Feb 12

Building a Writing Career Takes Practice and Focus

writing successMy 10 year old grandson is trying out for the All County Band in his area. He was telling me the piece he has to play is difficult. I told him that practice is a powerful tool. Just 10-15 minutes a day will help tremendously.

Obviously the more practice the better, but my grandson has ADHD. Reducing the amount of time on practicing doesn’t make it seem overwhelming – it’s doable.

This philosophy will work for anything, including writing.

What does it take to have a flourishing writing career?

1. Learn the craft and practice it.

To be a ‘good’ writer, an effective writer, a working writer, you need to know your craft. The only way to do this is to study it.

If you’re starting out, take a few courses online or offline or both. Get a strong grasp of the basics.

We’re all familiar with “practice makes perfect.”

There’s a reason that saying has lasted. It’s true.

Writing coach Suzanne Lieurance says, “Writing is a lot like gardening because it takes constant pruning and weeding.”

You need to keep up with your craft. Even as your get better at it, keep honing your craft. Keep learning more and more and practice, practice, practice

So, what does it mean to practice?

Simple. Write. Write. Write.

An excellent way to improve your writing skills is to copy (type and/or handwrite) content of a master in the niche you want to specialize in.

This is a copywriting trick. You actually write the master’s words and how to write professionally mentally sinks in.

Now, we all know that this is just a practice tool. We should never ever use someone else’s content as our own.

2. Focus in on a niche.

Have you heard the adage: A jack of all trades and master of none?

This is the reason you need to specialize.

You don’t want to be known as simply okay or good in a number of different niches. You want to be known as an expert in one or two niches.

This way, when someone is looking for a writer who specializes in, say, memoirs and autobiographies, you’re at the top of the list

I would recommend that your niches are related, like memoirs and autobiographies or being an author and book marketing.

Along with this, focus produces results.

According to an article in Psychology Today on focus and results, Dan Goleman Ph.D. says, “The more focused we are, the more successful we can be at whatever we do. And, conversely, the more distracted, the less well we do. This applies across the board: sports, school, career.

So, practice and focus your way to a successful writing career.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Create a Believable Protagonist with Realistic Characteristics
Keep Your Writing Goals Front and Center
The Author Platform – You Definitely Need One and It Should Have Been Started Yesterday

Let's talk about your children's writing projectLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

 

Feb 05

What Is Your Writing Forte?

Tips on Writing.Writing is such a unique journey for each and every writer. Some find it easy to meld their chapters one into another; others find it easy to get just the right ending, with some kind of twist or surprise that gives it a great edge. Others still, find it easy to jump right into a story and write a grab-the-reader beginning. And, there are other aspects of writing a story that some writers just breeze though effortlessly.

I find it relatively easy to start a story. I can create a beginning that jumps into the action, which is what most stories, especially children’s stories need. But . . . I find it difficult to end my stories. I have no idea why. I can start it, bring it along toward an ending, but, then I fizzle out. My endings are initially weak and definitely lacking.

While I noted this weakness in my writing, it didn’t really hit home until I submitted a manuscript to a children’s publisher. I pitched the story to the publisher during an Online Writers Conference. The publisher allowed me to submit a synopsis and the first three chapters.

The editor who read the chapters and synopsis liked the storyline, but was confused about my ending in the synopsis. As I mentioned above I have trouble with my endings. Aside from that, the editor recommended the publisher request the manuscript so they could look it over. They did advise I edit it first and work on the ending. And so I did. I created an entirely new ending.

It’s funny, but I think there are times when some form of inspiration can take us where we don’t usually tread . . . that helps us overcome our obstacles or mountains.

In the case of my story, I came up with a pretty good ending that tied everything together and afforded a surprise. I worked on this story for around two years and finally when it counted, I found the right path for the story to take.

We writers must pay attention to our writing weak spots and work on them. I was fortunate that an editor and publisher looked beyond my weak points and gave me the opportunity to improve my story. This is not always the case.

So, what’s a writer to do?

