From story to story, from novel to novel, protagonists vary widely in psychological make-up, goals and dreams, in the types of conflicts they face and in the way they resolve these conflicts. Among all these differences, compelling characters may have some common qualities as well.
Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of Pay It Forward and 24 other novels, believes compelling protagonists share two chief traits. “I think he or she needs to be someone with a strong will to move through adversity, and someone readers can relate to,” she says, adding that relatable characters also require vulnerability. “We’re all vulnerable on the inside, so our hearts go out to anyone enduring struggles we understand.”
Authors are often told that readers must be able to root for their characters, yet Hyde believes that protagonists don’t necessarily have to be likable or sympathetic. They do need to be human, or readers won’t be able to relate to them. To accomplish that, says Hyde, you have to get inside your character’s head, and thats when the “humanity will begin to shine through.”
Here’s how Ishmael Reed gets inside of Paul Blessings, a character in his 10th novel, Juice!
I’m a survivor all right. After generations of ancestors working in the fields, factories, cleaning homes and offices, my generation had a chance to go to school, read books, attend plays, and do desk work just like W.E. B. wanted it. Like an old time Talented Tenther, I even had a season ticket to the opera. Only falling asleep once. During Wagners’s Die Meistersinger, I think it was the droning, lumbering trombone score that did it. Besides, like millions of my contemporaries, I’m fond of gazing and staring. This “sedentary” lifestyle got me in trouble with glucose, which one geneticist has said we should avoid more than the snakes we were originally programmed to fear. A bakery display of cake, muffins, and cookies is like a nest of cobras to me. They should invent a candy bar for diabetics called the Grim Reaper. How did I know that sugar had a dark side.
Blessings comes fully alive for readers with his open, frank self-revelation: regarding his roots, his generation’s opportunities, his drifting off during the Wagner opera, his sedentary style and his health crisis. Wryly, Reed situates diabetes in a framework that surprises us by an utterly bizarre comparison: snakes and sugar. We want to learn more about this intriguing character.
Of course, it’s one thing to know what a compelling protagonist and still another to create one. Should you begin with notes for a fully fleshed out character, or should you discover your protagonist as you write. Virgil Suarez, author of several novels and short story collection, plans out his protagonist in advance of writing. “I love to create an entire biography and history for a character,” he says, even though only 10 percent of what I imagine about a character actually makes it into the story or chapter.”
While Suarez does a lot of initial planning, much of his characterization happens as he writes. Intutive discovery of character may be key to solid character development. Instead of engineering or controlling characters, let their own voices take action. “I’m on the lookout for a fictinal person with a good story to tell me,” says Hyde. “After I make that connection, it feels more like a process of sitting back and listening.” This act of listening worked well fro Grissom, who says her two first-person narrators spoke clearly to her. “I wrote down what they were saying.” She had to edit later, but through attentive listening, she came to know her characters well.
Excerpt from Returning To The Elements by Jack Smith
Have you ever run up to a friend and said, “I have the most amazing story to tell you. Nothing just happened!” Probably not and yet there are stories all the time in which nothing happens. A mother sits at home with her kids and thinks about how difficult her life is. A man goes to work and things his job is boring. A kid thinks about how much homework he has. I’m sure we’ve all read variations of these stories countless times. These are all potentially great stories, but they need to be jumpstarted. They need to have a plot. Something has to happen.
Let’s go back to that harassed mother at home with her kids. Her name is Carrie. What could happen that would set a story in motion for her? What if Carrie gets an email from a friend inviting her to meet for tea? Carrie would love to meet her. In fact, she’s desperate to get our of the house and have a normal conversation. But her toddlers are going through a difficult stage, and the babysitter just quit, and her mother has an important business meeting and can’t cancel it to help out Carrie.
Now we’ve got Carrie in motion. We’ve made her want something. To get out of the house. We’ve given her an obstacle. Motherhood. She’s going to have to figure out a way to get a babysitter, or bundle those toddlers out of the house, or keep them quiet. The story could be funny, tragic or somewhere in between. But something’s going to happen.
Notice, Carrie’s story is about a small thing: meeting for tea. There’s no tornado coming or asteroid about to hit. There’s plenty of drama in everyday life. Just make sure you ask your character what she wants, and then make sure she has to work to get it.
There are eight basic elements to a plot and each of them are explained below.
1. Story Goal 2K+ The first element to include in your plot outline is the Story Goal, which we covered in detail in the previous article, The Key to a Solid Plot: Choosing a Story Goal. To summarize, the plot of any story is a sequence of events that revolve around an attempt to solve a problem or attain a goal. The Story Goal is, generally speaking, what your protagonist wants to achieve or the problem he/she wants to resolve. It is also the goal/problem that involves or affects most, if not all the other characters in the story. It is “what the story is all about. “For instance, let’s say we want to write a story about a 38-year-old female executive who has always put off having a family for the sake of her career and now finds herself lonely and regretting her choices. In this case, we might choose to make the Story Goal for her to find true love before it’s too late. There are many ways we could involve other characters in this goal. For instance, we could give our protagonist …… a mother who wants her to be happier. … friends and colleagues at her company who are also unmarried and lonely (so that her success might inspire them). … a jealous ex-boyfriend who tries to sabotage her love life. … an elderly, lonely spinster of an aunt who doesn’t want the protagonist to make the same mistake she did. … a happy young family who give her an example of what she has missed…. a friend who married and divorced, and is now down on marriage. (Forcing the protagonist to work out whether her friend’s experience really applies to her – or whether it was just a case of choosing the wrong partner, or bad luck.) We could even make the company where the protagonist works in danger of failing because it doesn’t appreciate the importance of family. It could be losing good employees to other companies that do. In other words, after we have chosen a Story Goal, we will build a world around our protagonist that includes many perspectives on the problem and makes the goal important to everyone in that world. That’s why choosing the Story Goal is the most important first step in building a plot outline. If you haven’t chosen a goal for your novel yet, do so now. Make a list of potential goals that fits the idea you are working on. Then choose one goal to base your plot outline on.
