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

Jul 17

Self-Publishing: 3 Tips to Help You Avoid the ‘I Want It Now Syndrome’

(What’Writing and the I Want It Now syndromes a ‘Wannabe’ Author to Do?)

Self-publishing is a ship everyone wants to sail on. And, for good reason. This publishing avenue is quick and cheap.

Yes, self-publishing is fast. There’s no more submitting to a publisher or multiple publishers and waiting for (possibly) months for a response. Will they accept your manuscript that you’ve been working on for months, maybe years? Or, will they send you a generic standard rejection letter? Either way, the time waiting for an acceptance or rejection isn’t fun. With self-publishing, as soon as your manuscript is ready to go, it goes.

There are lots and lots of places to publish an ebook. And, you can publish with more than one service. And, you can sell that ebook right from your own site. That’s pretty convenient.

In addition to being a quick process, ebooks are cheap to create and publish. If you do everything yourself (aside from editing), it will cost nothing. In the event you need help, services like Fiverr have people who will help you for a very, very reasonable price.

But . . .

While it’s obvious to see the benefits to self-publishing, these benefits have one drawback in particular: everyone thinks they can write a book and self-publish it, whether or not they have the skills to write a book and whether or not it’s a quality product.

Part of the problem, possibly the main problem, is the ‘I want it now’ syndrome that self-publishing lends itself to. New authors don’t want to take the longer ‘proven’ road of learning the craft of writing and having their manuscript edited before publishing.

This ‘problem’ does all authors a disservice. It lessens the validity of self-published books as a whole. Readers (buyers) never know if the book they’re buying was done professionally or if it was carelessly slapped together.

So, what’s the solution?

Well, there are three basic strategies to use when thinking of writing a book and self-publishing:

1. Learn the craft of writing.

The first thing a ‘wannabe’ author needs to do is learn the craft of writing. This isn’t to say you must get a MFA, but you should take writing courses. There are some online courses that are free. And, you should belong to writing groups.

Along with this, you should actually be writing. Practice does make better.

Finally, you’ve got to read and read and read in the genre you want to write and in lots of other genres also. You especially want to read recently traditionally published books.

This will help you get an idea of what publishers are looking for, what quality work is being published, and how it’s written.

2. Join a critique group.

The second thing is for the author to join a genre appropriate critique group. Having your manuscript critiqued by others helps with grammar, clarity, story line, characters . . . you get the idea. Critique groups help you write your book. Those extra eyes will catch things in your manuscript that you glaze over.

3. Hire an editor.

The third thing the author should do, after the manuscript is as ‘good’ as she can get it, is to find a reputable editor and have it edited. It’s easy for an author to think she’s found all the errors in her manuscript, but in actuality, this is almost impossible to do. As the author, you’re much too close to the work to see it fresh and with unbiased eyes.

Self-publishing is an amazing opportunity for authors, but it needs to be done responsibly. Authors need to take the readers and the industry into consideration when venturing into it.

Instead of being one of the “I want it now” authors, be one of the ‘I want it, but am willing to work toward it’ authors.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Focus, Determination, and Perseverance = Writing Success
4 Realities New Writers Need to Face
The One Sentence Pitch for Your Manuscript
How Do You Build a Successful Writing Career? (3 Tips)

This article was originally published by Karen Cioffi at:
http://www.karencioffiwritingandmarketing.com/2013/07/self-publishing-3-tips-to-help-you.html

Jun 26

The Writing Elements Mix – Is There a Right Balance?

Elements in writing.Writing can be thought of as a recipe, a handful of plot, a quarter cup of setting, a half cup of dialogue, and a half cup of action and forward movement. Then you also need to add just the right amount of theme, character, setting, and style. Stir it all together and bake for several months (might be longer, depending on your oven), and that’s it.

Ah, if it were only that simple.

Today, there are a number of rules to writing that didn’t plague writers years ago when the world was slower and people actually had time to sit and read at a leisurely pace. Writers had the luxury of setting scenes in detail and didn’t have to worry about ‘telling’ too much.

