Do You Love to Read?

I have written before how my mother loved to read, so it was no wonder that I followed in her footsteps. Later, as an elementary school teacher, I hope I instilled a love for reading in my students. (My favorite part of the day was reading aloud to my students for twenty precious minutes after lunch recess).

In those days, we used a program called the Writing Road to Reading. The basic idea being that reading and writing go hand-in-hand. The phonics-based total language program, is still taught in many classrooms throughout the U.S. today.

Romalda Spalding believed that the immediate incorporation of spelling and handwriting with phonics instruction reinforced all the skills.  Students create and add to notebooks everything they learn.

Children learn to put sounds together, form meaningful words, write meaningful sentences, and develop their creative minds. Through it, children learn to enjoy the great works of children’s literature.

I wasn’t taught to read this way myself (I taught myself to read before I entered first grade). However, when I began to teach both regular and remedial classes using this method, something inside me clicked and “filled in the gaps” in my learning.

I’d always loved reading, but now as a teacher, my passion for reading exploded. I began reading children’s books and worked my way “up.”

I am guessing that readers of this blog are either avid readers, writers, or both. I would love for you to share how your love for reading/writing began. I will reprint your stories in this blog in the near future.

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Plot Outline and Synopsis

Writers are said to be either plotters or pantsers. Meaning either that they plan out the chapters in their stories ahead of writing, or they write by the seat of their pants—with little or no advance planning.

If you are a plotter, knowing about using a plot outline is essential. A plot outline is a thorough summary including the basic plot twists in each chapter. It is written before you write your book and is used to guide your writing to completion. It is much longer than your synopsis will be.

Both plotters and pantsers will need to write a synopsis which summarizes without giving away all of the details of the plot. It is written after you finish writing your manuscript. In it, be sure to include what is unique about your story and/or characters. 

Remember, the synopsis will be used to pitch your story to agents and publishers. Use your plot outline to get you to a satisfying end.

Summary vs. Synopsis

The terms summary and synopsis are frequently used interchangeably. But are there differences between the two?

It seems there is a slight difference and which you decide to write will depend upon who you are sending it to and your ultimate reason for writing one.

A synopsis is a short (and concise) description of a book, while a summary is a lengthier condensed version. While the summary focuses on what happened, the main ideas, and facts, the synopsis is more subjective and reveals the underlying themes, meaning, and so on.

The goal of a synopsis is to help the reader or agent to decide if they want to read the full book. And, in the case of an agent, to determine if they want to pursue representation.

There are times when you’ll be asked to write both of these, so it’s a good idea to look at examples and/or find books which delve into the writing of each.

Thank You

I spent some time this week writing Thank You cards for my neighborhood friends. We’d decided to have a Thanksgiving Tea and shower each other with appreciation. So, I put some thought into the exact reasons each friend was a unique blessing in my life.

The Tea was a special time together and the cards can be read again and again throughout the year, having impact over the months ahead. Encouragement for those facing difficulties and appreciation for each one playing an important part of my life.

I want each of you to know, also, that I appreciate the fact that you read my blogs. Sending in comments, or “LIKES” makes me aware of your presence and encourages me throughout my writing journey. 

I’m thankful for each of you!

The Value of Writing for an Anthology

Chicken Soup for the Soul books are just one example of a collection, or anthology. Even authors who have published ‘stand-alone’ books often write for anthologies, too.

Why?

For authors, publishing in an anthology offers a diverse and larger audience than having all their stories in one book. 

And~

An anthology, where several authors write on the same theme, offers readers a variety of perspectives and styles.

For myself, I wrote in two short story collections last year:  Desert Tapestry and Christmas Tapestry. Then just last week, I published in a Novella collection, Journeys of Forgiveness. 

As we are beginning our sales and marketing, I see that splitting the costs four ways, instead of bearing the costs alone, is another great reason to write in collections—at least part of the time.

Pricing Your Book

A novella collection that I co-authored with three other authors is soon to be published. On top of the many decisions we have had to face together, one of the final ones in that of pricing.

So, I thought I’d let you in on what I have found out when doing a little online research.