2. Consequence Once you have decided on a Story Goal, your next step is to ask yourself, “What disaster will happen if the goal is not achieved? What is my protagonist afraid will happen if he/she doesn’t achieve the goal or solve the problem?”The answer to these questions is the Consequence of the story. The Consequence is the negative situation or event that will result if the Goal is not achieved. Avoiding the Consequence justifies the effort required in pursuing the Story Goal, both to the characters in your novel and the reader, and that makes it an important part of your plot outline. The combination of goal and consequence creates the main dramatic tension in your plot. It’s a carrot and stick approach that makes the plot meaningful. In some stories, the protagonist may begin by deciding to resolve a problem or pursue a goal. Later, that goal becomes more meaningful when he discovers that a terrible consequence will occur if he fails. Other times, the protagonist may start off threatened by a terrible event, which thus motivates him/her to find way to avoid it.As Melanie Anne Phillips points out, in some stories the consequence seems to be in effect when the story opens. Perhaps the evil despot is already on the throne and the Story Goal is to depose him. In that case, the consequence, if the protagonist fails, is that things will stay the way they are.In our novel plot about the female executive, we’ve already come up with one possible Consequence – that she could end up like her spinster aunt. We could make the Consequence worse (perhaps the aunt dies of starvation because she is feeble and has no immediate family looking after her). Or we could create a different Consequence. Her employer may go bankrupt unless it becomes more family-friendly. Write a list of possible Consequences you could have in your plot outline. Then choose one to be the counterpoint to your chosen Story Goal.
3. Requirements The third element of your plot outline, Requirements, describes what must be accomplished in order to achieve the goal. You can think of this as a checklist of one or more events. As the Requirements are met in the course of the novel, the reader will feel the characters are getting closer to the attainment of the goal. Requirements create a state of excited anticipation in the reader’s mind, as he looks forward to the protagonist’s success. What could the Requirements be in our executive story? Well, if the goal is for our protagonist to find true love, perhaps she will need to join a singles club or dating service so she can meet single men. Perhaps she will need to take a holiday or leave of absence from her job. Ask yourself what event(s) might need to happen for the goal in your novel to be achieved. List as many possibilities as you can think of. To keep things simple for the moment, just choose one requirement for now to include in your plot outline.
4. Forewarnings are the counterpart to requirements. While requirements show that the story is progressing towards the achievement of the goal, forewarnings are events that show the consequence is getting closer. Forewarnings make the reader anxious that the consequence will occur before the protagonist can succeed.In the plot outline for our story, events that could constitute Forewarnings might be…the company loses one of its key employees to another firm that was more family-friendly.the protagonist has a series of bad dates that make it seem like she will never find the right guy.the protagonist meets a woman at a singles club who tells her that at their age all the good men are already married.one of the protagonist’s friends goes through a messy divorce, showing that marriage may not be the source of happiness it’s purported to be.While the Story Goal and Consequences create dramatic tension, Requirements and Forewarnings take the reader through an emotional roller coaster that oscillates between hope and fear. There will be places in the plot where it seems the protagonist is making progress, and others where it seems that everything is going wrong. Structure these well, and you will keep your reader turning pages non-stop. For example, here’s how our plot outline might look so far …”A female executive in her late 30s has been married to her job. But she has a wake-up call when her elderly, spinster aunt dies alone and neglected (consequence). The executive decides that she needs to have a family before she suffers the same fate (goal). In order to do this, she hires a dating service and arranges to go on several dates (requirements). But each date ends in disaster (forewarnings).” As you can see, using just these four elements, a story plot is starting to emerge that will take the reader on a series of emotional twists and turns. And we’re only halfway through our 8 plot elements! (Of course, we started with the four most important ones.) Notice too that these elements come in pairs that balance each other. This is an important secret for creating tension and momentum in your plot.Before moving on to the remaining elements, list some possible events that could serve as Forewarnings in your story. For now, just choose one. See if you can create a brief plot outline like the example above using just the first four elements.
