Tag Archives: blogging

Letting Characters Off Too Easily

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dorkPeople show the stuff they’re made of when they’re put under stress.  Sometimes they rise to the occasion and become heroic.  Other times they run.  Part of why war stories are so compelling is because soldiers face the ultimate stressful situation.  They’re putting their lives on the line.  Your character doesn’t need to face death, but he should have to deal with pressure.

Consider Bailiey, for example.  He likes to play golf, but he’s not that good at it.  Then he meets a woman who happens to be a very good golfer.  He begins to care a little more about his game.  Then the woman’s father invites them along on a golfing vacation.  Now our friend begins to care even more, because he doesn’t want to look like a fool.  Then it turns out that the father has been advising his daughter to break up with Bailey because he doesn’t consider him manly enough.  Now Bailey cares even more.  He’s going to beat this man if it’s the last thing he does.  Then, on vacation, they run into the daughter’s old boyfriend, who just won a golfing tournament.

I could go on and on, but the point is that each twist of the wheel puts this poor man under more stress and pressure.  His actions are going to have more significant consequences if someone he loves is involved.  His choices will be harder to make.  The reader’s going to care about him more, because we know how hard he’s struggling.  As a writer, I’m going to have an easier time writing a story when the stakes are higher.  Is he going to crack! Or is he going to reach inside himself and fine some strength of character he didn’t know he had?

In order to put your characters under pressure, you have to know them well.  This is why fleshing our character is so important.  For this story, I would want to know how Bailey learned to golf, how he met this woman, what sort of romantic history he has, where he works, what he looks like, how much confidence he has, how he dresses and why on earth his parents decided to name him Bailey.  The more I know about him, the more fully I can make him come alive.  What if, in thinking about Bailey’s character, I realize that he was captain of his high school football team? Does that change things? I think so.  Explore your characters. Get to know them. Make them suffer.

The Writer’s Platform

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Writer2When 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.

Original by Brian A. Klems

Words Beginning With For- and Fore-

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writingHello everyone, this morning I am posting from Daily Writing tips about some common problem words. Have a great weekend and blessings to all.
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English has several words that begin with the prefixes for- and fore- Sometimes the prefix means “before” or “in front of.” Sometimes it means “outside,” a meaning derived from an Old French element related to modern French hors, as in the French borrowing hors d’oeuvre, “outside the main course.”

Perhaps the most frequently misspelled of this category is the word found at the beginning of many books: Foreword.

A book’s foreword is a preface, a brief essay not necessarily essential for the understanding of the text of a book and commonly written by someone other than the author of the text. Confusion arises from the existence of the adjective forward.

As an adjective, forward is used to describe something that is in front of or ahead of something else. On a ship, things located towards the front are said to be forward, for example, the “forward hold.” A “forward child” in a positive sense is a clever child, precocious for its years. In a negative sense, a “forward child” is like the ones on television who exchange quips, insults, and double entendres with adults; again, the sense is that the child is ahead of its years.

The three verbs forecast, foretell, and foresee all mean “to predict” or “to prophesy,” but have different connotations:

The weatherman forecast showers for Monday. (prediction based on analysis of data)
The gypsy foretold Gwen’s marriage to a rancher. (prediction based on mysterious knowledge)
Harold’s business experience enabled him to foresee the consequences of his partner’s decision. (prediction based on personal experience)

Some other verbs beginning with fore- in which the sense is “happening before” are:

forebode: to announce beforehand.
Forebode and forbid come from OE verbs with similar meanings. Forbid now means “to command a person not to do something.” Forebode means to announce ahead of time. The word forbode carries a connotation of dread, for example, “Vanishing act of middle class forebodes turbulent time.”

The verb bode, on the other hand, means simply “to predict” or “to give promise of something” and may be used in either a positive or a negative context:
Stephen Colbert’s Super-Charming ‘Late Show’ Appearance Bodes Well for His New Gig.
Scottish independence does not bode well for its economy

foreordain: to determine in advance.
“His hostility drives the drama in the first act, and his frenetic dancing in the second makes his demise seem foreordained.”

forewarn: to warn or caution in advance.
This quotation from Charles Kingsley has become a proverb: “To be forewarned is to be forearmed,” (i.e., knowledge of what is about to happen is like having a weapon with which to defend yourself).

