We as authors/writers string words together with the hopes that someone finds what we do appealing enough to spark their interest to the end... however, those sentences must be flawless. If they aren't, we authors/writers know it. If there are mispelled words, if there is poor grammar or poor punctuation, it trips up the reader...and if there are enough of them, the reader won't finish the book.
There are hundreds of sites that offer writing prompts and help with story beginings. There are also pay sites that offer the best in editing and publishing. As a writer, you NEED that second set of eyes...sometimes the third and fourth sets as well. We like to think what we write is flawless, but in reality, there are stupid mistakes we all make that we as the writer don't catch (even on the twelfth read-through.)
If you do not have an editor, proofreader, or beta readers--please consider finding one or all. It really helps when you have beta readers who love what you write. They are all about reading your manuscript before anyone else, and if you promise them a signed copy of the paperback, they will bend over backwards to help. There are hundreds of editing services and independent editors out there, including me. As my tagline says...achieving perfection one word at a time...is what we all strive for.
Challenge yourself to learn more about good grammar and composition by taking a class at a local community college, or one of the many courses offered online through YouTube videos. We are never too old to learn and when we develop the mentality that we are, we are sorely mistaken.
With pen in hand and/or fingers on keyboard...may your writing muse allow you to put down the words in sentence form that will be the most incredible, magical masterpiece you've written.
There are many different forms of art--painting, drawing, writing music, performing music, writing stories, throwing clay, making jewelry, verbal storytelling, photography. The possibilities are endless.
Have you created a story based on a song? A painting? A piece of blown glass? A photograph? May I challenge you to do so? Choose whatever medium you want. Look at it...no, really look at it. Look at its layers, look at the creation time, imagine the artist's mood.
Recently, I was challenged by my co-teammates in #OurAuthorGang to create a story by looking at a photograph. I looked over the photos and one popped off the page. I began a sentence, which soon turned into a short story about the photo. This is a great exercise in impromptu writing...a time when you just write. You'd be surprised what your soul will pour forth from your fingers.
Here is my photo and story.
There’s a chill in the air and the heat from the fireplace feels wonderful…especially after spending most of the day outside doing chores.
I don’t mind milking the cows or tending the chickens. After all, it is food for the table.
I think it’s going to be another harsh winter. We lost several head of cattle last year because of the frigid temperatures. There’s only so much coal you can burn and someone needs to be awake twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to assure the barn doesn’t catch on fire. We only have ourselves, and of course, my brother Billy. It’s a challenge to take turns staying up all night.
Lance is doing the best he can, I know that. Poor man, he works from the dark of morning to the dusk at night. When he’s not outside tending to the animals or making repairs, he’s inside working on the financial aspect of keeping this place going.
Me, well, I keep the home fires burning. I make sure his clothes are clean and there is hot food on the table. I take care of the dog and cats and try to get a bit of sewing done so I can take it into town.
Jenny and Mick run the general store. Jenny’s said that my dresses are some of the finest she’s seen and she goes on lots of buying trips for fancy fabric. She says if she could take them into the city, they’d bring top dollar. I don’t know about that. It would be nice, though, to have some extra money. I just like to sew. She wants me to use some of that fancy lace fabric for something she calls overlays. She’s willing to take me with her the next time she goes into St. Louis.
Lance and I have been married for ten years now. Seems like yesterday when my Daddy and Momma walked me down the aisle. It was a lovely early spring day, and we had the wedding outside at my Grandmother’s house in her fabulous garden. The trellis of roses smelled divine as we stood under it reciting our vows.
We’d thought by now we’d have several children running around. That’s not the case. Doc says I can’t have kids, something about my female parts not being developed properly. Lance says it’s alright. So long as we have each other, that’s all that matters. I still wish I could have a baby or two to cuddle.
Lance and I usually sit in the rockers in front of the fireplace after the dishes from dinner are washed and put away. He plays his guitar and sings such wonderful songs to me. Sometimes he just plays music. When he does that, I read or work on my ever-growing stack of mending. Can someone tell me how there can be so many holes in a pair of socks?
