Domain Names

 

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I’m always one to pass along what I’ve learned, so here is a little tidbit from a guest speaker (Liz Johnson) I heard, yesterday. It is one I am going to try out this week.

Liz stressed the importance of having a website domain name that ends with author, writer, books, or something else that is related to writing.

I had thought about doing this before, but I wasn’t wanting to go through the hassle of having to notify everyone of the change, reprinting my business cards, etc.

However, she said you buy the “new” domain name and then it is linked to your previous domain name so that no matter which one is clicked on, it gets to the right place.

So, my website address is: www.brendapoulos.org. When I purchase  www.brendapoulosbooks.org, or www.brendapoulosauthor.org,  none of my followers will notice the difference. New friends, however, will have an easier time finding me. 

So, if your website address doesn’t end this way, or if you don’t have a domain name, yet, consider a simple addition to make yourself more accessible.

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A Bouquet of Ideas

 

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I have a long list of book titles on my computer—ones I have created and dream of writing. I have a folder chocked full of appealing pictures… ideas for future book covers. I have—well, you get the picture.

I have alphabetized them, categorized them—even ranked them. I have also written a beginning paragraph to go with many of them so I won’t forget the meaning behind each title/and or cover.

It may be just another useless exercise, or they may end up serving a future purpose. It’s something I enjoy doing and, it might turn out to be of even more value to me than watching old sitcoms. 

Whether you are looking online for cover ideas, intriguing fonts, or interesting trivia, do some planning up front. Find a few jewels—pearls, my mother would say—and store them away for future reference.

That’s why I made several folders for just this purpose. I keep them on my desk top where I have easy access. Then, when something fascinating pops up, I simply have to drag and drop it into the appropriate folder. There it is, preserved for just that perfect occasion when I need it.

No more scrambling around at the last minute. No more anxiousness when things aren’t coming together as I’d hoped.

I have lists of ideas from as long as ten years ago. I keep all of them because there just may be a few that I find useful someday in the future. They are little seeds. Some of them may never poke their heads above the soil. Others may grow into beautiful flowers.

I think a bouquet would be lovely.

 

Just What You’ve Been Looking For!

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Last fall, I wrote about two editing programs I was considering purchasing.

I ended up with Pro Writing Aid.

Now that I have completed my current book, I am using this program to clean everything up before my Beta Readers receive a copy AND before any further revisions are made PRIOR to sending it to my editor.  (That’s right. It shouldn’t take the place of a real, live editor).

All of this is done BEFORE publishing, but you needn’t wait until all of your chapters are written, as I did. Instead, you can use one of the APPS while you are creating, one chapter at a time.

Pro Writing Aid can do a lot for a writer who wants their work to be the best possible. However, to use every feature is laborious and very time consuming.

I suggest you look at this program online and see what features you might want—based on your weaknesses and/or your pet-peeves.

Here’s what I am doing: I copy one chapter at a time into the program. Then, I hit the STYLE button. In a few seconds, a report with suggestions for improvement is generated. It is then my job to read and accept or reject each one. (Do this very carefully, as not every one will make sense for you to use. I find I agree with about 80%)

After STYLE (which includes adverbs, passive verbs, ing starts, etc.), I use GRAMMAR and REPEATED WORDS. (You’ll be surprised at how many you have unknowingly repeated. It blew my mind. This will require a lot of rewriting to get rid of them. However, it is worth it.) 

At the end, I use ECHOES, which shows phrases that are repeated. (For example, I used “Valley of the Sun” a few times. You might not want to repeat a phrase like, “the clouds drifted across the moon”, and so on.) I don’t want to describe things using the same words, over and over again, so I use my thesaurus and tackle each one, separately.

There are several more buttons on the program. I have not used, yet.

I  used my pet peeves (repetitious words and passive verbs) to guide my choices. Just the four reports that I ran—and the time it took to make the changes—took me two hours per every ten double-spaced pages.

You can use as much, or as little, help from this self-editing program as you want. 

You can be as precise as you’d like.

You can spend as much time as you feel you need to.

And, of course, you don’t have to use one of these programs (there are several other good ones) at all. However, I think you owe it to yourself to get the free trial offer and play around with it a bit.

You may find it’s just what you have been looking for!

A “Taxing” Time of Year

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It’s tax time.

The first 3 1/2 months of each year.

In January, I sulk and complain at the very thought of it.

In February, I prepare myself mentally.

In March, I gather receipts, statements, invoices… everything I need.

In early April, I get down to business.

The problem is, I always seem to be writing the last chapters of a book, editing, selecting a cover—in the very heart of Tax Season!!!