In the following nouns the prefix has the sense of “before”:

forelock: A lock of hair growing from the fore part of the head, just above the forehead.
In old novels you’ll find references to farm workers and other social inferiors touching or tugging their forelocks to show respect to their superiors: “There was plenty of bobbing from the girls and pulling of forelocks from the boys.” The expression “to take opportunity by the forelock” means to take advantage of a situation as aggressively as possible: “He seized opportunity by the forelock and secured the best aid possible in his business…”

forefather: an ancestor, one who has come before.

foresight: The action or faculty of foreseeing what must happen. For example, “[Jacob Little] had unusual foresight, which at times seemed to amount to prescience.”

In the following verbs, the prefix is from the French borrowing that meant “outside”:

forbear: to abstain or refrain from
“The defendants were asked to forbear to arrest Mr. Swift.”

forswear: to swear falsely; to abandon or renounce
“As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,
So the boy Love is perjured everywhere.” –A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I, i, 240-241.

forfeit: to lose the right to; give up
“The execution of a murderer does not violate his right to life, because he forfeited that right when he committed a murder.” –John Locke

forget: to lose remembrance of

forgive: to give up resentment

forsake: to give up, renounce

foreclose: to preclude, hinder, or prohibit (a person) from (an action). Although spelled fore-, the prefix in foreclose has the “out” meaning, as in “to shut out.”

Finally, there are two words that look almost alike, but have quite different origins:

forebear (noun): An ancestor, forefather, progenitor (usually more remote than a grandfather).
This noun is formed from the prefix fore- (before) and an old word, beer. This beer has nothing to do with the beverage. Instead, it comes from the verb to be. A be-er is one who exists. A forebear existed before you did.

forbear (verb): to abstain or refrain from something.
“Woman, forbear that weeping!”

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Year End: A Reflection

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Happy new year with fireworks.It’s hard to believe this is the last day of 2012. This year has gone by so fast for me. My mother told me many years ago that it would happen. At the time I didn’t believe her but I have since learned she knew exactly what she was talking about.  The older you get the faster the time goes.

I think back when I was small and would ask how old I would be when I got out of school and just when that was going to happen. Then I couldn’t wait to turn 16 so I could drive a car legally. Since I lived in a very rural area, I started driving dirt roads when I was twelve. I was really big stuff once I got my licence. Then the next time I couldn’t wait for, was turning twenty-one. I wanted to be old enough to party with my friends.

Once I made it past twenty-one things began to speed up. I was married with two kids and time began to pass by too quickly. My children grew up at a great rate of speed.  Now my grand and great-grand children are doing they same thing, but it seems even faster.

I now know that each second we have on this earth is precious. I may not be here in twenty-five years or as far as that goes, I may not be here tomorrow. The New Year makes me very reflective of my life and all of my blessings. I’ve met a lot of very friendly, kind and wonderful people through WordPress. I’ve been able to share my writings as well as my thoughts on different topics. It has been a blessing to me to be able to share a part of me and my life as it is now.

I’ve also figured out that bad times happen, but it’s what we do during and after those times that matter.  Through the grace of God I’ve made it so far and I’m going to see another New Year, if God leaves me here one more day.  My hope and prayer is for everyone to have a safe, healthy, and Happy New Year.  Until next year.   Shirley

You’ve earned your rest, Daddy

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         You were at the beginning of my life

Now I’m at the ending of yours

You’ve gone from this world

Joining mama on the other side

A part of me is joyous for you

the other part feels sad

My world seems empty

Because you aren’t here

Your life here on this earth

Meant so much to so many

You loved and were loved

By your family and friends

Even though I can’t see you

You will always be with me

I will carry you in my heart

Every day for the rest of my life

You’ve earned your rest, Daddy

 My father passed away this week from complications of heart failure. I will not be posting for a little while. As soon as I can, I will get back to writing my blog.  Right now my heart is a little to heavy.      Shirley

Nagging Voice

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For the past several days I’ve had this nagging voice in my head telling me to write a story. I push it away and it returns a short time later. I woke up this morning thinking about it, one more time. I am beginning to think someone is trying to tell me something. Have any of you ever had a head voice nagging you about something? If so what did you do? Did you continue to push it away or finally give into it and do what it was telling you to do.

Today, I am going to write that short story called The Red Shoes and post it on my website shirley-mclain.com. I’m going to stop that little nagging voice. It is a non-fiction story dealing with the trauma of alcoholism.