Well, the very basics are simple:

1. Make sure you’re a part of a critique group with new and experienced writers. The critique members may be able to help you over the hurdles. At the very least, they’ll catch a number of mistakes in everything from structure to grammar that you missed.

2. If you have to, write a few different scenarios in the section you’re having trouble with, to help you open up. And, if you’re still having trouble with your story, put it away for at least a week, preferably more, and then go back to it. It’s almost like magic; you’ll see it differently, with a newness and awareness. And, listen when inspiration comes a knockin!

3. If nothing else works, hire a developmental editor or ghostwriter to help rewrite the sections you’re having difficulty with.

MORE WRITING FOR CHILDREN

5 Top Fiction Writing No-Nos
Build Confidence as a Writer – 12 Ways
Writing – 6 Essential Steps to Publication

Let's talk about your children's writing project

Let me take a look at your story. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Jan 29

3 Steps to Querying Publishers and Agents

Writing for children.You’ve been slaving for months, maybe years, on your manuscript. You’ve read about belonging to a critique group to help you hone your work and took the advice to heart. You have also listened to the advice about submitting your manuscript to an editor after your critique group is done with it, and after you’ve meticulously self-edited it. Now, you’re ready to begin submissions.

While some authors choose to send queries to a publisher or an agent, there is no reason to choose, send queries off to both. But, there are a few steps you need to be aware of before you actually start submitting:

1. First Impressions

Professionalism, professionalism, professionalism. Yes, be professional. As with any business correspondence, do not use colored stationary, colored text, elaborate font, scented paper or envelope, or any other unprofessional features. You get one shot at making a first impression; don’t blow it on silly additions. And, don’t try to be cute or send a gift. Again, be professional.

2. Research

So, you understand you need to appear professional, but you also need to send your query to the right recipients. You can have the most professional looking query letter, but if you send a query to a romance publisher and you have written a children’s picture book, guess what? You’ll be out of luck.

Research for publishers and agents who work within the genre you write. There are services, such as WritersMarket (http://www.writersmarket.com/) that provide information on where and how to sell your articles or manuscripts. While these services may charge for the service, it is a worthwhile investment.

There are also books that offer the same information, such as Writer’s Market, and Children’s Writers and Illustrator’s Market. If you choose this option, you will need to get the new versions each year. Agents and publishers are changing staff all the time, new companies are popping up and others are closing down, you will need up-to-date information for your query submissions.

3. Content

In the February 2011 issue of the Writer, agent Betsy Lerner explained, “Editors and agents alike enjoy nothing more than being startled awake by a witty or moving letter.” They want to see something special and unique; this is where your pitch comes in.

While you may have taken heed and had your manuscript critiqued and looked at by an editor, you can do the same with your query letter.

You want to give the impression that you are intelligent, so your query letter must reflect that. Get it in the best shape possible, with a great hook, and then send it off to be critiqued.

Publishers and agents receive more queries than they can comfortably handle, so don’t give them a reason to simply reject yours because of unprofessionalism. Give your query and manuscript every possible opportunity for success.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Book Marketing – The Foundation
How to Write a Story
Traditional Publishing and the Author Platform – Be Realistic

Jan 22

Balance in Fiction Writing – The Major Elements

Writing elements needed for balanced writingThere are five major elements to a fiction story and it’s the combination of these elements that make the story complete, interesting, and considered good writing.  Too much of one or not enough of another can affect the readers ability to connect with the story. So, what are the major elements of a story?

The Major Elements of a Story

1.    Protagonist
2.    Setting
3.    Plot
4.    Point of view
5.    Theme

Let’s break them down:

The Protagonist: Introduce the main character. Using your imagination you can make him unique. He can have particular mannerisms or quirks, or even distinct physical attributes. You can also make him likeable or unsavory, but remember you will need the reader to be able to create a connection to him. It’s this connection that will prompt the reader to continue reading on. Your protagonist needs to be real…believable.

