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Writing Tip Site Worth Viewing

July 19, 2009 Leave a comment

I love it when I stumble upon a great writing site.  If you are a writer, especially one that is trying to break in the field, this site might get you on track.  Well written, clear and to the point, this site gives you strategies that you can implement immediately. book pile

17 Reasons Book Manuscripts Are Rejected lets us in on the inside of the editors’ heads as they wade through pages and pages of material.  This site is well organized; each post offered something I hadn’t thought of or am now looking at a topic in a different light.

Don’t forget to bookmark this site, because you will not be able to read all the entries in one sitting.  The title of the blog is Quips and Tips for the Successful Writer

http://theadventurouswriter.com/blogwriting/freelance-writing/17-reasons-book-manuscripts-are-rejected/

Emails: the time leech

July 12, 2009 Leave a comment

Technology, specifically email, has been a blessing and a curse.  Recently, my employer asked the us employees to refrain from hopping onto our email accounts so frequently.  She said that two or three times during the work day should be more than enough. 

Although I bristled at the thought of changing my behavior…an occasional “good” email, one that makes us smile or delivers good news, often breaks up the work day. 

Well, the first day of email access three times a day wasn’t as traumatic as I thought it would be.  I was more productive.  I was able to plan and organize better because I was more focused.  And the first week rolled into the second.  My work seemed less disjointed. 

Then, I started a project that required me to email out.  I was back to my old habit again like an alcoholic having a relapse.  However, I realize how emails can steal precious time, so I have cut back again at work.  I have cut back at home.  I would like to think that I am reclaiming time to write, but I can see that I may have to leave home to get any real writing done. 

Home is the biggest distraction.  Like exercising, you have to initiate discipline.  You have to ignore the calls to help find the favorite pair of socks or the ketchup.  You have to shed the pressure of preparing meals and focus on achieving even small goals toward a writing project.  This is my next step…leaving home or finding a 6 X 8 cell with a door.

But for right now, curbing the emails is a good thing,despite those beckoning words to peek.

Do you suffer an addiction to email reading as I do?   Share your thoughts, but time yourself…after all, your response may be helpful to others, but not helpful in advancing your writing project.

Thought Leaders

June 30, 2009 Leave a comment

One of the hot new terms in our lexicon these days is the concept of a thought leader.  Those of us who have a specialty can now share creative thoughts, views and opinions with the rest of the world through social media sites.

If you happen to specialize in romance writing, for example, you can visit any number of writing sites to post your expertise.  Recognition for your contribution comes in the form of e-networking opportunities, which may parlay into meeting an editor or a literary agent.

So be bold.  Share your thoughts.  Just a note though.  Remember that your information has a far reach and therefore, you need to always remember what the image you are trying to create for yourself and make sure that publication of your thoughts are aligned with your desired image.

Tweeting about Twittering

June 21, 2009 Leave a comment

I truly don’t know how anyone gets anything done, if they spend time with all these social media windows open on their computer.  While I see the merits of staying connected, I also know someone’s every move, sharing every feeling with not just one or two seems like too much information. 

And pardon me for being so cynical, but what if some not-so-honest person decides to use the online exchange to help himself to the twit’s belongings because the twit announced that he is driving 40 miles away to  be in a wedding party.  Bingo, the twit just opened his home to thieves.

With Google, you can pop the person’s name and do a search.  You can learn how old the person is, where he works and what’s his position, his college information, how many places the twit has lived.  You can Google his present address and see quite clearly all the locations the individual has lived, how many living there complete with full names.  Google maps can show you the front door, the topography.  Yes, there is very little left for the thieves’ imagination.  And if the person has joined and added a profile on any one of the social media websites, the thief knows much more about his victim than he ever needs to know—thus making his job all the more easy.

Oh and let’s have some computer nerd genius decide that it would be great to develop a software that will track a person’s personal daily time line with behaviors and preferences based on the information in cyberspace.  This would be a thief’s HOW TO book.

The not so nice people could also include rapists, pedaphiles, and scam artists.  There is no telling what other occupations may burgeon from gathering personal information.

While we benefit tremendously from news around the world and personal enrichment from these sites, will the downside outweigh the good?

As social media becomes one of the primary sources for news, will we suffer inaccuracies and purposefully placed lies?