That makes it an overwhelming time of year for me—year after year!

It takes me roughly one year to write a book, from planning to printing and everything in between. So, February and March are always “crunch time.”

I’ve come to realize that the only way I can separate tax time and launch time is for me to alter my writing schedule.

So, this is the last year I will publish a book in the spring. 

From now on, I am going to work on some other writing projects for a couple of months and begin writing in earnest June 1. That way, I will change publication dates to the middle of the year.

I have a friend who has moved her writing space to the opposite end of the house to avoid family conflicts. Another friend, tired of computer problems, recently bought a new one. She’s busy loading a couple of new writing programs on it. I hope the changes they are making work for them.

Adjustments are a part of life.

The point is, we shouldn’t keep on living with the same circumstances that cause us angst. Only by changing something will we Improve our situation.

Don’t put it off. 

My father always said of change, “It will turn out great. You’ll wonder why you waited so long.”

So, if something is bugging you— keeping things from running smoothly—don’t procrastinate.

Make the necessary adjustments.

You, too, will say, “I wonder why I waited so long?”

How Long Does it Take to Break “Good” Habits?

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Experts tell us that it takes more than 2 months before a new habit becomes automatic.

Sixty-six days is the length of time most experts say that it takes for an old “bad” habit to be replaced by a new “good/better” one.

But, how long does it take for a good habit to be replaced by a “not-so-good” pattern of behavior?

Say a person is in the habit of exercising daily. If they aren’t able to exercise for some reason for a few weeks, (perhaps for those same 66 days) does the good habit break?

I couldn’t find any research on this, but if we use common sense we may conclude that if people stop “practicing” good habits, they will fall by the wayside. Then, in the future, if a person decides they want to start exercising the good habit again, it will most likely need to be reformed. It might not take as long as it did, initially, to form it, or it just may–  because more than likely, a “bad” habit has taken the “good” habit’s place…

So, here is my plug for writing every day:

Writing is a skill that requires practice.

Habits are formed by repetitive practice.

When practice is abandoned, habits break.

When one doesn’t write daily, the writing habit is broken.

When the writing habit is broken, skills just aren’t what they used to be.

And, those writers will find themselves in dire need of skill development in order to write as well as they did before—when they were writing on a daily basis.

It requires effort to form good habits.

And, those good habits can easily be broken by lack of consistent effort.

It’s as simple as that.

 

Read Your Reviews

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Do you ever feel like quitting?

Quitting writing, that is.

Do you ever say to yourself, “Who am I kidding? My readers wouldn’t miss me.”

Do you ever play the mind game in which you list all the things you could be doing, if you didn’t write?

Sports, movies, television, exercise, shopping, art, camping, travel, crafts, learning a second language, volunteering …

Last week, I had a few moments where I thought about the “what-ifs” in my own life.

That’s when I read my book reviews on Amazon. An hour later, in tears, I thanked God for my readers. What beautiful and encouraging things they had shared about how my books had touched their hearts … changed their lives.

I was overwhelmed as I read their comments, recalling that the very reason I write was summed up in their remarks.

I felt humbled, energized, and encouraged.

I am thankful and grateful for the opportunity to do what I love to do and have such a profound effect on lives.

How could I possibly quit when I have so much more to say? So many more readers to challenge, comfort, offer hope … 

So, when the days of doubt come, give yourself a shot in the arm. 

Jump on Amazon and read your book reviews.

 

Head-hopping

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I love to get freebies, don’t you?

Over the past few weeks, I have downloaded several free fiction books.

Some were absolute jewels. Others … well …

That’s the way it goes in the world of “free.”

One of the books contained a LOT of head-hopping. Although the story and characters were enjoyable (that’s why I kept reading) the intermingled flow of dialogue, description, and emotion from various characters within the same paragraph made the story difficult to follow.

A reader shouldn’t have to constantly wonder who is speaking and whose thoughts are being revealed. Avoiding head-hopping is essential for writers—and it is so easy to do: 

  1. In each scene, establish your point-of-view character. Although other characters can be in the scene, can show action, and speak dialogue, only the POV character can share their thoughts and perspective. 
  1. Each paragraph should have only one character. When you want to change characters, simply start a new paragraph.
  1. When you want to change POV characters, begin a new scene.

Within the same paragraph (even within the same scene) don’t allow yourself to hop back and forth from one character’s thoughts and perspective to another’s. 

If you confuse your reading audience in this way, even the most interesting characters and enjoyable dialogue may not be enough to keep them reading to THE END.