5. Costs Generally speaking, good plots are about problems that mean a lot to the characters. If a problem is trivial, then neither the protagonist nor the reader has a reason to get worked up about it. You want your readers to get worked up about your novel. So you must give your protagonist a goal that matters.One sign that a problem or goal matters to the protagonist is that he/she is willing to make sacrifices or suffer pain in order to achieve it. Such sacrifices are called Costs. Classic examples of Costs include the hard-boiled detective who gets beaten up at some point in his investigation, or the heroic tales in which the hero must suffer pain or injury or give up a cherished possession to reach his goal. However, Costs can come in many other ways. Protagonists can be asked to give up their pride, self-respect, money, security, an attitude, an idealized memory, the life of a friend, or anything else they hold dear. If you make the costs steep and illustrate how hard the sacrifice is for the protagonist, the reader will feel that the protagonist deserves to achieve the goal. In the case of our female executive, perhaps she must give up a promotion she has worked hard for because it would require her to travel so much that she would have no chance of settling down and raising a family.Make a list of possible Costs your protagonist might be forced to endure in order to achieve the Story Goal. Again, just choose one idea to include in your plot outline for now.
6. Dividends The element that balances Costs in your plot outline is Dividends. Dividends are rewards that characters receive along the journey towards the Story Goal. Unlike Requirements, Dividends are not necessary for the goal to be achieved. They may be unrelated to the goal entirely. But they are something that would never have occurred if the characters hadn’t made the effort to achieve the goal.In the case of our executive, perhaps her efforts to meet men give her an idea for creating a business of her own – a kind of executive dating service, for instance, that will lead her to a happier career. Or perhaps the quest for love and family forces her to become more compassionate towards her co-workers when their family responsibilities interfere with work. List possible ways to reward your characters and choose one that feels appropriate for your plot outline. Then move on to our final pair of elements.
7. Prerequisites Prerequisites are events that must happen in order for the Requirements to happen. They are an added layer of challenges to your plot outline. Like Requirements, as Prerequisites are met, the reader feels progress is being made towards the goal. For instance, in order to free the Princess, the hero must recovery the key from its hiding place, but first (Prerequisite) he must defeat the dragon guarding it. In order to win the maiden’s hand, the gallant suitor must show he would not risk losing her for anything. But before he has a chance to do that, he must show he is willing to risk everything to win her (Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice).If the Requirement for our novel about the executive is that she must go out on several dates, perhaps the Prerequisite is that she must sign up at a dating service, buy a new wardrobe, or get a make-over. Take a look at your chosen Requirement and make a list of possible Prerequisites that must be accomplished before the requirement can be met. Choose one.
8. Preconditions The last element to balance your plot outline, Preconditions, is a junior version of Forewarnings. Preconditions are small impediments in the plot. They are stipulations laid down by certain characters that make it more difficult for the Story Goal to be achieved.A classic example is Pride and Prejudice in which Elizabeth’s quest for happiness is made more difficult by the terms of her grandfather’s will, which state that the family property can only be inherited by males. This means that, upon her father’s death, Elizabeth and her sisters will be penniless unless they find good husbands first.However there are many other ways characters can impose conditions that impede the attainment of the Story Goal. They can make their help conditional on favours, insist on arduous rules, or negotiate tough terms.For instance, perhaps the company where our female executive works has a rule that executives must attend meetings very early in the day – say 6AM on Saturdays. This rule makes it very hard for her to go on Friday night dates and be alert in the meetings. Or perhaps the singles club she joins has some seemingly unfair rules that cause her problems.You know what to do by now. List possible Preconditions your characters might encounter, and choose one you like. Once you have chosen your eight elements, the next step is to arrange them into a brief plot summary. It doesn’t matter what order you put them in, so long as all eight are included. In fact, most of the elements can be repeated or included in more than one way. For example, here’s how we might put together all eight elements for our executive story together into a one-paragraph plot outline…“A female executive in her late 30s has been married to her job. But she has a wake-up call when her elderly, spinster aunt dies alone and neglected (consequence). The executive decides that she needs to have a family before she suffers the same fate (goal). So she buys a new wardrobe and signs on with a dating service (prerequisites). Her boss offers her a promotion that would involve a lot of travel, but she turns it down, so that she will have time to meet some men (cost). She goes on several dates (requirements). But each one ends in disaster (forewarnings). On top of that, because the agency arranges all her dates for Friday nights, she ends up arriving tired and late for the company’s mandatory 6AM Saturday morning meetings (preconditions). Along the way, however, she starts to realize how the company’s policies are very unfair to people with families or social lives outside work, and she begins to develop compassion for some of her co-workers that leads to improved relationships in the office.
<div style=”font-size: 8px;”>Original by Breen and Strathy</div>
How up are you on the acronyms used by teens or anyone else. I for one am not. I have to usually asked someone that has sent me something, what it means. I came across this posting and decided to share it with my readers because if you have a teen it could be very interesting and helpful facts to know. You might even print this off and keep it handy, especially if you check your child’s texts they are sending.
If you think you are tech savvy all because you know what “LOL” means, let me test your coolness. Any idea what “IWSN” stands for in Internet slang? It’s a declarative statement: I want sex now. If it makes you feel any better, I had no clue, and neither did a number of women I asked about it.
Acronyms are widely popular across the Internet, especially on social media and texting apps, because, in some cases, they offer a shorthand for communication that is meant to be instant.
So “LMK” — let me know — and “WYCM” — will you call me? — are innocent enough.
But the issue, especially for parents, is understanding the slang that could signal some dangerous teen behavior, such as “GNOC,’” which means “get naked on camera.”