When pricing books on AMAZON, you need to:

  • Check out prices of books in your genre by successful authors.
  • Stay in the range of $2.99-5.99 for the most sales.
  • Be sure your book is quality—professional in writing, editing, cover design, etc.  (Be objective about this!)
  • Be sure your book brings value to readers—meaning information, entertainment, humor, encouragement, etc.
  • Offer both books and e-books. Readers come in both types, you know.
  • When possible, offer free e-books or countdown deals on both paperbacks and e-books.
  • Adjust your price points occasionally to find that “sweet spot.”
  • Remember: the more copies you sell (no matter what the price) the more awareness you’ll get from readers!

When Being Distracted Is A Good Thing

For years, I’ve been preaching against getting distracted while writing.

However, if you are like me, you can get lost in your story and find yourself sitting in your office chair for hours before you move around. That’s not good for your back, neck, shoulders, weight—even your mind.

I tried setting a timer at intervals, but I just kept resetting it, rationalizing that I was at an important juncture and needed just a few more minutes…

Those minutes turned into hours and I found I was no better off than before!

That ding of the timer needed a call to action. And I found what I needed when I paired it with a purpose.

So now I use doing the laundry to get me out of my seat—hearing that the washer is done and clothes need to be put in the dryer, then the buzz of the dryer to coax me into removing them so another load can go in, and so on.

Of course that only takes care of one day of the week. For my other writing days, I write a list of tasks unrelated to writing next to my computer and set the timer at the desired interval. I find that being able to cross each item off my list with my favorite turquoise marker is all the reinforcement I need.

Some of the “tasks” might be “walk around the block”, “take a bathroom break,” or “call to make an appointment,” and so on. The point is not what one does, but just to get moving.

What do you do to get yourself away from your computer throughout the day???

Only One Rule?

I have just returned home from an amazing Christian Writing Conference in Tempe, Arizona.

If you’re a conference goer, you know they schedule guest speakers who inform and motivate. Everyone needs a “shot in the arm” now and then!

Writers are constantly barraged with rules and they can be tough to learn. And the rules keep changing.

That’s part of the appeal of writing conferences—to learn new techniques and make connections with other authors. Helping each other muddle through is key.

At the end of conferences, there is usually time to wrap things up, evaluate, and do pre-planning for the following year.

In today’s wrap up, J. Tronstad said something memorable—something everyone is likely to remember for a long time. I truly do not know if this statement is “original” to her or if she was quoting someone else. But I do know it got a lot of laughter and head nodding. 

So, here you go. Something to brighten your day: ”There’s only one rule to writing. Unfortunately, no one knows what it is.”

Dig In!

Tammy’s new boyfriend is a researcher. Every time we have lunch together, Tammy is excited to tell me something new she has learned from Jason. A lot of this new information has been useful in her job as a freelance writer for a well-known magazine.

I’m not going to tell you that my knowledge is at all comparable to Jason’s, but I have been writing this blog once a week for six years. That means that more than three hundred blogs are in my archives. All are easily accessible on my website.

I have written on numerous topics dealing with writing: some informational, others meant to encourage beginners. I hope they have been interesting and helpful to all readers.

I invite you to poke around my website to see if there is something useful to you. I love to get mail, so certainly write with questions and/or comments. I have experienced quite a number of new followers, lately. If that is because what I’ve said is helpful, then I am truly humbled.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

In the past two weeks, I have been getting Junk emails advertising—actually guaranteeing—40+ reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. The correspondence says they are fully compliant with Amazon’s rules and regulations.

Why the influx of these so-called review businesses? How much do they cost? Do they deliver what they promise? Do they really “comply”?

Well, the jury is still out on that one because I’m not sure I want to get caught up in something that just might be a scam.

If you have tried one of these. I’d be interested to hear about your experience.

Generally speaking though, I would make these few remarks:

It’s a waste of money to pay for a trade book review if you only intend to sell your book on Amazon. You will sell more books by generating more five-star reader book reviews.

For myself, I usually read short and to the point reader reviews, rather than lengthy professional ones. Those reviews mention things like character, plot, theme (which I am interested in as a reader) and less about writing style, editing, and so on.

And, remember, paying for a review is no guarantee that it will be any more positive than reader reviews.

Here’s a plan for finding those reviews which will be of most benefit:

*Go to Amazon and find several books that might be direct competitors of yours.

*Look at their category on Amazon.

*Find the bestsellers in each category.

*Read their reviews and see what review sources are listed.

*You may find some free blogger reviews and/or some free niche publication reviews.

Like I said, I am curious about the “new” paid reviews advertised out there recently. Please write in and share your thoughts.