Dec 18

Writers – 4 Powerful Steps to Breaking Bad Habits

How to break a bad habit.

Habits are pretty much who you are.

Are you a positive thinker? Are you ambitious? Do you work hard? Are you a compulsive cleaner? Do you procrastinate? Do you fear jumping in?

Some of the items above are traits, but they are also habits created – they reflect your actions and reactions. They are part of the things you do each and every day, consciously or subconsciously.

Have a habit you don’t like? Or, one that is getting in the way of your writing success?

Well, you’re in luck.

According to WebMD, you can break bad habits in three easy steps.

1. Analyze the habit you’d like (need) to break.

Maybe, you spend too much time on social media, even if it’s to work it. If you’re not getting the ROI on your efforts, you need to change things.

Maybe, you don’t get enough writing in.

That story that’s been on the back burner is still there. You keep saying you’re going to get to it, but you keep procrastinating.

Or, maybe you need to write two articles a week for your blog, but barely manage to write one. Not for a real lack of time, more because you’re not prioritizing your work.

Maybe, you’re not using video as much as you should in your content marketing, simply because it’s easier not to.

Figure out what it is – put it in front of you. This strategy may help you change things for the better.

2. Write it down.

Actually writing things down adds another element or layer to the consciousness of the habit.

Psychologist James Claiborn, PhD, and the co-author of The Habit Change Workbook, explains, “Write out a list of the pros and cons of this behavior and keep a record of when you do it. Measurement of anything tends to change it and makes people much more aware in the first place.” (1)

This is similar to number 1, in that it allows you to analyze the habit.

3. Put a temp in.

Once you realize the’ whens and whys’ of a habit you want to break, try substituting another action in its place.

Suppose you drink two cans of soda day. Substitute one of the cans for a cup of water or naturally flavored seltzer. Once that’s working well, substitute the other can of soda with something healthier.

Or, suppose you spend 2 hours a day on social media. Time yourself. Stop at one hour. Then jump into writing something, whether it’s your story or a blog post.

4. Realize it may take a bit of time to break a habit.

This tip isn’t from WebMD, but it’s powerful.

According to Mark Twain, “A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time.”

I love this quote. In one sentence, it lets you know that habits can be broken, but it won’t be overnight. You need to persevere.

All of us have some habits we know we should overcome. Try these three tips and see if you can’t break at least one of your bad habits.

Source:
(1) http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/3-easy-steps-to-breaking-bad-habits

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Dec 11

6 Tips to Make the Most Out of Writing Workshops

Writing tipsGuest post by writing coach Suzanne Lieurance

Six Simple Ways to Make the Most of Any Writing Workshop or Writing Class

If you’ve recently signed up for a writing workshop or writing class, in the hopes of becoming a better writer, then follow these simple steps to make the most of that experience:

1) Read! Read! Read!

Before the very first class or workshop, survey ALL the class materials so you will get an idea of what to expect.

Most good writing classes (and workshops) will provide students with a wealth of helpful materials. But these materials won’t do you any good if you don’t bother to look at them. In fact, if you have time before the workshop starts, read as many of the materials as you can. You might not fully understand what you are reading. That’s okay. Learning is recursive – which means your understanding will increase each time you study or reread the information.

If you don’t have time to read the materials before the class begins, then at least look over all the materials beforehand. Also, besides the required course materials, if there are suggested additional materials, get those too. And read them!

Also, read the kinds of things you wish to write. If you want to write stories for children, READ stories for children. If you want to write culinary mysteries for adults, READ culinary mysteries for adults, etc.

SPECIAL NOTE: Also, realize this. If you don’t enjoy reading, then you probably won’t enjoy the work it takes to become a successful (by that I mean, published) writer. Published writers are like sponges – anxious to soak up any information about their craft that they can.

2) Carefully read the directions for each and every assignment and follow the directions TO THE LETTER.

I’m surprised that so many people pay for a writing course (like the one I taught for the Institute of Children’s Literature), yet a large number of these people don’t follow the directions for each assignment.

In some cases, it’s painfully evident that they didn’t even bother to READ the directions. What they need to understand is this – usually each assignment or lesson in a writing course or workshop was designed with specific objectives in mind. If the student doesn’t bother to read and follow the directions for each assignment, then the instructor has little chance of helping the student meet those objectives.

3) Avoid defending your work to your instructor.

Generally, students pay an instructor because he (or she) has some expertise and experience in writing, which usually includes many publishing credits. In fact, you should ALWAYS look for an instructor who has publishing credits. But then listen to what that instructor has to say about your writing, then follow his advice without trying to defend your work if it goes against what he has suggested.