The Setting: This will establish the time and place the story takes place. The setting can create a feeling and mood – if you’re writing about swashbuckling pirates, your reader will be in a certain mind set. The same holds true for any other setting you choose. It will be intrinsic to the plot/conflict and will help establish vivid imagery for the reader.

The Plot: This is the meat of the story – the forward movement, the conflict or struggle that drives the protagonist toward his goal. This involves any danger, suspense, romance, or other reader grabbing occurrence. The conflict can be emotional (an internal struggle – a tormented soul) or physical (from an external/outside force – good against evil).

Point of View: This establishes whose point of view the story is being told. It’s important to make this clear. Even if you have two main characters, there needs to be one who is primary in order to keep clarity within the story.

The Theme: This establishes what is important to the story. It usually evolves along with the story and the protagonist’s progression. If Jesus is your protagonist, establishing and promoting Christianity might be the theme. It might be the story’s view on life and the people/characters the protagonist encounters. It is the idea the author wants the reader to take away with him/her.

Utilizing each of these elements can create a unique, fascinating, and memorable story.

Just like the ingredients in a cooking recipe, writing has its own set of ingredients that produce a wonderful end product. A pinch here, a dab there – you hold the unique recipe to your story.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

The One Sentence Pitch for Your Manuscript
How Do You Build a Successful Writing Career? (3 Tips)
Aim for Writing Success

Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Jan 15

Create a Believable Protagonist with Realistic Characteristics

Create believable charactersIt’s noted that you should let the reader see your protagonist’s characteristics within the first few pages. This enables the reader to quickly identify with him. This connection will determine whether the reader turns the next page.

Unless you’re writing fantasy or science fiction, your protagonist will have ordinary strengths (possibly extraordinary, but within the realm of reality); he will also have weaknesses. These qualities need to be conveyed early on.

Here are 12 characteristics that may pertain to a protagonist or main character (MC):

1. Intelligent: Is your MC smart? If so how smart: is he a genius, did he finish college, does he gets all As in school?

2. Handy or Crafty: Maybe your MC isn’t great at academics, but is he handy, musically inclined, or crafty?

2. Arrogant: Does your character think he’s better or smarter than others?  Does he let others know it? If so, how?

3. Trustworthy: Is your MC the kind of individual that others feel they can trust?

4. Determined: Does your MC know what he wants and strives to obtain his goal?

5. Greedy: Is your MC the kind of person who wants everything he doesn’t have? Is he the type of person who wants much more than he actually needs? Does he make it obvious?

6. Dependable: Is your MC the kind of individual that others know they can count on?

7. Brave: Does your MC do what he has to even if he’s frightened? Is he known for his bravery?

8. Cowardly: Is your MC afraid of his own shadow? Does he try to avoid any kind of confrontation or adventure?

9. Caring: Does your MC demonstrate kind and caring qualities? Does his family and friends think of him as a caring individual?

10. Selfish: Does your MC think of only himself? Is he known for this unsavory quality?

11. Strong: Does your MC have great physical strength? Is he strong emotionally?

12. Weak: Is your MC weak either physically or emotionally or both?

These are just some of the characteristics you can give to your protagonist. There are many others though, such as: shrewd, cheap, a liar, a thief, a go getter, beautiful, awkward, loyal, kind, lazy, introvert, extrovert, and cruel.

It’s up to you as the creator to give your protagonist a set of characteristics that will allow him to connect to the reader – whether the reader loves him or hates him there must be a connection. This connection is what will cause the reader to keep turning the pages.

Be cautious though, if you are giving your protagonist unsavory qualities at the beginning, be sure to include at least one redeeming quality otherwise your audience may not find that connection and decide not to read on.

And, remember, you can always have the protagonist change characteristics through the momentum of the story. He can start out as a coward and through various occurrences within the story he can evolve into a hero, or whatever you choose. That’s the amazing thing about being a writer – you create something from nothing. You give your character breathe and dimension.