Now, publishers want your story to begin with a BAM. Grab the reader right away or you’ll lose her. And, it’s important that setting and telling are limited. In addition, don’t forget to magically weave backstory for your characters seamlessly into the mix.

So, what is the right balance of writing elements that will create a successful story?

Well, there really isn’t a pat formula. Each story will call for its own particular amounts of elements, and each publisher will have her own set of rules that the author must adhere to. But there are certain basics that all stories must contain.

The five basic elements of a story are:

Plot: The arrangement of circumstances and/or events in the story, including conflicts and resolution.

Character: Without the main character and supporting characters the plot is useless. It is the character’s struggle to overcome the conflicts or obstacles in his path that gives the plot life.

Setting: This element includes the physical backdrop of the story, the time period and location.

Atmosphere or Tone: The mood, including the setting, characters and their clothing, weather, and other elements within the story, determines the tone of the story.

Style: The author’s way of expressing herself is the style. Sentence structure, diction, choice of words, point of view, imagery, and symbols are all means of conveying a story that is unique to the author.

In regard to the amounts or balance of each element, the objective is to create a story that continually moves forward toward a satisfying conclusion while holding the reader’s attention. You can have a plot driven story or a character driven story. You can also have a story with a lot of dialogue, but you need to be sure the story is focused, coherent, and engaging.

Often, as you self-edit your own work, you won’t be able to see if the elements are just right; you should have it critiqued and have an editor take a look at it to see if you’re on the mark. And, then after all that, it will be up to the publisher’s acquisition editor to give the final say on whether you have just the right balance of writing elements for a successful story.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Getting to Know Your Characters
Plot and Your Story – Four Formats
Make Your Children’s Writing Website Focused – 3 Must-Haves, 6 Tips

Apr 03

Writing – Let Tom Swift Guide You

Learn the craft of writingGuest Post by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Ever heard of Tom Swifties?

Maybe you’re too young to be familiar with the classic Tom Swift adventures for boys. Or maybe you’re a girl who never read a Tom Swift book nor cares to.

Tom Swifties are one-line jokes lampooning the style of Victor Appleton, the author of the original Tom Swift books. People started making jokes about his overuse of adverbs and the unnecessary taglines he wrote into his dialogue. Like the Polish jokes, they were so much fun that that a whole series of them became available for the pun-loving. The author of these classics, of course, laughed all the way to the bank. But that’s a lesson for one of my marketing seminars, not this article on writing.

Tom Swifties were then. This is now. I haven’t dared to go to the new books in the series but I assume that this outdated writing has been eliminated from them.

You’ll want to minimize tags and adverbs in your writing, too!

An example from one of the Swift books will suffice to let you know what to watch for.

(Thank you to Roy Peter Clark for the example.)

“‘Look!’ suddenly exclaimed Ned. “There’s the agent now! I’m going to speak to him!” impulsively declared Ned.’

Even authors who swear that adverbs are always very, very good things to use and are reluctant to give up their clever taglines can see how, well . . . .awful this is. In fact, I have to reassure people the quotation is real! Some of the writing that comes to the desks of agents and editors looks almost as bad. Here’s how you can make sure yours doesn’t:

1. Use taglines only when one is necessary for the reader to know who is speaking.

2. Almost always choose “he said” or “she said” over anything too cute, exuberant or wordy like “declared” and “exclaimed.”

3. Cut the “ly” words ruthlessly, not only in dialogue tags but everywhere. You will find specific techniques for strengthening your writing in the process of eliminating adverbs in The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. This book will also give you some computer tricks for making these edits easy.

The Frugal Editor is available for sale on Amazon.com. Until you get the book, you don’t have to know the reasons or the techniques for making the “ly” and tagline edits easy. As Nike is fond of saying, “Just do it!”
—–

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, award-winning author of The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. The former is the winner of USA Book News “Best Professional Book” award and the Book Publicists of Southern California’s coveted Irwin Award. Learn more at http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

8 Top Fiction Writing Mistakes to Avoid
Storytelling – Don’t Let the Reader Become Disengaged
Writing for Children – Character Believability and Conflict

Need Help With Your Story

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. I can turn you story into an engaging and publishable book – one you’ll be proud to be author of.

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