Your instructor knows what he is talking about. For example, many times I tell students that in stories for children, adults should play very minor roles, and the child or teen in the story should always solve his own problem without a parent or other well-meaning adult stepping in to save the day. Many students want to argue that adults save the day for kids all the time in real life, so it should be okay that Aunt Martha calling at the last minute to offer little Janie the money she needs for summer camp is the perfect resolution for their story.

Sure, this kind of thing happens in real life. But, in stories for kids or teens, editors want the child to solve his own problem. Don’t waste precious time (yours or the instructor’s) arguing about something like this. Your understanding of WHY you should do what your instructor is asking you to do (or not do) will increase over time and study. Do what your instructor suggests, without defending your reason for going against his directions, and you’ll move ahead at a faster pace.

4) Learn to research all sorts of topics. In other words.

Don’t depend on instructors, editors, publishers, or anyone else to provide you with ALL the information you need in order to become a published writer.

Your instructor will probably give you research tips and marketing information, of course. But most published writers are self-directed learners. By that I mean, when they don’t KNOW something, they figure out HOW and WHERE to get the needed information themselves (more about how to do this, next).

5) Find other writers to network with and even hang out with, and read publications for writers.

Join a local writers’ group or at least sign up for one online (at yahoogroups.com you’ll find all sorts of groups for writers). Try to find a group that includes at least a few published writers. Generally, writers like to be helpful. They will usually share marketing tips, writing resources, etc. and will help you to more fully understand what you learn in a writing workshop or writing class.

Also, talk to some of the other writers in these groups to find out how they write. Then use some of their tips to improve your own writing, writing habits, etc. Hang out with the published writers and you’ll soon learn that they probably do a LOT of rewriting before they sell any of their work.

Read publications for writers to gain current marketing news and tips, and to find out how other writers became successful.

All these things will help give you the confidence to keep writing (and to keep practicing what you learn in your writing workshop or writing course) until you manage to get something published.

6) Don’t expect writing to be easy.

And, don’t assume that if it isn’t it must mean you don’t have enough talent to succeed as a writer, so you might as well drop out of the workshop or writing class.

Actually, most successful writers will tell you that talent isn’t the most important quality for success. The ability to follow directions (which will eventually come from an editor or editors) and the willingness to continue writing and rewriting, until at least some of the many rejection letters you get in the mail turn into acceptance letters, are much more important qualities for success as a writer. If you realize this BEFORE you start any writing workshop or writing course, you will be more likely to stick with it, even when the work gets difficult.

Suzanne Lieurance is an award-winning author and an experienced writing coach. For more writing tips and resources delivered to your e-mailbox every weekday morning, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge from Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer’s Coach.

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Need Help With Your Story

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn your 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

Nov 13

How to Write a Story

Writing tips

Today I have a guest post by a successful writer and writing coach, Suzanne Lieurance. She talks about what it takes to ‘write a story.’

Do you long to write stories but just can’t seem to get started?

That’s probably because you don’t understand the elements needed for any good story. Learn these elements and the writing process will be much easier.

EVERY GOOD STORY NEEDS:

1. An interesting main character with a problem to solve. Your main character needs to want something and want it so much he is willing to overcome all sorts of obstacles to get it. This character is your protagonist; the person readers will root for as he faces conflicts and complications.

2. An interesting setting. A good story needs to be set in a definite time and place and readers need to feel they are right there in this time and place with your characters. Use a variety of vivid sensory details to transport your readers to the time and place you’ve chosen as the setting for your story. But weave these details into the action as much as possible.

3. Conflict. Something or someone who gets in the way of the main character in his quest to get what he wants. The main character who creates this conflict is your antagonist. Keep in mind that this person shouldn’t be ALL bad. He should be flawed, of course, but if he’s all bad he won’t seem like a real person, he’ll be more like a caricature.

4. A series of complications. Things should keep getting worse and worse for the main character in his quest to get what he wants. These complications will create the dramatic tension and rising action for your story so readers will want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.

5. A culminating event that creates change. Something dramatic needs to occur that will change everything for your main chararacter. This event is the climax of your story or the solution. Your main character will either finally get what he is after or he will understand why it is not possible to get what he wants and he will have to make some sort of peace with that. Either way, your main character will no longer be the same person he was at the beginning of the story. He will have changed or grown somehow as a result of the conflicts and complications he faced. This change (or changes) will lead to a natural resolution as the ending for your tale.