Will politics gain another outlet to galvanize public opinion and perhaps, not in a good way, because there will be no fair and balanced reporting?

Will our children who grew up with technology have another vice that will keep them tethered to hardware and not to people in person?

Will the new generation find themselves even more sedentary because the social media connection is addictive?  Will their health suffer for all the hours on line?

It will be interesting to see how people will use this media.  I doubt this will be a fad, but like everything else human beings need to find a balance.

Metatags: How to pick the best keywords

June 13, 2009 Leave a comment

For those who don’t know what metatags are, here’s my simple definition.  Metatags are words that help search engines find your site, text, or video.  When you post your site, text or video, there is often a box where you can add metatag words separated by a comma.  So, how do you know what words to list?

fortune-cookieFor years most of us just put whatever buzz words were contained in the copy or words that described the bigger picture.  It was a hit or miss proposition, but since there is no limit on the metatags you can add, you just use your imagination and list every word that you think relates.  I just discovered a better way to get targeted results and erase the guessing.

On Google Adwords, there is a keyword tool.  You type in the word you think best describes your site, passage, etc., copy the validation code in the box (this is to get around bots using the site), and click Get Key Words.  Up will pop a list of key words and the number of hits.  If you select the more popular key words, there is a high likelihood that your site will generate more traffic. 

Here it is:

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

Categories: Marketing

Eegaads! My Mom's Got Her Own Website.

June 4, 2009 Leave a comment

While most seniors are coasting in the last years of their lives, my mom., Emma-Jean Chu keeps on learning — about herself, technology, and her art.  Now at the age of 80, she has learned how to share her talent with the rest of the world.  I might be biased, but I think she is a damn good artist. 

Take a look at her artwork and let me know what your first impressions are.  http://www.studioej.imagekind.com

Scenes, Sequels, and Chapters Commentary

May 27, 2009 Leave a comment

If you are new to writing fiction, one of the foundations of writing good fiction is understanding the relationship of how plots are set up.  Many new writers spend hours sifting through books to have this mystery unraveled.  I remember looking for the answer in the 70’s, and I came away more confused as ever.  (I hate to date myself, but there were no Internet resources at the time.) 

Today I read Randy Ingermanson’s blog on Scenes, Sequels and Chapters.  His breakdown and definition were so clear that it was hard not to get an Oprah “lightbulb moment.”   letters-in-book

 This topic generated lots of comments.  Most of them concur that renaming scene/sequel would make the concept easier to understand.  One popular suggestion is action/reaction.

If you are struggling with how to generate the optimum powerful emotional experience (Randy’s term for playing the scene for everything its worth without getting too melodramatic), then as a writer you have to master scene/sequel or whatever you choose to call it.

This is a must read for both the new writer and the seasoned writer: http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/blog/2009/05/25/scenes-sequels-and-chapters/

Be sure to also check out Randy’s free lesson on How to Create the Perfect Scene.  You won’t regret taking the time to do this, even if you already know how innately. Bringing someone back to the fundamentals enhances powerful writing rather than detracts.

Blogging with a Twist

May 25, 2009 Leave a comment

If you thought about it, you could have guessed that the next breakthrough in sharing online is blogging through video.  You don’t have to wait any longer.  You can reach people more personally by video recording what you want to say and uploading it on www.blogtalkradio.com.

You will find that there is someone that wants to talk about almost every topic.  Unlike the written word, seeing the person and watching the mannerisms connects on a deeper level that the written word cannot.

I searched the site for people who spoke on writing.  And voila, there were many people out there sharing their writing insights. 

For busy people, I think reading is faster, but for those who want a deeper connection to personal stories and sage knowledge given, this might be what you have been waiting for.

You can listen to what’s posted or you can start your own talk show.  (How many of us have dreamed of this opportunity, but  never thought we would be lucky enough to reach millions of people.)  Best of all, all this is free.  So, get out your entrepreneur hat.  How can we use this social media outlet to further our writing exposure?  Can we use this on more than one level?

Actually, WordPress has a video upload capability.  I just now noticed it. Anyway, check www.blogtalkradio.com out and let me know what you think. 
Oh I forgot to mention.  This site is free and you don’t have to download software to view or upload.

Are You Satisfied With the Status Quo?

