Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Fear of Writing by Diana Flegal

At any point in your writing journey have you suffered from a fear of failure? If so you are in good company.

Mind Tools blog mentions it's easy to find successful people who have experienced failure. For example:
  • Michael Jordan is widely considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time. And yet, he was cut from his high school basketball team because his coach didn't think he had enough skill.
  • Warren Buffet, one of the world's richest and most successful businessmen, was rejected by Harvard University.
We all know many successful authors have been rejected an outstanding number of times before getting traditionally published.

Can fear and failure work FOR us as writers?

Author Michael Clarkson says in his book Intelligent Fear: Fear can cause us to perform poorly in pressure situations or lead us to worry until we're immobilized, panic-stricken, or just plain helpless. But, if handled correctly, fear can actually work for us, giving us strength and courage when we need it the most.

Derek Sanderson- former NHL Hokey player agrees: "Fear is intelligence. Fear is God's way of making you tentative about something that will harm you. Fear keeps us civilized. Fear keeps us safe and alert. Don't deny fear. It's what makes us function properly."

To use fear to our advantage Marie Forleo teaches: Don't try to get over your fear, you need to get into your fear. Fear is excitement with the breaks on. Use that excitement to propel you forward.

Dealer Marketing Magazine tells us: When you’re afraid, you have three choices:
  • Ignore your fears and hope they go away.
  • Face your fears and stand up to them.
  • Use fear to your advantage. Embrace your fears.
When we use fear to our advantage, we no longer give him any say or any control. You have transferred its power to you.

Action conquers fear. Peter Nivio Zarlenga 


Nike presents: Just Do it! We're all capable of a little more -- a little faster, a little higher, a little stronger, a little more. And when we look at all of the little things we've done, we'll see the big things we're doing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Samples, Signings, and Sales by Andy Scheer

Next month I plan to drive three hours to a book signing. I'll take two friends. At the event, we'll each buy a new hardcover.

All three of us will likely tell others. First about our plans to attend, then about our experience with the signing.

Later we'll volunteer or be asked how we liked the book. We might even give our impressions of meeting the author.

All this started with a sample.

While scanning Amazon's free Kindle top 100 listings, I found a short story by an author I recognized.

I clicked and discovered it introduced a new series co-written with another author friend. A couple more clicks and my Kindle had a short story that occupied me at lunch for two days.

I liked it. I checked the co-author's website. I learned the novel's release date – and the fact of a signing next month.

I decided to attend. I asked a friend, then another. As we drive there and back, we'll likely talk about books. Maybe discover new titles or authors we should read.

When you give away a sample, who knows what will happen.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Inspiring Quote from Cecil Murphey

Instead of seeking to modify and reshape your personality, I plead with you to accept, value, and nurture yourself. Why don't you become more fully who you are? In the process, you mature, and your writing improves.

Unleash the Writer Within  by Cecil Murphey

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sharing a poem by Terry Burns

We were returning from a trip. Saundra lost a baby to crib death and we were coming through where he was buried. She wanted to mark the grave but it was a Sunday and all we could find was a single rose in a convenience store. I had her drive and I wrote a poem on the back of an envelope. The rose, with the poem, made everything okay. For some reason I felt moved to share it with you today.

The Rose

No gaudy display of  floral profusion
No acres of  flowers in splendid confusion
No two dozen roses so tall and so proud
But the statement they make is a little too loud.

Sometimes love must be whispered, not shouted,
So that the message truly cannot be doubted.
Sometimes one rose, alone and so shy
Can testify loving, and then tell you why.

It says “I love you and remember you, too.”
Carries all the feelings that I bring to you.
So listen now when the whispers start
And know that the message comes straight from my heart.

Written in just a matter of minutes to give comfort to my wife, this simple poem has been reprinted numerous times, has been in a greeting card, and won a national poetry competition. A single rose is still very special to us. When something is right, it is right . . . the first time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Make the Most of Your Online Profile by Diana Flegal

In this face paced social media saturated world we are all in one way or another building our platform.

LinkedIn is a searchable database of talent and skills and is todays rolodex.
Teens have a FB page and tweet with their idols, while others rally around causes (#cleanwaterforAfrica) and sports teams.

Churches have interactive websites with bios of their staff, stream live video or podcast their weekly sermons, tweet and make announcements on their FB page. Here is mine.

Singles 'meet up' on dating sites. Zoosk, Christian Mingle, eHarmony and probably are the most well known. There are even ones for niche audiences.

Writer, parent, pastor, teen, or single; we all need to craft a great profile.