And it certainly helps for a parent to know that “PIR” means parent in room, which could mean the teen wants to have a conversation about things that his or her mom and dad might not approve of.
Katie Greer is a national Internet safety expert who has provided Internet and technology safety training to schools, law enforcement agencies and community organizations throughout the country for more than seven years.
She says research shows that a majority of teens believe that their parents are starting to keep tabs on their online and social media lives.
“With that, acronyms can be used by kids to hide certain parts of their conversations from attentive parents,” Greer said. “Acronyms used for this purpose could potentially raise some red flags for parents.”
But parents would drive themselves crazy, she said, if they tried to decode every text, email and post they see their teen sending or receiving.
“I’ve seen some before and it’s like ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ where only the kids hold the true meanings (and most of the time they’re fairly innocuous),” she said.
Still, if parents come across any acronyms they believe could be problematic, they should talk with their kids about them, said Greer.
But how, on earth, is a parent to keep up with all these acronyms, especially since new ones are being introduced every day?
“It’s a lot to keep track of,” Greer said. Parents can always do a Google search if they stumble upon an phrase they aren’t familiar with, but the other option is asking their children, since these phrases can have different meanings for different people.
“Asking kids not only gives you great information, but it shows that you’re paying attention and sparks the conversation around their online behaviors, which is imperative.”
Micky Morrison, a mom of two in Islamorada, Florida, says she finds Internet acronyms “baffling, annoying and hilarious at the same time.”
She’s none too pleased that acronyms like “LOL” and “OMG” are being adopted into conversation, and already told her 12-year-old son — whom she jokingly calls “deprived,” since he does not have a phone yet — that acronym talk is not allowed in her presence.
But the issue really came to a head when her son and his adolescent friends got together and were all “ignoring one another with noses in their phones,” said Morrison, founder of BabyWeightTV.
“I announced my invention of a new acronym: ‘PYFPD.’ Put your freaking phone down.”
But back to the serious issue at hand, below are 28 Internet acronyms, which I learned from Greer and other parents I talked with, as well as from sites such as NoSlang.com and NetLingo.com, and from Cool Mom Tech’s 99 acronyms and phrases that every parent should know.
After you read this list, you’ll likely start looking at your teen’s texts in a whole new way.
IWSN – I want sex now
GNOC – Get naked on camera
NIFOC – Naked in front of computer
PIR – Parent in room
CU46 – See you for sex
53X – Sex
9 – Parent watching
99 – Parent gone
1174′ – Party meeting place
THOT – That hoe over there
CID – Acid (the drug)
Broken – Hungover from alcohol
420 – Marijuana
POS – Parent over shoulder
SUGARPIC – Suggestive or erotic photo
KOTL – Kiss on the lips
(L)MIRL – Let’s meet in real life
PRON – Porn
TDTM – Talk dirty to me
8 – Oral sex
CD9 – Parents around/Code 9
IPN – I’m posting naked
LH6 – Let’s have sex
WTTP – Want to trade pictures?
DOC – Drug of choice
TWD – Texting while driving
GYPO – Get your pants off
KPC- Keeping parents clueless
Reblogged from WHNT.com: posted by Kelly Wallace
I have to start out telling you the inspiration behind this blog. Yesterday I agreed to cross promote my book, “Dobyns Chronicles”, with a gentleman I’ve never met who has written a book called “Alter Ego”. I’ve never cross promoted before so I decided to do some research and make sure I was doing it right. Hence the blog.
The article below doesn’t pertain to book marketing so much but other areas, but it still may give you some ideas on cross promotion.
Here are the links to Tory Allyn’s Book, “Alter Ego.” Take a look at it. Who knows it may be the best gift for someone you know. Have a blessed day, everyone. Shirley
19 Ways to Attract More Customers Through Cross-Promotion
To stand out from their competition in a crowded advertising marketplace, all kinds and sizes of businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies are joining forces to reach their mutual market of “customers” more efficiently. Their cross-promotions include “bundled” offerings, cause marketing, co-branding, coop marketing, and shared space. Cross-promotion has the potential for a big marketing payoff because partners can successfully expand through one another’s customer base. They can gain an inexpensive and credible introduction to more of their kind of customer more effectively than with the traditional “solo” methods of networking, advertising, or PR.
Here are some low-risk and high-opportunity ways to jump-start your first cross-promotion.
1. Print joint promotional messages on your receipts.
2. Offer a reduced price, special service, or convenience if customers buy products from you and your partner.
3. Hang signs or posters promoting one another on your walls, windows, or products.
4. Mention one another’s benefits when you speak at local events or are interviewed by the media.
5. Drop one another’s flyers in shopping bags.
6. Pool mailing lists and send out a joint promotional postcard.
7. Promote your partner’s products during their slow times, and ask them to do the same for you.
8. Share inexpensive ads in local shopping papers or a nonprofit event program.
9. Give a joint interview to local media.
10. Put one another’s promotional messages on Lucite stands on counters or floor stands in waiting areas.
11. Encourage your staff to mention how your partner’s products can be used with yours.
12. Give your partner’s product to your customers when they buy a large quantity of your product, and ask your partner to do the same.
