D.I.Y. for Writers

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For the past five years, the subject matter for my blogs has come from my own “need-to-know” at the time.

When I required information on “show, don’t tell” I shared what I discovered.

The same with point-of-view, internal thoughts, conversation, verb choice, book cover creation, and so on.

They say you learn best by teaching someone else. So, don’t forget to share what you learn with your fellow writers.

You can find my previously-written blogs on all kinds of subjects by going to www.brendapoulosauthor.org and selecting ARCHIVES. 

Some blog posts are more technical. Others are meant for encouragement. I hope you find something helpful by scrolling through the listings.

Just a little tidbit of information today for those of you self-publishing. 

I have always had my covers designed and have also paid for formatting on the Kindle and paperback. However, as I loaded my latest book, Tug of War, onto the Amazon site last week, I noticed that there is both a formatting tool and a Cover Creator that are absolutely FREE. 

If you are comfortable on the computer and have the time to devote to doing these two aspects of publishing yourself, it is a great way to save money. I have writer friends that have turned out some really great looking books.

Happy Writing!

Brenda

 

Linking

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NETWORKING. LINKING. MAKING CONNECTIONS.

That’s the name of the game.

Five years ago, I was told I needed to blog. 

Give content. Encourage.

I got in the habit of writing once a week on each of my websites, www.brendapoulosauthor.org and www.spiritualsnippets.com

That is a lot of writing. I learned to get as much “mileage” as I could from everything I wrote.

One simple way was linking my websites with Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Every time I write on one of my blogs, the content automatically goes to these three other social media avenues.

All I had to do was set and forget.

Authors have more and more to think about nowadays. As many things as we can set up like this, the easier we make it on ourselves.

That means more time for doing what we love—

Writing!

Writing’s “New Normal”

 

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In this unprecedented time, there have been a lot of suggestions on newscasts as to how we can keep our emotional health in tact by sticking to a schedule of work/play at home.

Our writing time is no different.

Keeping to our normal routine as much as possible will do wonders for our outlook, as well as keeping our skills honed.

On the other side of things, we can improve our skills by spending some of our “free” time reading, doing research for our stories, and taking online writing classes.

So, I guess the name of the game is to improve what we can, while at the same time making sure to keep essential skills in place.

Finally, connect with author friends and others on the internet who are writing as well. It’s a great time for sharing ideas! Using Google Docs, Zoom, and other popular programs will still allow your groups to function until things get back to “normal.”

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!!!