’s new free benefit for series of books that offers a special package deal—much like a boxed set—for all her books. (That’s a bonus tip!) 

 The Frugal Editor has been fully updated including a chapter on how backmatter can be extended to help readers and nudge book sales. It’s available on Amazon in paper, hard cover, or as an e-book.


Want to be a Children's Author? Find Out What's Stopping You!

 


 Contributed by Karen Cioffi, Children's Ghostwriter, Editor, Coach

There are many people, men, woman, professionals, and those in business who  dream of being the author of a children’s book.

Usually, it’s to inspire a child or bring memories or stories they told their children to life. Or, it can be a business person who wants a children’s book as part of their product line.

From my experience, the majority of these people want to be author of a picture book.

I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of queries about starting a project that fell through.

Why does this happen?

Why do the majority of people who want to be children’s author never follow through on their dream?

While I don’t know for sure, I do think there are a few basic reasons.

1. THE COST.

Yep. If you are hiring a children’s ghostwriter, it will cost money.

This is a huge concern for most, and understandably.

What really surprised me during 2020 (COVID time) was the number of people who did use my services. It was my busiest year ever. It had to be that people had time on their hands and wanted to be kept busy.

Then there are the writing services on sites like Fiverr. These types of services, and many others, have writers who don’t know English very well or aren’t professionals.

Yes, it will be cheaper than a professional writer, but keep in mind that you get what you pay for. If you don’t care about the quality of the book you’ll be author of, it’s an option.

Below is an example from a Fiverr project a client came to me to fix. This was for a picture book:

His feet were heavy with reluctance as he dragged them unwillingly one in front of the other. He looked at his reflection in the bathroom mirror and couldn’t help but notice his sad expression. His piercing dark blue eyes, once full of joy and excitement, now looked weary and defeated.

In another section "really" was used three times within four sentences.

The entire story’s formatting was horrible, such as the lack of new paragraphs for new speakers. There were grammatical errors and multiple points of view.  

So, again, you get what you pay for.

I can’t imagine someone wanting to have their name as author of a story like that.

Another cost factor with children’s books is illustrations.

If you’re self-publishing, you’ll need to hire an illustrator for a picture book.

You’ll also need illustrations for chapter books and simple middle grade books.

I listened to a YouTube video with editor and former literary agent Mary Kole. (Check out her YouTube channel, Good Story Company.) She said if you want a high-quality professional illustrator for a picture book, you’re looking at $10,000 to $20,000. And, if you want an acclaimed illustrator, it’s much more than that. (1)

Obviously, most people can’t afford that. So, it’s understandable why some people drop the idea.

But don’t let that stop you dead in your tracks. I work with good illustrators who charge far, far, far less.

2. MOTIVATION WANES DUE TO LIFE.

One perfect example of losing motivation is a client from 2019.

I wrote a young adult (YA) story for an attorney. It was almost done and he was gun-ho. He even wanted seven picture books written after the YA was finished.

He paid in full and we were working to finish it.

Then he slowed down. Family. Vacation. Work.

Then COVID-19 hit.

I contacted him and he said he’d get back into it, but he didn’t.

I tried contacting him again as he paid for a completed manuscript and there are still about five or so chapters to go, but no word.

So, as we all know, life happens. This can put a monkey wrench in any project.

3. IT SEEMS TOO COMPLICATED.

There is a lot involved in having a book ghostwritten and illustrated.

And, it’s a lot of work if you’re writing the story yourself.

After that, it’s the business of getting the book formatted, the interior design, and uploading for publication and distribution.

It can seem daunting.

But it doesn’t have to be.

There are a number of services that will help you put your book together and get it published. I’ve even added this service to my site to make it easier for my clients.

There is plenty of help out there.

So, what to do?

If your dream is to have your name as author of a children’s book, take the first step.

Find out what’s involved and what the cost will be. This will give you a solid foundation on what you need to do and what you’ll need for a budget.

I'd be happy to discuss your children's writing project with you.

It may be that your imagination is getting carried away.

Don’t let your dream go unfulfilled.

Get started today!

References:
Picture Book Author-Illustrator
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtLfw-yUeJY

This article was first published at: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2021/06/06/whats-stopping-you-from-becoming-a-childrens-author/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, ghostwriter, editor, rewriter, and coach with clients worldwide. If you need help with your story, click HERE.