The fire is dying slowly, the sign another day is ending. I’m sure we’ll awaken to a new foot of snow. But that is tomorrow and tomorrow has its own adventures. Right now, it’s time for Lance and me to head to bed and snuggle down under the heavy wool quilt. We’ll hold each other until we fall into a restful sleep and Lance will once again be up before the sun to care for our land and provide for our needs. I sure do love that man.
We all have memories--good and bad--of teachers who made us read books/assignments, negative reading experiences, negative writing experiences, positive publications, no reviews, some reviews. These memories can serve as stepping stones that better our careers, better us as a person.
One thing I caution over and over, write what you know. You will find it easier to put words on the paper if you know your subject. It's easy to formulate characters, what they look like, different aspects of their person. It's not so easy to sit down and put those thoughts on paper.
If you don't know your subject matter, your writing will show it. You will come off as ill-informed. Your sentences and paragraph transitions will not be good, nor will your character development or storyline.
Please, research what you are writing about...research it until it becomes part of you. Eat, sleep, and drink your research, then do it time and again until you believe what you read and it bleeds into what you write. Your story will thank you for that. You become a credible author, one readers long to read.
Take the time to read and ingest what you write. If it doesn't seem believable to you, how is it going to be that million dollar seller? How is it going to keep the interest of your readers? Readers long to have my creations in their hands, you say. Granted, there are some readers who follow authors so closely, they will read anything and not comment on how poorly it is generated. Don't be one of those authors. Be an author of credible, well-thought out stories with strong characters. Be that million seller.
May ushers in Spring, blooming trees and bulbs, new life, and so much more. It's the month to honor women/mothers, celebrate the accomplishments of high school and college graduates, remember those who've given their lives while in military service to our country.
With all of this happening, who's writing? Admittedly, things do seem to slow down about this time of the year in the literary world. Never fear...it will gear up again in June as new beach reads release and authors start thinking about holiday books.
Paper and pen (or computer and blank screen) are your friends. I encourage you to do character bios and chapter outlines...remembering to use the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How method. The more information you can get down, the more solid it will be. Soon you will find you have a strong foundation to build your story, create your fictional world.
Just a reminder to those of you still looking for an editor...I do have openings in June, July, and August, but slots are filling up fast. If you'd like to get on my calendar, please contact me as soon as possible so I can reserve time for your manuscript.
Looking foward to meeting and helping you create a stellar manuscript.
Until next month, keep writing!
I've read numerous posts lately about different sites closing and new ones springing up. I guess in our literary world, this will be the norm. The most recent is that Createspace will eventually be phased into the KDP avenue of Amazon. My thoughts on this are mixed. While I'm all for progress, I'm not sure this is progress...and again, if it works, why mess with it?
For those who are looking for editing or proofing of your manuscript...I have openings in May, June, and July. My prices are reasonable and I have excellent references upon request.
How can I make this newsletter more user friendly? What type of content would you like to see here in this space that would be helpful to you? If you have any suggestions, please, leave a comment. All comments will be answered and suggestions considered for implementation as topics here in the blog section of this newsletter.
Remember...I'm here to help you produce the best manuscript. I will answer your questions and hold your hand (to an extent) through the process to your formatter and publication. All you have to do is contact me.
Until next month...
This year began with a rocky start. The world, as a whole, is questioning everything, including purchasing books. Sales are down across the board in all genres. Why? No one knows. We as authors mustn't let this get us down. We must continue forward with our works in progress, marketing our stories, meeting our readers.
We get caught up in the "what if I'm not good enough" syndrome and it snowballs. Sometimes it's difficult to not buy into that mentality, especially when your sales are down. And, another aspect, is when other authors are doing well and you aren't...another side to the not being good enough.
How do we fix it?
Remember, you are not on a hamster wheel...you are an individual, and you write because you have stories to tell, not because of any other reason. Yes, it would be nice if we could all get rich from our writing, but realistically, that rarely happens. We need to rejoice in our little victories and we need to congratulate our author sisters/brothers when they succeed instead of feeling slighted.
Personally, I believe for sales to happen, we authors need to be visible. We need to have an online presence, since that is where 3/4ths of the population do business, but we need to be out in public with our readers/potential readers, too.