13. Use door hangers, posters, flyers, or postcards to promote special offers for one another’s products.
14. Co-produce an in-store or office event – a demonstration, celebrity appearance, free service, or lecture.
Some More Ways to Cross-Promote to Stand Far Out from the Competition
1. Co-produce special promotions you could not afford by yourself. Hire local community college broadcasting/cable TV students to produce a “how to use” video and/or audio tape that involves your and your partner’s products and services. Show the video on an eye-level TV monitor in your outlets where people have to wait or in the window for 24-hour viewing. Or play the audio-tape portion as background. ***Example: An enterprising advertising agency, local quick-copy printer, and video production house get priceless visibility for cross-promoting with others to co-produce an educational audio/video/book package that prominently displays their company names: “Thirty Ways Smart People Make Their Homes More Safe.” The package is widely displayed and distributed to their partners’ customers: a hardware store, home security company, police department, real estate firm, home contractor, electrician, and school district.
2. Display combined use of partners’ products in your outlet, and ask partners to do the same. ***Example: A “Valentine Love Food” display appeared in all partners’ outlets a month before Valentine’s Day. Partners — a cooking school, kitchenware shop, florist, card shop, restaurant, and supermarket — all displayed the makings for a romantic dinner menu to be served on Valentine’s Day at their partner’s restaurant.
Their displays were created by a local theatre set designer, who designed the current play, for which the customers of the partners’ outlets received a reduced price ticket when they bought the restaurant meal or certain products from the participating partners.
A local newlywed couple who won the partners’ “Valentine Love Food” drawing and the local couple who proved they’ve been married the longest joined the local newspaper’s food critic at the center table for the featured meal, free to them.
3. Have a contest, with the prizes contributed by your partners. For the next contest, roles change, and you contribute your product or service as a prize for a partner’s contest. ***Example: For two weeks, a dry cleaner places tags on all customers’ hangers, containing fashion tips. The tags are numbered tickets for a contest to win gifts from the partners’ clothing stores. When the dry cleaner’s customers make any purchase from the stores, they show their hanger card to see if it matches one of the “winning numbers” on a card of numbers created by all the partners at the beginning of the contest.
4. Give customers a free product or service from a participating partner when they buy something that month from all of the partners listed in an ad or on a promotional postcard. ***Example: Participating pediatrician practices, child care centers, children’s clothing shops, and toy stores all display a “Love Means Being Prepared” child-designed poster describing the recommended contents for a home medicine cabinet for families with young children.
5. Cross-promote by literally getting closer, sharing space. ***Examples: A store or franchise leases space within another establishment (or agrees on side-by-side sites, or actually sells both kinds of products on site) — Noah’s Bagels sells Starbucks Coffee. A restaurant or fast-food operation leases space within a hospital or motel — Pizza Hut in Days Inn. Kinko’s leases space within certain hotels. Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits in a Kroger supermarket increases traffic for both guest and host companies. The post office locates a substation in a supermarket.
An accessories store leases space within or next to a clothing store and is joined by internal doors. A stadium leases space to a concession operator.
The less traditional cross-promotions are just starting. A campus leases space to a travel agency. Some franchises are co-branding with complementary services such as Copy, Pack & Ship.
<div style=”font-size: 8px;”>by Kare Anderson </div>
How To Have Joy In Your Life
1. Keys for Joyful Living
Here are some thoughs for finding and experiencing joy in your life from Chris Widener. If there were one thing I could wish upon my family, friends and you, it would be joy in everthing you do! As humans we tend to lean towards thinking of all the bad that could happen instead of finding the joy in what we have. Change your thinking and change your life.
Know your purpose. Nothing will bring you joy more than knowing what it is that you are about on this earth. Not knowing bring sadness, wondering, fear and lack of fulfillment. Above all, find out what your unique purpose is here on this earth – then fulfill it! As you do, you will experience joy!
Live purposefully. This is a follow up to number one. It is one thing to know your purpose, but then you need to live according to that purpose. This is a matter of priorities. Let your actions and schedule reflect your purpose. Don’t react to circumstances and let them cause you to live without your purpose fully in site. Living without your purpose will cause frustration. Living purposefully will bring you deep satisfaction and joy!
Stretch yourself. Don’t settle into the status quo. That will leave you unfulfilled. Always look to stretch yourself. Whatever you are doing, stretch yourself to do more! Stretching yourself will break the limits you have set for yourself and will cause you to find joy in your expanded horizons!
Give more than you take. It brings happiness to accumulate. It brings joy to give away. Sure, getting the car you worked hard for will bring you a sense of satisfaction and even happiness. But it won’t bring you joy. Giving something away to the less fortunate will bring you deep, abiding joy.
Surprise yourself, and others too. The words here are spontaneity and surprise! Every once in a while, do the unexpected. It will cause everybody to sit back and say, “Wow, where did that come from?” It will put a little joy in your life, and theirs.
Indulge yourself sometimes. Too much indulgence and you are caught in the happiness trap. Looking for the next purchase, celebration etc to bring you a little “happiness high.” But if you will allow yourself an infrequent indulgence as a reward for a job well done and a life well lived, you will appreciate the indulgence and experience the joy of it.