Karen also offers:

FICTION WRITING FOR CHILDREN COURSE
A guided self-study course and mentoring program.

HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN'S FICTION BOOK
A DIY book to help you write your own children’s book.

WRITERS ON THE MOVE PRESS
Self-publishing help for children’s authors.




My #2 Pencil

Image courtesy of pixabay, https://www.pexels.com/ 

By Linda Wilson  @LinWilsonauthor

Do you compose on paper? On your computer? Or somewhere in between? These days, I compose on paper, on my computer, and standing on my head. Any way the muse strikes me. But back when I started out, I brushed off my trusty #2 pencil and wrote everything intended for publication longhand. Back then, in addition to reading how-to books, I read up on authors' lives to learn how they got their ideas, what their trials and tribulations were, etc. In this post, I thought it might be fun to explore how famous writers did their composing. I've summarized a few.

Quirky, Yet Effective

Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens - 1835-1910), lived in many houses during his lifetime, but he owned only one special bed. It is large and decadent, made of carved oak; he and his wife Olivia bought it in 1878 in Venice, Italy. Today, Twain's bed can be viewed at his 19-room Victorian mansion in Hartford, Connecticut.

It is in Twain's beloved bed that he did much of his writing, including Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain was enthusiastic about this writing method, as quoted in the May 9, 2010 article, "Mark Twain Wrote (and Smoked!) in Bed," by Lisa Waller Rogers. "Just try it in bed sometime. I sit up with a pipe in my mouth and a board on my knees, and I scribble away. Thinking is easy work, and there isn't much labor in moving your fingers sufficiently to get the words down." 

Truman Capote said he wrote "horizontally," lying down in bed or on a couch. He would write the first two drafts in longhand, in pencil; and although draft three would be accomplished on a typewriter, it was done in bed.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968), author of The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, and Of Mice and Men, works which earned him a Nobel Prize in Literature and a Pulitzer Prize, wrote his drafts in pencil. He kept exactly two dozen sharpened pencils (#2's?) on his desk, and used only certain brands of pencils that had to be pinpoint sharp.   

Twain said it best, as one of America's best loved authors was known to do: "I used to think there was only one place where I could write, and that was in Elmira, [New York] . . ." where Twain spent his summers. "But I've got over that notion now. I find that I can write anywhere."

Mind-Hand-Heart Combo

I remember in grade school when the pencils we carried in our plastic zipper bags had to be #2's. #1's simply wouldn't do (my #1's squeaked anyway, and my scribblings came out looking light and weak. And, for the record, mechanical pencils never worked for me.) Just for fun I did a five-minute online search and found many U.S. school systems still require #2's in 3rd-5th grade. Some school systems didn't specify. One required a #2 pencil with eraser, and a pencil or cigar box! The term "cigar box" was followed by "Plastice, small size with secure lid." Okay, so the term "cigar box" is used loosely here? Does anyone even have a cigar box these days?

Later, I got Bic'd. I was never the same. What a smooth ride my Bic pen was. That lasted a while. Much later, when I became a writer in earnest, I had to revert back to my pencil, mainly so I could erase all the mistakes. I had good company. After all, didn't Capote write his first drafts in pencil? Hey, the research backs us up (Capote and me, that is.) According to John Roger and Paul Kaye in their book, Living the Spiritual Principles of Health and Well-Being, there is an important connection between your brain and your hand. "The neural impulses from the fingers are sent back to the brain so that the writing actually releases and records the patterns of the unconscious. I call them 'beach balls,' those things we have suppressed for a long, long time and on which we have expended energy to keep under the surface. They can carry tremendous emotion. So at times you may end up writing very forcefully."