Here are some tips:
  • Be authentic and honest: it will only come back to haunt you at the most inopportune time. Like when that employer you just interviewed with googles your name.    
  • Provide a current photo: not an Avatar or a picture of your cat. 
  • Establish your expertise: List your education and recent past and present work history. 
  • Share your online presence: link to your blog or website, twitter address and FB page.
  • Humanize yourself: Take the time to list your hobbies, club affiliations (goodreads), favorite movies and books. This will help you find your 'tribe'.  
  • Utilize search engines: to reach the audience you wish, sprinkle key words throughout your content. 
  • Edit yourself: ask a friend to look over what you have written. 
Rules of Engagement:
  • Don't be a 'player': No hitting on women just because they are women and vice versa- no googling hunks just for eye candy's sake. Only 'friend' someone because you have a genuine interest in who they are or what they do.
  • Vet everyone: Do not friend everyone that seeks you out. Not everyone has pure motives or say appropriate things. Guard your feed.
  • Be a good 'friend': Stop by once in a while and let them know you are visiting by commenting on a post you liked or a photo they shared. Did they make you smile, laugh, or cry? Did you pray for them? Let them know. Pay it forward.

8 Steps to Building a Powerful LinkedIn Profile
Twitter profile help
Published authors need to make the most of their Amazon author profile.

In preparing for this blog, I decided to 'google' Steeler fan dating site and I found this article. Glory Be, my prayers have been heard. I have to run. I need to prepare a new profile.

Let us know what you learned the hard way, or a tip you use that has benefited your online presence.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Keep Better Records by Andy Scheer

What about this receipt from Writer's Digest?” my wife said.

The weekend before Tax Day, I was scanning the spreadsheet of my writing income and expenses, trying to match the entries with the categories in Turbo Tax.

I thought I'd kept good records. On December 31, I'd even recorded the odometer reading for the car I'd driven to some writers conferences.

But as the April 15 clock ticked, I realized I'd missed some expenses, like my subscription to WD. And what happened, I wondered, to those receipts for meals en route to that conference?

Last year I moderated a webinar by tax consultant Gary A. Hensley – brother of writing instructor Dr. Dennis Hensley. The hour's investment saved me plenty.

If you're not familiar with Gary's website “taxsolutionsforwriters,” check it out. You'll find advice you can apply throughout the year.

Come next April 15, you'll be grateful – especially if you remember to keep good records.

Monday, April 21, 2014

I watched the Ten Commandments…again. By Linda S. Glaz

Once grown and visiting home for Easter each year, I found I just had to watch the Ten Commandments each time. In fact, it became such a tradition that I felt cheated if I didn’t see it every Easter.
I remember one year when I was pregnant and sewing a baby quilt while watching it. Yes, it was done by the time the movie was. We used that blanket for a victim in a car accident on our trip back home. Bleeding badly. I’ll always remember that blanket because of giving it away under those circumstances. Really touched me.
But I was discussing the movie.
Now, when I watch it, the acting is actually quite cheesy, and even the dialogue is pretty difficult to listen to in places. But I can’t bring myself not to watch it. The fact of the matter is, when a work is so BIG and ahead of its time, it continues on even when it’s lost the newness, becomes outdated. Can you imagine the special effects they would use today?
There are only a few Ten Commandments in anyone’s lifetime. A handful that will live on in hearts and minds for decades. The best of the classics.
Each time we sit down to write, our intent should be, no matter the genre, to write something that will live on. Whether a high concept thriller, or a sweet romance, we want to write a story that will live forever…in someone’s heart.
Do you view your writing that way, or are you just ‘cranking out’ a story?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A matter of taste by Terry Burns

I pick things to represent that I like to read.

That's not hard to understand. It's something I like and it holds my interest. I feel good about trying to get it out where others can read it as well. I'm happy to have my name attached to it. It's a matter of taste.

But what if an acquiring editor that I send it to does not share that taste and it isn't something they like to read? Well, duh, they're going to pass on it. They are looking for things that fit the catalog slots that they are trying to fill, but they are also looking for things that they personally enjoy. That's a matter of taste too.

I have editors who are good friends but have never bought anything from me. Our tastes are different. There are others who like similar things that I like and we've done quite a bit of business together. Often I take something because I do know somebody is looking for it. Maybe it is not my normal fare but I feel I know where it goes. The danger there is the fact that if the place I think it is supposed to go doesn't want it, there may be a limited market for it otherwise.

Then there are the editors that I just am not sure what they want. When I submit to them I don't get any feedback that will tell me what they like or did not like in a submission. Nothing to narrow it down and help me to better find something that would be a good fit for them. I can read something they edit for publication and maybe get an idea that way, but unfortunately with the large number of incoming submissions that I have to handle I don't have the kind of reading time that I would like to have.