Now, before you get started writing your own story, take some time to examine a few simple stories more closely for each of these elements. Fairy tales are good stories to use for this purpose.

For more writing tips and resources delivered to your e-mailbox every weekday morning, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge from Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer’s Coach.

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Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn your 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

Oct 23

Writing Skills – Spread Your Wings

Writing opportunitiesWriting has many different genres within the fiction and nonfiction realms. There are children’s, young adult, romance, mystery, fantasy, science fiction, poetry, memoirs, biographies, travel, health, food, magazine articles, business content, and much more.

It seems, most writers start off in one particular genre – with one particular set of skills. Often, they stay there. This may happen for a number of reasons, including:

– The genre is in their comfort zone.
– There’s an unwanted time element involved in learning a new writing style
– Fear stops them from venturing forward
– They just don’t think of the rest of the writing world around them.

Whatever the reason, the end result is that they may be missing out on another form of writing satisfaction and income. With today’s tight market, it only makes sense to take off the blinders and get the peripheral writing vision going.

For writers who are the children’s or article writing arena, contemplating writing a full length novel may feel overwhelming. It may feel impossible.

This is where you need to take a step back and think ‘simple.’

Rather than dismiss a project for fear it’s too big or because it’s out of your realm of expertise, think simple. Write blog posts on the subject, or possibly articles. You can also start with a short story if thinking about writing a novel makes you uneasy . . . maybe draft an outline.

Start small.

Don’t let the enormity of the project stop you—write one page at a time.

This philosophy goes for any new writing area you decide to step into. If the project itself feels too intimidating, think of it as a learning experience with nothing to lose. The new writing skills you learn will offset the time and effort invested.

It’s true that most writers only feel comfortable in one or two particular genres. It’s also true that they may excel in those genres, their areas of expertise. This is a powerful combination that will certainly keep writers from taking off the writing blinders.

But . . .

The writing arena is full of opportunities. Taking the time and effort to develop a new writing style will certainly be an asset in your writing career. If your piece is accepted and published, you will have another writing accomplishment to include in your writer’s resume, as well as another avenue of income.

There’s an expression: nothing ventured, nothing gained. Why not venture forth today and spread your writing wings.

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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 your 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

Oct 16

Writing Success – Know Your Intent

Intent is a crucial factor in success. But, what exactly does this mean?

According to Merriam-Webster, intent is an aim, a clear and “formulated or planned intention.” It is a purpose, “the act or fact of intending.”

Intent is a necessary factor on any path to success, including your path to writing success. You need to know what you want, what you’re striving for. And, that knowledge has to be clearly defined.

An unclear destination or goal is similar to being on a path that has very low hanging branches, an assortment of rocks that may hinder your forward movement, uneven and rugged terrain, branches and even logs strewn across the road; you get the idea. You kind of step over the debris, look around or through the branches, you don’t have a clear view of where you’re going.

A clear cut goal is akin to walking on a smooth and clear path. No goal related obstacles to hinder your forward momentum or vision.

But, let me add to the sentence above, while intent is crucial, it’s an active and passionate pursuit of your intent that will actually allow you to achieve success. It reminds me of a passage in the Bible at James 24:26, “Faith without works is dead.” While the intent is there, if you don’t actively take the needed steps to get from A to B, walk-the-walk, rather than just talk-the-talk, you’ll never reach your goal.

To realize your intent, it would be beneficial for you to create a list of questions and statements outlining the specifics to that intent.

A few of questions you might include are:

– What is your ultimate success goal?
– What does the obtainment of your goal mean?
– After picturing it, what does success look like to you?
– How will you reach your goal?

So, how would you answer these questions?

As a writer, perhaps your goal is to write for one or two major magazines. Maybe you’d prefer to be published in a number of smaller magazines. Possibly you want to author a book a year and have them published by traditional publishing houses. Or, maybe you want to self-publish your own books at a faster or slower pace.

Maybe success to you is to make a comfortable living, or you may be very happy with simply supplementing your income. Maybe you want to be a professional, sought after ghostwriter or copywriter. Maybe you want to be a coach, a speaker, offer workshops, or present webinars. These are some of the potential goals for a writer.

Whatever your vision of success is, you need to see it clearly, write it down (it’d be a good idea to also create a vision board), and take the necessary steps to get you where you want to be.