May 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Half- written stories, rejected submissions, and possible story lines found their way to my desk drawer graveyard through not understanding a couple of rules of the road in this craft.

The first rule is not to take a sabbatical while working on a project.  It is the kiss of death for many a project.  The obits of my characters read:  Died before I lived.  Everytime  I start writing a story and put it down for a few weeks, inertia takes over and I cannot resume. 

If I drop writing, even for as little as six weeks, I see more subtle changes in my characters as they adopt the influences or viewpoints that came into my life during that short time span.  The differences may be subtle, but nevertheless there.   Once changes are made, they, no doubt, alter other parts of the story line, and sometimes it means starting from scratch.

Consistency is the key.  It may take only a three day break to lose interest.  If you write everyday, even if it is for a short period, your interest will not wane, your momentum will not sag.  It takes a tremendous amount of discipline and perseverence to dust off an older piece of work and rework it.

Another observation I made about my writing is that if I don’t know my characters well enough at the onset, I lose interest.  I have to be emotionally engaged to keep the writing from being dull.   If I am not familiar with my characters, they never materialize on the page.  They aren’t bigger than life. Since they never seem involved in their own lives, they all appear to have self-esteem issues.  How boring is that! 

These characters maybe a stereotype without depth, without uniqueness.  They move through their lives aloof, controlling their space without connecting with anyone on or off the page.  Just like a marriage license doesn’t make a marriage, a character even though connected to another character may still have the reader  screaming into the page:  What about passion?  What about love?  What about sacrifice and honor?  Damn it.  Say something.  Do something.  This is exactly what results when your characters are not well established in your head.

So, if you find your characters a little lackluster, do your homework.  Etch out everything about this character.  Create a backstory to establish a reason for his/her behavior.  Add a quirk or two for interest and make it points of challenge in the character’s goal.

I posted a question on a www.LinkedIn.com  group asking whether established writers prefer to develop character over plot or vice versa when beginning a novel.  One respondent likened it to playing the piano.  You can play the melody with your right hand, the harmony and chords with your left, but eventually, you will want to play them together. Together the music is whole, rich and filled with texture.

If I was happy with the status quo, my writing could never get better.  Writing is one craft that you can be learning something new every day of your life.  This is why writers keep writing.

What did you learn last?  Care to share it?

Tired of Rejection? — Must Read Book

April 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Front Cover   If you write fiction, everyone tells you rejection is part of the process.  If you were selling a hammer for instance, how is your no name hammer different from the Sears, True Temper, or Stanley model?  What makes yours better?

This is the very same question publishers and agents ask when you submit your novel.  Why this novel and not the next one lying on the slush pile? 

Noah Lukeman is a literary agent in NYC.  He has written a book called The First Five Pages – A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile. 

This is a book for both novices and seasoned writers.  It is about the craft of writing, but unlike Strunk and White’s classic Elements of Style, this book will increase your chances of staying out of the rejection pile.  As a literary agent Lukeman shares with us exactly what agents and publishers look for in a manuscript. 

The First Five Pages covers common manuscript errors, gives solid advice on what attracts agents and editors, and provides writers with the tools to take their craft to the next level. 

The topics range from listening to how a writer puts words together to creating effective dialogue, to designing a more holistic picture of getting all the other elements working together (viewpoint, narration, characterization, hooks, tone, focus, setting and pacing).

What I like about this book is that it is more than just a text defining what constitutes good story telling.  Lukeman isolates the problem, illustrates and defines the writing technique and offers a better solution.  He adds exercises at the end of each section to help the writer identify weaknesses.

Yes, I am guilty of breezing through exercises without doing them.  However, Lukeman’s suggestions were different.  He didn’t burden you with “assignments”.  He asks you to take the work you have already created and examine it from a different perspective. 

Lukeman’s writing style is easy and conversational.  He talks to us in the lowest common denominator, which really helps if you are reading this past midnight.

Perhaps, my only real criticism may not be with the content as much as the publisher. All his excerpts were difficult to read because of the size of the type.  Passages looked as if they are in 8 pt., New Times Roman, italic.  Anyone in the business knows that comfortable reading is  10 pt. or higher.

This book gets a thumbs up from me for its content and usefulness.  Noah Lukeman may not have all the answers to keep your first novel from being rejected, but if you practice what he outlines in his book, your work will surely show promise.