Trial by Fire

In this field of ours, no one gets to bypass the heart. I was no exception. One night in the beginning of my writing journey, I woke up in a cold sweat and actually sat up in bed. I had wanted to write freelance articles for our local newspaper but I had to ask myself, “Who am I to think I can put together an article anyone would want to read?” I was scared nobody would. But I couldn't ignore what my heart was telling me to do. I read a lot of how-to books and then went out and found a subject, a blind woman who was a storyteller. I interviewed her and took copious notes in ink. I also recorded every word she said. Then, somewhat like Capote, I laid down on my couch and transposed the interview. As you can imagine, this took hours and hours. All in ink. Even then, I understood the difference between ink and pencil. I couldn't use my pencil. I couldn't take the chance that my notes might smudge; every word had to be verbatim. When I finally got to writing the piece, I reverted back to pencil, wrote it all out in longhand, then typed it on my computer, printed it, and hand-delivered it to the editor who had told me he would read it "On spec." (you can tell this article was written in the late 1980s, can’t you?!) Happy days, he accepted it! Thus was born my very first published article. We won't mention that my husband took the photo for the article and made three times more than I did. The fact was, I had sold my first piece, and the big-city newspaper company (The Albuquerque Journal) paid its freelance writers!

I soon found that this method took far too long. I had to learn how to compose on my computer. Luckily, this turned out to be a natural transition, and I soon arrived at a comfortable compromise, which is how I have continued to compose today. It doesn't matter where I start--on paper or on the computer, though composing on the computer is faster. The important thing is I begin. I go as far as I can. Usually this first inkling of a story or article is rough. But of course, that's the nature of the beastly first draft. After the initial flow, I usually write the rest on the computer and print it. It sits for a while. The first edit takes place at a different place than my desk, on paper, with my pencil. Oh, how refreshing a change of scene can be! Back to the computer. This back-and-forth process continues until the piece is finished.

#2 Goes to Work

Recently, I took another look at a short story that needed revising. Over several years I have tried to make this story work. But the plot was weak. I've never given up on it, though, thanks to advice from one of my creative writing instructors. She encouraged our class to never give up on a story--just re-work it.

Since then, following her advice, I have sold several re-worked stories. So with this story, I tried an experiment. I changed my main character from an animal to a human (a boy). The transformation was stunning. Gone was the anthropomorphic world I had created, which I understand has few markets anyway. Enter a realistic story. True, I had to give up much of the original story's charm. Who knows, maybe that charm can work in another story. The important thing is I now have a new main character and a viable story.

Which brings me to my point: The changes couldn't have been accomplished without a mind-hand-heart connection--on paper--and written with a pencil. I have learned from experience that the very first idea may not be the best. However, it's a first attempt, so I write it down. I see if the new idea fits with the story (such as changing the main character). If it doesn't, I erase it and put in another new idea. I keep going until I start to feel excited. That's another indicator I have learned. That your feelings will tell you whether the story works or not. For me, my enthusiasm about a story can go from ho-hum to visceral excitement. I rant and pace and get out of breath, I love it so! Thanks to my pencil, I suppose composing in this way offers flexibility. I had to learn, though, that many story fixes don't work. I had to learn that often, better ideas have to evolve. It is the rare story or article that falls in place with very little editing. Although happily, those do occur. With re-worked stories and articles, once the necessary elements are covered--once the piece works--the process of editing by going back and forth between paper and computer can begin. Until finally, the story is ready for market.

For more information, please visit the websites listed below:

"Mark Twain Wrote (and Smoked!) in Bed," by lisa waller rogers, https://lisawallerrogers.com/2010/05/09/mark-twain-wrote-and-smoked-in-bed/ 

"Learn from the Greats: 7 Writing Habits of Amazing Writers," by Leo Babauta, https://writetodone.com/learn-from-the-greats-7-writing-habits-of-amazing-writers/"

The Weird Habits of These Famous Writers Will Surprise You, by Arianna Rebolini, https://www.buzzfeed.com/ariannarebolini/you-need-to-read-the-strange-rituals-of-these-famous-writers


Linda Wilson is the author of the Abi Wunder Mystery series and other books for children. Her two new releases are Waddles the Duck: Hey, Wait for Me! (2022) and Cradle in the Wild: A Book for Nature Lovers Everywhere (2023). You’ll find Linda on her Amazon author page, on her website at LindaWilsonAuthor.com, and on Facebook.

Click the links for free coloring pages and a puppet show starring Thistletoe Q. Packrat. While you’re there, get all the latest news by signing up for Linda’s newsletter.  Connect                                                  with  Linda: FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram


                              


On Mourning the Loss of Ask Amy for Her Daily Wisdom with My Oatmeal and Coffee Each Morning

  The Guest Blogger with Typewriter  She Used  in Early Ann Landers Days To #WritersontheMove Subscribers and Visitors: Amy Dickinson just a...