I ask my clients to read in their genre. Perhaps between us we can stay abreast of books that will help us nail down these areas of interest, better define particular editor tastes. After all, we don't sell books to publishing houses, we sell them to an editor that really likes the offering personally.

It is, after all . . . a matter of taste. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Word Origins and Meanings by Diana Flegal

Shakespeare once said: What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Did you know all written languages were originally figures of speech?

"Get out of town!", you say?

The American language is constantly changing, influenced by the many cultures living here as well as technology. Years ago someone coined the words Hot Seat for the electric chair, which we now use in a much broader sense, meaning under pressure.  Silly originally meant happy but now means foolish. If enough time passes, the original meaning will be lost as the broader one takes it's place.

When an author is writing a contemporary story, they need to use words that their reading audience can relate to, but they can not be too trendy, as the words meaning will quickly be replaced. Just as Groovy dates a story to the 70's, it is best to choose words that might still be in use 10-15 years ahead.

Wikipedia tells us the definition of many words that have origins specific to the internet. One example is the word Meme: A meme is "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture".[3] Planking is a meme example. Someone is photographed laying face down, posts the photograph online and they have planked.  Check out these hilarious photos of planking.

To get an idea how old words are given new meanings, and new words are created, check out Global Language Monitor's list of the top trending words of 2013.

A new word that got my attention was Twitflocker — The Next Big Thing in technology.

It is so common for us to say, "Is there an App for that"?

A new expression my friends and I are using now was coined from a T.V. advertisement:

"I unfriend you"!

"That's not how this works, that's not how any of this works".

What fun new words have become your favorites or have at least made you smile?

I like this one: crickets! Meaning silence - no one is talking.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Edit It Cold

My writing, like me, could stand to lose 30 pounds.

Try as I might to write lean and edit leaner, surplus words still slip in.

Ironic, since much of my time as a freelance book editor goes toward liposuctioning fat from another's writing.

Overwriting is certainly one of my literary vices,” my current client said after I'd emailed him a sample of how I'd edit his novel, “so please feel free to apply a chainsaw (rather than a scalpel) as you see fit.”

He may not realize I do the same with my own words.

At my day job, I sometimes adapt articles from material I first posted here. I open the file hoping I won't have to change much. I'm almost always wrong.

The difference? Months have passed, giving me a fresh perspective. Instead of viewing the words as my own, I can see them more objectively.

Instead of seeing what I meant to write, I see what I actually wrote.

Time to start cutting.

New York Times bestselling novelist Jerry B. Jenkins advises writers to print their work, put the pages in the freezer overnight, then look at them cold.

With some metaphoric allowance, that works for me.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Power’s Out…What’ll We Do? By Linda S. Glaz

We had a huge wind plow through Southeastern Michigan last night stronger than a bulldozer and about as dangerous. Not only were trees older than Methuselah uprooted, power poles downed, and lawns covered with an inch of thick hail, but the power went out.
What? No power?
What will we do?
My Kindle had registered only 15% the night before, and I hadn’t recharged. However, I had found my old one (when I cleaned my office, something that had been desperately needed) two days earlier and had charged the poor thing. It hadn’t seen juice in almost a year.
So my evening consisted of holding a flashlight over the dinosaur Kindle, then giving up and allowing it to ‘tell me’ the story in that wacko computerized voice that sounds like a kid talking into a fan (yes, this IS something we all did as kids).
Didn’t sleep well at all: worried about the flooding in the yard, the downed trees and branches, and the possibility of the crawl space filling up once again. We have workers waterproofing our home as I write this. And many of the older homes in our area have very limited space beneath them. In our case, 8-12 inches only.
Then my mind kicked in (as always, there’s a story in each situation). If they drained the water, what might they find? Our home is over 140 years old. Coins? Hunks of wood? Old pieces of insulation? Maybe a live groundhog. Our yard is a wild animal refuge. Not by choice.
Can’t you picture it? A guy is in a white suit (why on earth do they choose white when going under an old home like ours?) crawls under and comes out screaming. You can’t make out the words, only that he’s whiter than some of the hail had been, and his eyes are the size of last night’s salad plates.
He starts blubbering, rambling, crying. I mean, this guy’s scared!
Eventually, he convinces his boss to crawl under. Boss man comes out two minutes later with a bone. A human bone. Eventually, an entire skeleton.
Yeah, I know. I find a suspense novel in every single thing that happens.
How about you? What do you do when the power goes out? Do you think up a new novel?