Laugh a little – no, a lot! Most people are just too serious. We need to laugh a little – no, a lot! Learn to laugh daily, even if you have to learn to laugh in bad situations. This life is to be enjoyed! The next time you go to the movie rental store, get a comedy and let loose! Let yourself laugh!
2. Leadership & Success Quotes
Words do two major things: They provide food for the mind and create light for understanding and awareness. – Jim Rohn
The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there. – Vince Lombardi
Never cease loving a person, and never give up hope for him, for even the prodigal son who had fallen most low, could still be saved; the bitterest enemy and also he who was your friend could again be your friend; love that has grown cold can kindle. – Soren Kierkegaard
Be a voice, not an echo. – Chris Widener
The Key to successful Leadership today is Influence, not authority. – Ken Blanchard
I will go anywhere as long as it is forward. – David Livingston
Since Today is the tomorrow that I thought about yesterday, Today, I will do something to improve my tomorrow
“Here’s to your joy and success”
Take a look at my book. It’s a good one. You can trust me 🙂 amzn.to/1yL4hKC
When most of us dream about being writers, we imagine sitting at a desk or in a padded chair overlooking the ocean, writing a novel, and then kicking back as a publisher discovers it and makes it a New York Times best seller. We don’t want to have to do anything but write. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Today you need a platform.
Platform, simply put, is your visibility as an author. Chuck Sambuchino, author of Create Your Writer Platform, says, “It’s your personal ability to sell your books right this instant.” What that means is the publishers are relying on you, the author, more than ever to build your own audience before your book is for sale. Whether that means having a loyal blog readership, a robust Facebook Fan page, a Twitter following to rival Ashton Kutcher’s or a personal e-newsletter that reaches tens of thousands of people who will buy your book.
The bad news, of course, is that this takes a significant amount of time, meaning you either write less or sleep less. The good news is that if you build a strong enough audience of fans who enjoy your writing, chances are you’ll be better suited to sustain a longer and more financially valuable writing career.
When should you start building a platform? Immediately! How? Well that’s a trickier question. The answer depends on what you feel most comfortable with and how you can best reach your readers.
You want to be as many places online as possible so that more people can find you, but you don’t want too little time interacting with potential readers in every venue.
Your best bet is to pick one or two social networks to dedicate a significant time to work on connecting with people who may enjoy the types of books you write.
Perhaps you could start a blog that features your characters’ back-stories or adventures beyond what readers will learn in your novel. Or, tap into your Twitter following to crowdsource ideas for future character names and histories. You may even consider giving away a full chapter of your novel on your blog, but require readers to submit their email address for access so that you can contact them with a link for purchase when your book is released.
It’s up to you to decide where and how your time is best spent, but it is very important to invest at least some of your time in building a platform. Without one, you’ll be at a disadvantage when trying to convince a publisher to take a chance on your book, no matter how amazing it is.
I have probably spent to much money on entering contests by some standards but not enough by others. How do you feel about entering writing contests? I personally think that any time you can get someone to read your story that it’s worthwhile. When my mind goes wild I begin to think I don’t really know if they read my book or not and it’s a total waste of my time and resources. I tend to go around in circles sometime.
I thought this article was worth sharing to give everyone an idea of what to look for.
Have a blessed day.
If you’ve spent some time entering writing contests, you know they are an investment. Whether it’s poetry, short stories, essays, or chapbooks, most contests charge reading fees. Plus, there’s the “cost” of your time. And when you don’t win, you start to think, “Well, that was twenty bucks down the drain!”
But writing contests CAN help your career if you play your cards right. Having diverse writing credentials is important if you’re trying to establish a reputation. A mix of publications, awards, nominations, and even a few contest wins can go a long way.
But how does a writer know when the entry fee and time spent are worth it?
Do you know how to evaluate a contest to know if it is worth your time?
Here are the questions you’ll need to ask yourself before you fork over your entry fee:
1. Is this contest reputable?
First things first: Don’t enter shady contests (such as fake poetry contests). There are a number of websites out there that are “writing contest factories.” Authors are encouraged to sign up for online communities and/or prodded to enter contests again and again. These sites can be a lot of fun, and many writers use them as a way to build their craft and confidence. But “contest factories” are generally not reputable within the larger, professional publishing industry.
Look for contests that have a solid reputation and longevity (contests that have been running for several years or even decades).
The following questions will help you determine how reputable a contest is and how that level of reputation affects you.
2. Who are the sponsors and organizers?
If the contest in question is run by The New Yorker, then you know you’re looking at a contest of great renown. If the contest in question is run by Sam’s Auto Club and Horseshoe Factory, you’re probably not looking at a contest that is well-known in the industry.
If you can’t find the information you need from the “About Us” section of the contest’s website, email the organizers and ask for details. In most cases, the reputation of the contest’s organizers is directly related to the reputation of the contest.
3. Who are the judges?
Often, it’s the judge who can make or break a contest’s reputation. Some organizations don’t disclose judges (often, literary journal contests are simply judged by the journal’s editors, with no special mention of specific judges).
But a specific judge of a contest might affect your willingness to enter. If a new contest—one that nobody has heard of—is being judged by a fantastic, famous author, you might want to enter. If you win, you can always say “Joe K. Author selected my story to win the You’ve Never Heard Of This Contest Prize.” The famous author’s name goes a long way toward recognition and bragging rights.