I think dealing with any issue in your life is better than pushing it aside time after time. My little voice may only be talking about writing a story, but even if it was pushing me to something outside my comfort zone, I think I would follow my voice. Of course, if your voice is telling you something you know is wrong or could hurt someone then that is a totally different thing.

Bottom line is deal with whatever your inner voice is saying to you. I truly believe there is a reason we have that little voice inside of us prompting us to do what needs to be done.

Feeling Guilty

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Who's Guilty?

Image via Wikipedia

I don’t just feel guilty, I am guilty.  Right now I bet your wondering what I’m guilty of.  It is neglect of my blog.  I started out gung-ho blogging everyday.  That went well for awile, and then life  interferred.  I started back again and thought I would do it  three days a week and life did it to me again.  What do you do when your life interfers with  what you want to do.

I have mangaed to get my book, The Tower back to the publisher after reworking it, including a new cover.  I’ve moved back to my home state of Oklahoma, to be closer to my family. I am enjoying being close to my grandchildren.  Being close to the family has a draw back. I haven’t had the time to do any writing because I am to.busy nesting in my new home and playing Nanna.

Writing has taken a back seat to life, so does that make me less of a writer?  How does everyone deal with life and writing?

Tips For General Blogging

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Day 10:

1) Try to respond to any comments made on your blog, even if it is just a thank you.

2) Blog regularly; I intend to blog daily, others blog weekly.  The trick is to be consistent with your blogging.  Kristin Lamb says, ” Do quality over quantity.”

3) Blogging is considered author training.  It makes you write good content, so you have to pace yourself.  You do not want to write and write until you are sick of it.  I believe that is called burn out.

4) Use Status Updates, participating in conversations is essential to having people recognize you are around.  It is a powerful tool, and you will use it to connect with, befriend, and mobilize your influencers.

5) Give people slices of your life, in your blog.  It makes the blogger appear more human to their reader.

6) When you connect with someone, conversation is the most powerful tool you have.

7) Make sure that content you post is entertaining or informative.  It will be noticed if you are putting out good current information or just fluff and junk.

8) Be good to all those who are good to you.  If you see someone reposting your content and they are trying to build a following, then help them.  Networks are hard to build and we all need as much help as possible.

9)Always be positive, and I know sometimes that is hard to do. Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “you can get everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”  You want the people who read your blog to associate you with being positive.

I hope this information from Kristine Lambs book, “We Are Not Alone, The Writers Guide to Social Media is as helpful to you as it is to me.  I believe the more information we can share with each other, the better writers we will become.  That’s my two cents for today.

Branding, Part 2 What not to do

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Kristine Lamb wrote in her book “We Are Not Alone”, she has made all the mistakes when it comes to social networking.  I had to laugh when I read some of her great ideas turned into “tar babies”.  Those tar babies is what prompted her to write her book.  She lists several mistakes that writers make when they start branding.  I will list them here.

1) Brand yourself, not the title of your book:  That makes sense because if you brand your book then you would be doing a rebrand every time you published.  Also unless you self-publish you have no control over the title of the book.

2) Branding  your content:  This works just like branding the title.  You have to have a brand that can be used with everything, or you will be repeating the branding.

3) Branding Names of Characters:  Build your platform using your name that way you do not have to keep rebranding

4)Branding Multiple Identities:  Even if you do a number of different genres, you don’t need multiple identities.  The example Kristine uses was “Proctor and Gamble”.  They have hundreds of products, but you recognize the name, “Proctor and Gamble”.

“I can put all of my products under one umbrella of Kristen Lam to make things easy and simple for my fans.  Through this brand I can then direct traffic.”

If you are a new author like myself we will tend to lean heavily on networking with others authors.  We need to learn more about our craft and the world of publishing.  Once the publishing is done then you can network with people who can show you how to boost book sales.

Blogging Every Day

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I have accepted the challege of blogging everyday in 2011.  I think each of us that accomplish this goal will find we have grown in our writing abilities. I know for myself, even though I have been published, I have so much more to learn about the  field of writing.  As I have been told all of my life,  “there is always room for improvement.”  That one little line is so true in my case.  I want to learn how to improve in every area of my writing.

I am also purchasing me a kindle for my reading.  I am not sure how I am going to like it, because I am a paper person when it comes to books.  I think the time has come for me to take the step.  Kindle users let me know what you think about using the kindle and which one to purchase.

Everyone have a safe and Happy New Year and I will see you next year.