I can't stress this enough...we need to put out quality products: error free and well formatted content, Our book covers should reveal an aspect of the story on the pages, not look like every other cover out there. Yes, naked-to-the-waist-6-pack-well-built men are hot...but not on every book cover. Please use some thought designing your cover. If interested, I can share with you cover artists who will assure that your covers are unique to what you write.
I can help with the content of your manuscript. I have editing openings for April and May and I would love to help you make your manuscript the best it can be. Please contact me and let's do this! I'd appreciate you sharing with your friends. As always, my intent is to help you produce your perfect book...one word at a time.
With less than 36 hours left in the month of January, I have only one question...where did the month go? I swear I looked at my calendar just yesterday and it said January 1st!
If you don't keep a calendar or a schedule of events, may I encourage you to do so? This year I purchased a day planner that is kept in my car. In addition, I have a calendar, with large spaces to write, not far from my desk. I'd be lost without them. I'm finding as I age, it's important for me to put doctor appointments, personal appointments, and manuscript deadlines all in one place so it's easier to find.
I've visited with several authors the past couple months and edited a few manuscripts. One theme appears across the board with all of them...none of the authors took that extra five minutes to run their work through the spell checker/grammar checker. Please, make sure you do this. Your editors will thank you a hundred fold.
While cruising through Facebook, I stumbled across valuable information for us writers. Often I am stuck on a character's character...negative, positive, emotional traits. Thank you to my amazing author friend, Casey Bond, for sharing her photograph on Facebook of the new writing tools she'd received. The books, written by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, are 1. The Negative Trait Thesaurus, 2. The Positive Trait Thesaurus, and 3. The Emotion Thesaurus. These little gems have a plethora of information that will help get you back on track and plotting the best characters for your story line. I urge you, if you don't already own them, add them to your library.
In February, the month for love, I hope you're busy little worker bees, creating many romances, stories of happy ever afters, or break-ups that can't be reconciled. I wish you much success!
PS. I am now accepting manuscripts/projects for editing beginning the month of March. I have several openings and would love you to reach out.
My goal for this website was to bring you helpful writing information. That is still my goal.
2016 tossed a curve ball at me. Any and every thing that could go wrong with my health did. Because of that, my online presence has been sporadic, to almost non-existant. For that, I apologize.
Tomorrow begins a new year with new goals and new possibilities. A clean slate, if you will...a blank page. It is up to each of us what will appear on that blank page.
Beginning in February, I will resume the informational format. I hopefully will put together some helpful resources for you that you can implement in your writing process.
Thank you for hanging in there with me during this down time. I am taking manuscripts for the new year. If any are interested, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will discuss with you what times are open and available editing options.
Thank you for making 2016 a good year! I look forward to working with you in 2017.
The liter ary market is flooded with wannabe authors. Some are very good and some are very bad. While everyone has a story to tell, not many know how to tell their story.
When I sit down to write, I have to have an idea before words ever appear on the page. It seems once that idea festers in my mind for a few days, the characters that are coming to life in my head won't keep quiet!
I begin with an outline. A very simple outline. Remember, in my last post, we went over the 5 W's of writing. I implement those...who, what, when, where, why (and we can't forget the how, either)
The easiest place to start is the beginning. I find if I have a title, the rest comes easy. Next, it is all about the characters--who they are, what they do, when they are introduced into the story line, where they are in relationship to the other characters and why.
Sometimes, in the case of a series or trilogy, you may want to draw a map of the community you are writing about--be it fiction or fact. It gels in your mind exactly where things are, not to mention, when you have it in writing (or drawing, in this case) you have an easy reference.
Many times details are overlooked by using generalizing words...some, really, buildings, rooms, Your manuscript will come to life when you describe the situation or surroundings. Instead of saying "John wanted his fiance to meet some people from work," you might try "John wanted to introduce Mary to his secretary and manager." Instead of saying "The building down the street," try "The two story brick storefront on the corner of Main and 2nd."
The most important part of all...remember this is your story. You control the content. I can't stress enough that you read, re-read, read again, read aloud, read silently--if it doesn't make sense to you, chances are it won't make sense to your readers. When we read out loud and we hear our words, it gives a different perspective on our writing. We can change and mold our sentences, paragraphs, stories into the brilliant manuscript we want to world to embrace.