MORE WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Working with a Children’s Ghostwriter – The Process
Book Marketing – The Foundation
How to Write a Story

Let's talk about your children's writing project

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700.

Jan 08

Keep Your Writing Goals Front and Center

Have focused writing goals.As a writer, you have to move forward to keep up with the onslaught of books and authors in the book publishing arena. And, you especially need to be sure you’re keeping in alignment with your writing goals. This means every now and then you need to stop to evaluate what your core goals are and if you’re actually heading in that direction.

Every marketer will tell you that the beginning of each year you need to create a list of core or major goals. It’s important to make your goals realistic and obtainable, and not to burden yourself with too many goals.

Three is a good number of writing goals, not too few, not too many. Then under each goal you can list a few tasks that will you will do on a daily or weekly basis to help you reach your objectives.

In addition to creating and typing your goals down in a document, they need to be printed and kept visible. It’s important to put them somewhere you’ll be sure to notice on a daily basis. You might put your list on your computer, inside your laptop case, on top of your daily planner, on the inside of a kitchen cabinet you open everyday.

You get the idea, your writing goals need to be visible each and every day. Not just visible though, they need to be read each and every day.

Why is it important to keep your writing goals front and center?

Here’s another question to help answer that question: Did you ever hear the expression, ‘Out of sight, out of mind?’

That’s your answer.

On January 1st of ‘any year,’ you may tell yourself, and maybe even write it down, that you will:

1. Write a minimum of five pages of your new book each week.
2. Effectively market your published books.
3. Submit articles to three paying magazines on a monthly basis.

Okay, that’s great. But, suppose it’s now July and you haven’t even written 10 pages of your new book, and you haven’t gone past the very basics of promoting your published books.

What happened to your writing goals?

Easy. You didn’t keep your goals list front and center, so you got sidetracked.

While you may have had the best of intentions on January 1st, without keeping those writing goals visible, it’s difficult to stay on course.

Maybe you decided to add the writing of unrelated ebooks to your workload. Maybe you decided to do book reviews and started a critique group of your own. Maybe you devoted too much time to social networking and your online groups.

These additions may not necessarily be a bad thing, but before you continue on, ask yourself three questions:

1. Are these additions to your workload moving you in the direction of your major writing goals?
2. Are they actually keeping you from attaining your goals?
3. Are they providing some kind of income?

If your answers to these questions are NO, YES, NO, then you need to step back, redirect your steps, and get back on track. If you keep your writing goals front and center, you’ll be amazed at how you automatically work toward achieving them.

And, interestingly, it seems once you have that focus, the universe somehow aligns itself with you and things start falling into place.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Writers – 4 Power Tips to Breaking a Bad Habit
Traditional Publishing and the Author Platform – Be Realistic
Submitting Queries – Be Specific and Professional

Jan 01

New Year Wishes and Gifts

New Year's Wishes

Today is the first day of the rest of your life and the beginning of a new year – make it all it can be!

Karen Cioffi, Children’s Ghostwriter

To show my appreciation to my readers and subscribers, here are two useful gifts to help you achieve your goals in the New Year! Just click the link:

Achieve Your Goals with 3 Must-Have Psychological Assets

A Simple System to Achieve Your Goals

Dec 30

2016 Coming to a Close – 2017 Just Before Us, Bright and Shiny

The new year brings amazing things . . .

The New Year brings amazing things: opportunity for a fresh start, renewed hope, possibilities, and even new beginnings.

Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore, Dream, Discover.”

Make 2017 a year of action rather than procrastination.

To end 2016 and latch onto 2017, Below are 11 quotes I love and find inspirational. Hope you do too.

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”
~ Lyndon B. Johnson

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” ~ Wayne Gretzky

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.”  ~ Dale Carnegie

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” ~ Will Rogers

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
~ Christopher Columbus

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” ~ Stephen Covey

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” ~ Warren Buffet

“If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~ C.S. Lewis

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” ~ John C. Maxwell

HOPE THESE QUOTES HELP YOU THROUGHOUT THE NEW YEAR!