For Auld Lang Syne

 

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Many of us sang poet Robert Burns’ song “Auld Lang Syne” on January first.

Almost no one, however, remembers that those famous words mean “days gone by.” (I looked it up).

A friend tells me that she doesn’t like to read books that require her to keep a dictionary nearby so she can look up unfamiliar words.

She likes to read fiction for pleasure.

I found out that only half of Americans read at an Eighth Grade reading level.

And get this, when reading for fun and relaxation, people prefer to read TWO GRADE LEVELS BELOW what they are capable of reading.

You may want to keep this fact in mind if you are beginning to write a new book this year. In fact, I would suggest that before you publish the one you are currently writing, you pare down any difficult vocabulary.

Make your book a pleasurable read!

 

Write on Christmas Day

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For those of you who feel strongly that you should write every day of the year, may I suggest the following alternatives on Christmas Day?

  • Don’t just sign your name on Christmas cards. Instead, write a newsletter including highlights from the past year, or consider at least writing a short, personalized paragraph at the bottom of each card.
  • Write a blog post.
  • Write a letter or email to someone you have lost contact with over the years.
  • Write affirmations to be share around the dinner table on Christmas Day.
  • Take a small gift to your neighbors and include a short note.
  • Practice your skills by writing a short story about an especially  meaningful Christmas in the past, someone who has been instrumental in your life this year, or plans for the year ahead.
  • Write a love letter to that special someone in your life.
  • Write out some of your favorite recipes, tie them with ribbon, and give them as a gift, door prize, or …

You get the idea. There are many alternatives to actually working on your book on Christmas Day, so use your writing to connect with those you love.

Merry Christmas to each of you. May the New Year be filled with endless possibilities…

 

That’s What it Sounds Like

**This is a requested reprint from 4-14-19.
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I’m in editing mode this week. Specifically, I am unsure about the use of italics.

Yes, I understand that they are used to denote titles, and foreign words. They are also used for book titles, poems, plays, television shows, musical compositions, newspapers, radio podcasts, names of ships, and airplanes.

The list goes on and on (See the 7th edition of the MLA handbook for more of the above.)

However, here, I want to share about the three most common uses of italics by authors.

The first is to show emphasis for readers. For example, “She dated five men at the same time.” If you italicize the word “five,” it helps to emphasize the fact that you feel this is extraordinary and you don’t want your reader to miss it. Thus, the sentence would read, “She dated five men at the same time.”

The second is to set apart a character’s inner thoughts and/or  dreams. This avoids confusion for readers by signaling that those words were not spoken out loud. Longer italicized portions of text show the reader that the character is dreaming. This is important because otherwise they may think that those actions are taking place in the here and now.

Finally, I come to the rule that has been confusing me as I give my own manuscript a final pass. That is, should sounds be italicized?

I did some research and I found the answer to be very simple:

The name of a sound does not get italicized, but the sound itself does.

Here is an example:  The dog growled. (I named the sound, so no italics.) vs. “Grrr” (this is the actual sound, so it should be italicized).

Simple?

That’s what it sounds like to me.

 

Christmas Letter

 

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On my “To-Do” list this week, is writing my yearly Christmas letter to friends and family. I am making a list of trips, health updates, and accomplishments I’d like to include.

That got me to thinking about YOU and what I’d like to share as the Christmas season fast approaches.

First of all, I’d like you to know how much I appreciate your encouragement and support by reading/commenting on my blogs each week. I hope they have been both helpful and encouraging to you as we walk this “writing road” together.

To catch you up on what I am doing, currently, I can say that my Beta Readers are doing their work right now, critiquing Simon Says. I look forward to hearing from them over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, I am busy writing back cover copy, revising my “About the Author” page, looking at a myriad possibilities for the front cover, and jotting down ideas for the second book in the series.

Finally, I am finishing up the manuscript for my second interactive Alzheimer’s book, I Remember Bible Stories,” as well as interviewing illustrators.

On a more personal level, I continue to be more involved in my parents’ lives at their care center and am taking on some of my mother’s previous roles, such as the big family gathering on Christmas Day. I am fortunate to live near a Honey Baked Ham store, as I am planning the meal around a nice spiral-cut ham.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years as you move ahead toward both your personal and writing goals.

Brenda

A Journey Worth Taking

 

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Diana Nyad is an American long-distance swimmer. In 2013, she became the first person confirmed to swim from Cuba to Florida without the aid of a shark cage.

This was her fifth attempt to do so.

Did you know that Diana is also an author? Her book, Find A Way, has hundreds of insights into the life of this remarkable woman. Well worth reading.

In a recent interview she was asked how she kept pursuing her goal in the face of four defeats. She replied that she had always had the attitude that, “Even if we never make it, it’s still a journey worth taking.”

That’s how I view the writing journey.

Even if I never

sell a lot of books,

hit the best-seller’s list,

become particularly well-known,

I consider that the writing journey is definitely worth taking.

What about you?

How Much Is A Facebook “Like” Worth?

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Although you can find articles on the Internet which place the value of a single Facebook Like at between $8-12, others say each like is worth an average of $174.

Things like your budget, resources, and objectives determine just how much a “LIKE” is worth to you.

You may also want to consider that just because someone “Liked” your page doesn’t mean they will automatically like all of your posts or purchase your books.

Experts say that a page “Like” should be viewed as a potential client. In fact, some say that until a visitor to your page purchases a book, they should be considered to have a worth of “zero.”

I think, however, it is more useful (and realistic) for us to consider just how valuable the Facebook Community is to a writer as a whole.

Now, I happen to believe that someone is valuable if they engage in my posts, share content, and interact with me on one of my websites or subscribe to my emails.

Therefore, I want to make them happy. I want them to feel appreciated. I target my marketing to appeal to them.

I furnish them with information, share their opinions, offer them free and/or discounted deals, and of course, I visit their Facebook pages and “Like” them!

Even though we may never meet in person, Facebook Friendships are reciprocal relationships and we need to view them as such.

The value of a friendship?

Priceless.

Reflect, Then Rise Above!

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So, here we are.

Another year draws to a close. Time to reflect.

Have we done all we set out to do this year?

We can use this time to beat ourselves up about not accomplishing as much as we’d wanted to, I suppose.  But, what good is that going to do?

Not one of us knows what the next day will bring.

So, let’s encourage one another to

go further,

climb higher,

rise above.

Happy New Year!!!