4. What’s the relationship of the payment and the payout?
Would you pay ten bucks for a shot at being published in your favorite magazine, with the added incentive of a cash prize, a subscription, and/or the good karma points of financially supporting a publication you admire? If so…then this contest is probably a GO for you.
Would you pay ten bucks so an unknown editor can consider publishing your work on his/her unknown website (which means said work will then be considered previously published and therefore less likely to be eligible for publication elsewhere)?
Maybe, maybe not. Read on.
5. Would winning this contest positively augment your current writing credentials?
If you are a Pulitzer winner, entering a contest that Joe American runs out of his home office isn’t going to help much. Sure, you might win. Just like a shark might win a fight with a goldfish. Would winning help your cause? No.
But if you’ve never published anything before, then winning a smaller contest could be a windfall! There are some ethical but lesser-known contests out there that are really fantastic for newer writers. In fact, some contests are specifically created to encourage aspiring writers, as opposed to veterans.
Look honestly at your publication credits and see if a win would be a step forward for you. If winning the contest means you’ll go from being just another goldfish in the school to being the goldfish at the head of the class, then proceed to enter.
6. What are your odds of winning?
Certain contests—the very well-known ones—attract high-level, professional writers (Hint: These are the contests you should really want to win). Other contests attract hobbyists and new writers. Often, you can determine this by looking at the lists of people who have won in the past, judges, and affiliates.
Keep in mind that there is no rule that says you can’t email a writing contest organizer and ask, “How many entries did you receive the last time you ran this contest?” You might not get an answer, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
QUESTION: How many contests did you enter in the past twelve months
Previously published at Writers Relief
Do you have a problem with the beginning of your book? I know I certainly did. I was very insecure about how Dobyns Chronicles should start, but I finally made a decision. “OLD AGE IS hell, but it’s something all of us have to go through.” Right or wrong you have to make a choice. I wanted the opening to establish the voice of Charley Dobyns and to set the tone. I don’t skip around when I write. I have to have the beginning before I can go on with my writing.
You must have a strong opening and that’s not easily done. Duff Brenna, author of Too Cool, a New Times Noteworthy book stated his beginnings stay in flux also. Sometimes the second or third sentence may be the best beginning or even the second or third chapter. We seem to do a lot of rearing of our words to get the beginning that strikes the right cord with us.
I used a dialogue opening which can pique a readers’ curiosity. I noticed a lot of writers go for the scenic opening. The real question is what type of opening will cause your reader to go on though the story. I know for myself that I have picked up a book and read the first page and put it back on the self. If it doesn’t grab my attention, I don’t read it. A good first page captures the reader’s interest and makes them want to read on.
Ellen Sussman, author of A Wedding in Provence, tends to open her novels with a scene. “I want to ground my readers in my fictional world.” She says. “It’s as if I want them to jump right in and join the characters in action. I try to make sure that the opening scene captures some of the tension of the novel as well as introducing the main character and the setting. Of course, the tone gets established right away as well. Tall order for one scene!”
Does your beginning have conflict? Conflict is what drives all fiction. Readers may tend to have certain expectations about an opening based on what genre it is. The avid mystery reader is on the outlook for the story’s victim. Readers also keep an eye out for the protagonist. Even in fantasy a reader has to know that they are in another world where there may be wonders or terror. It doesn’t matter the genre, the beginning has to contain the components to catch your reader.
“Crafting the beginning takes careful attention, patience and a flair for the dramatic” said Jack Smith the author of the article Start to Stop which this blog was based on. It is a major investment of time and energy so we have to make the beginning the best we can make it. Happy writing.
Do you think about the binding on the books that you publish? I can say I don’t give it a moment’s thought in those terms. I think of hard or paper covers. I think of book binding as what makes a book hold together but it is much more than that. And since the proliferation of ebooks the concept has made a change. I’m calling it digital binding. Bookbinding is the process of physically assembling a book from a number of folded or unfolded sheets of paper or other material. It usually involves attaching a book cover to the resulting text-block. Before the computer age, the bookbinding trade involved two divisions. First, there is stationery or vellum binding which deals with making new books intended to be written into, such as accounting ledgers, business journals, and guest log books, along with other general office stationery such as note books, manifold books, portfolios, and etc. Second is letterpress binding which deals with making new books intended to be read from and includes fine binding, library binding, edition binding, and publisher’s bindings. Western books from the fifth century onwards were bound between hard covers, with pages made from parchment folded and sewn on to strong cords or ligaments that were attached to wooden boards and covered with leather. Since early books were exclusively handwritten on handmade materials, sizes and styles varied considerably, and there was no standard of uniformity. Early and medieval codices were bound with flat spines, and it was not until the fifteenth century that books began to have the rounded spines associated with hardcovers today. Because the vellum of early books would react to humidity by swelling, causing the book to take on a characteristic wedge shape, the wooden covers of medieval books were often secured with straps or clasps. These straps, along with metal bosses on the book’s covers to keep it raised