I don't know about you, but I want my work to be the best it can be. I don't want to cut corners or set unrealistic deadlines that force me to be shoddy in my writing. If I put out a rushed product, chances are readers will not pick up another thing I write.
In this day and age of anyone can put a book out there, please, be prideful in your work. Make your work the best. Settle for nothing less than perfection. I guarantee those extra days you spend reading and editing will pay off.
Happy September, everyone. It seems this year is flying right by at warp speed.
Last month we visited the parts of a sentence, the words, how to use them. This month, I'm going to share with you some wonderful tips. I recently read an article pertaining to the art world. The further I read, the more I thought these words could pertain to our art as well...our writing.
Here is my paraphrase of
To Improve Your Art, Ignore The Subplots
by John P. Weiss
"Nature does not capriciously scatter her secrets as golden gifts to lazy poets and luxurious darlings, but imposes tasks when she presents opportunities." ...Edgar Payne
In essence what this is saying...you must have a well rounded knowledge of nature in order to create stand-out work. I'm taking that a step farther...if we have an exceptional knowledge of words, how they fit together, how to plot, outline, and use proper grammer and punctuation, our project will stand in its own excellence.
Too many times we cut corners because of deadlines, when if we took those extra steps...describing colors, textures, characteristics...our completed project would have other layers of dimension. It wouldn't fall flat.
We're all guilty of adding too much information, as well. Sometimes we need to simplify not magnify our characters or plot. By honing in on one aspect instead of several, we could set the scenes better for what we try to convey.
Lately, I've found with my own writing that bunny trails happen. Other characters scream in my head to put them into the story. Soon, the story takes on a whole different meaning than the one I'd originally plotted. I write those screaming characters down anyway, hoping they will add to the theme not detract. Once an idea hits your mind, you may as well go with it and play it out. You can always delete or sharpen up the chapters when you do your initial edits.
If you remember in last month's blog, I mentioned we were going to learn 6 very important words...
those words are Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
HOW refers to the basics, to honing your writing. It also speaks to the values of your writing...the plot, the outline, the style, the word count. grammar, composition, punctuation. We cannot move forward in our stories if we don't have the basic skills to write the story.
**How will you engage your readers?
**How will you keep them reading, coming back for more?
**How will you evaluate the progress of your project?
**How will you market your product?
WHY deals with your reasons to write this particular book. It's your emotional response. Give your project a title right at the beginning. It will allow you to see the whole picture of the why. Make an outline, even if it is only one sentence, of your reason for what you are about to create. Your book, story, and/or article needs to have purpose behind it.
**Why have you chosen this subject matter...this genre?
**Why do you want to bring your story to the masses?
WHO in this instance takes on many jobs.
**Who is the target of your writing?
**Who are your characters?
**Who are YOU? (for the author blurb)
**Will you dedicate your book to someone? Who?
**Will you acknowledge anyone? Who?
WHAT is where you get to the meat of your story. This is where you shine as a writer, as a storyteller.
**What issues are you writing about?
**What scenes will best portray your characters' qualities?
**What can you do to make your characters multi-dimensional?
**What needs to be done to assure a quality product?
WHERE takes on the meaning of different things as well.
**Where is your story set? (location, room, etc.)
**Where will you market your finished product?
**Where will you write? (when you are comfortable, you are most productive. For some it is propped up in bed. For others it is in the recliner. Still others must sit at a desk, or outside on the deck. Wherever it is, make sure you are comfortable...that you have everything you need by you. I urge you to take frequent breaks...get up every 90 minutes and stretch, get something to drink, walk around, go outside. You'll find just those five or ten minutes will clear your mind and you'll be ready to get back to writing.)
**When in time is the setting of my book?
**When do I want to set my completion goal? (Publishers sometimes set that goal for us, but it is good for us to set a goal of completion as well.)
**When do I begin marketing?
**When do I do a cover reveal?
The general public has no idea what goes on in the process of writing. Some authors don't either, and it shows in the poor quality of the products they publish.
I've only touched the surface of what we authors go through to write and complete a quality product we are proud of...one that we feel will touch the lives of others. That, if it isn't already, is our goal.
Until October, Happy Writing!!!!