off the surface that it rests on, are collectively known as furniture. Terms and Techniques Most of the following terms apply only with respect to American practices: A leaf (often wrongly referred to as a folio) typically has two pages of text and/or images, front and back, in a finished book. The Latin for leaf is folium, therefore “folio” should be followed by a number to distinguish between recto and verso. Thus “folio 5r” means “on the recto of the leaf numbered 5”, although technically not accurate, it is normal to say “on folio 5r”. In everyday speech it is common to refer to “turning the pages of a book”, although it would be more accurate to say “turning the leaves of a book”; this is the origin of the phrase “to turn over a new leaf” i.e. to start on a fresh blank page. The recto side of a leaf faces left when the leaf is held straight up from the spine (in a paginated book this is usually an odd-numbered page). The verso side of a leaf faces right when the leaf is held straight up from the spine (in a paginated book this is usually an even-numbered page). A bifolium (often wrongly called a “bifolio”, “bi-folio”, or even “bifold”) is a single sheet folded in half to make two leaves. The plural is “bifolia”, not “bifolios”. A section, sometimes called a gathering, or, especially if unprinted, a quire, is a group of bifolia nested together as a single unit. In a completed book, each quire is sewn through its fold. Depending on how many bifolia a quire is made of, it could be called: duernion – two bifolia, producing four leaves; ternion – three bifolia, producing six leaves; quaternion – four bifolia, producing eight leaves; quinternion – five bifolia, producing ten leaves; sextern or sexternion – six bifolia, producing twelve leaves. A codex is a series of one or more quires sewn through their folds, and linked together by the sewing thread. A signature, in the context of printed books, is a section that contains text. Though the term signature technically refers to the signature mark, traditionally a letter or number printed on the first leaf of a section in order to facilitate collation, the distinction is rarely made today. Folio, quarto, and so on may also refer to the size of the finished book, based on the size of sheet that an early paper maker could conveniently turn out with a manual press. Paper sizes could vary considerably, and the finished size was also affected by how the pages were trimmed, so the sizes given are rough values only. A folio volume is typically 15 in (38 cm) or more in height, the largest sort of regular book. A quarto volume is typically about 9 in (23 cm) by 12 in (30 cm), roughly the size of most modern magazines. A sheet folded in quarto (also 4to or 4º) is folded in half twice at right angles to make four leaves. Also called: eight-page signature. An octavo volume is typically about 5 to 6 in (13 to 15 cm) by 8 to 9 in (20 to 23 cm), the size of most modern digest magazines or trade paperbacks. A sheet folded in octavo (also 8vo or 8º) is folded in half 3 times to make 8 leaves. Also called: sixteen-page signature. A sextodecimo volume is about 4 1⁄2 in (11 cm) by 6 3⁄4 in (17 cm), the size of most mass market paperbacks. A sheet folded in sextodecimo (also 16mo or 16º) is folded in half 4 times to make 16 leaves. Also called: 32-page signature. Duodecimo or 12mo, 24mo, 32mo, and even 64mo are other possible sizes. Modern paper mills can produce very large sheets, so a modern printer will often print 64 or 128 pages on a single sheet. Trimming separates the leaves of the bound book. A sheet folded in quarto will have folds at the spine and also across the top, so the top folds must be trimmed away before the leaves can be turned. A quire folded in octavo or greater may also require that the other two sides be trimmed. Deckle Edge, or Uncut books are untrimmed or incompletely trimmed, and may be of special interest to book collectors. Paperback Binding Though books are sold as hardcover or paperback, the actual binding of the pages is important to durability. Most paperbacks and some hard cover books have a “perfect binding”. The pages are aligned or cut together and glued. A strong and flexible layer, which may or may not be the glue itself, holds the book together. In the case of a paperback, the visible portion of the spine is part of this flexible layer. Spine Orientation In languages written from left to right, such as English, books are bound on the left side of the cover; looking from on top, the pages increase counter-clockwise. In right-to-left languages, books are bound on the right. In both cases, this is so the end of a page coincides with where it is turned. Many translations of Japanese comic books retain the binding on the right, which allows the art, laid out to be read right-to-left, to be published without mirror-imaging it. In China (only areas using Traditional Chinese), Japan, and Taiwan, literary books are written top-to-bottom, right-to-left, and thus are bound on the right, while text books are written left-to-right, top-to-bottom, and thus are bound on the left. In mainland China, all books have changed to be written and bound like left to right languages in the mid-20th century. The spine of the book is an important aspect in book design, especially in cover design. When the books are stacked up or stored in a shelf, what’s on the spine is the only visible information about the book. In a book store, the details on the spine are what initially attract attention. Spine Titling Early books did not have titles on their spines; rather they were shelved flat with their spines inward, and titles written with ink along their fore edges. Modern books display their titles on their spines. In languages with Chinese-influenced writing systems, the title is written top-to-bottom, as is the language in general. In languages written horizontally, conventions differ about the direction in which the title on the spine is rotated: In the United States, the Commonwealth, Scandinavia and for books in Dutch, titles are usually written top-to-bottom on the spine. This means that when the book is placed on a table with the front cover upwards, the title is oriented left-to-right on the spine. This practice is reflected in the industry standards ANSI/NISO Z39.41and ISO 6357. In most of continental Europe and Latin America, titles are conventionally printed bottom-to-top on the spine so, when the books are placed vertically on shelves, the title can be read by tilting the head to the left.