If you find you have a realistic success vision, and are taking the necessary steps to achieve your envisioned intent, at least you think you are, but you still can’t seem to reach the goal, then perhaps your efforts aren’t narrowly focused enough. Maybe your success vision is too broad. Wanting to be a writer is a noble endeavor, but it’s a very broad target and kind of like shooting a shotgun compared to shooting a rifle or gun. With a shotgun you may hit a broader target, but it won’t be with the effectiveness and direct force of a single shot aimed at a one focused target.

Try narrowing down, fine tuning your goal. Remember, it’s essential to be specific and focused.

It might be to your advantage to create success steps that continually move you forward on the path to reaching your ultimate goal.

For someone new to writing, the first step on a writing career would be to learn the craft of writing. You might give yourself a year or two to join writing groups, take advantage of writing workshops or classes, write for article directories, or create stories. You should also be part of at least one critique group. This would be your first step to achieving your intent, your success vision.

Instead of trying to go directly from A to B, it might be more effective to go from A to A1 to A2 to A3 . . . to B. But, again, for each step, the intent, a clear-cut vision, and the driving passion all need to be front and center.

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Oct 02

Fiction Writing – 5 Top No-Nos

Watch out for these fiction writing No-Nos

Fiction writers who are good at what they do, enjoy what they do. They like creating something from nothing . . . well from an idea. They enjoy the craft and the process.

But, with that said, there are 5 top mistakes these writers make.

1. You make the beginning of your story all roses.

While we’d all love to live in a peaceful, happy land, readers need something to sink their teeth into, especially at the beginning of the story.

The beginning of your story is the hook. It’s where you GRAB the reader and make her have to turn the page and want to know what’s going to happen to the protagonist.

Here are a couple of examples of ‘hooking’ beginnings:

“I have noticed that teachers get exciting confused with boring a lot. But when my teacher said, ‘Class, we have an exciting project to talk about,’ I listened away.”
“The Talented Clementine” by Sara Pennypacker.

“My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.”
“Because of Winn-Dixie” by Kate DiCamillo

These two examples of children’s writing give you a good idea of what it takes to ‘hook’ the reader.

2. The dialog is weak, fluffy.

Having weak dialog can kill your story. You need your characters to have passion . . . to have life.

You want dialog that is strong and tight. You want the emotion (the conflict, the tension, the passion) to come through the words. And, you want to say it in as few words and as realistically as possible.

You want the reader to feel what the character is feeling at that moment.

If Bob is angry in the story, show it through his dialog:

“WHAT! Who said you could take that?!”
“Hey! What are you doing?!”
“No! You can’t. Now get lost.”
“Get your hands off of me!”

The tight, strong dialog goes for exchanges also:

“Hey! What are you doing?!” Bob yelled.

Gia spun around. “Oh, ugh, nothing.” Her eyes darted to the door then back to Bob.

3. The story is predictable.

You’ve got to have some surprises in the story. If you don’t, it will make for a rather dull, predictable story.

For this aspect of your story, think questions.

– Why is the character in that situation?
– How did he get there?
– What must she be feeling, seeing?
– How can see get out of it?
– What might happen next?

Try to come up with four or five options as to what might happen next.

In an article at Writer’s Digest, the author advises to “Close your eyes and watch your scene unfold. Let the characters improvise. What are some outlandish things that could result? If something looks interesting, find a way to justify it.” (1)

Let your imagination run wild.

4. Your characters are one-dimensional.

For readers to become engaged in a story, they have to develop a connection with the protagonist and other characters. In order for this to happen, the characters must be multi-dimensional.

Characters need to be believable and unique. You don’t want them to be predictable or a stereotype.

According to “Breathing Life into Your Characters” by Rachel Ballon, Ph.D., “The essential components for creating successful characters with emotional and psychological depth—feelings, passion, desires, psychology, and vision—reside within [the writer].”

So, think about it. What conditions or characteristics does your character have?

– Does he have a personality disorder?
– Does he have phobias?
– Is she dysfunctional?
– Is she a troublemaker or bully?
– Is he anxious?
– Does she have an eating disorder?
– Is she fearful?
– Is she a risk taker, fearless?

And, keep in mind that the more stressful an ‘inciting incident’ or event, the more reaction and/or adjustment there will be.

For example: If a child lost a pet, it wouldn’t be as severe as losing a parent.
If a woman became separated from her husband, it wouldn’t be as severe as having her husband suddenly die.

So, using your experiences and innate characteristics, along with research, you can create multi-faceted characters.

5. You dump information into the story.

This is more of a mistake that new writers may make. I had a client who created the entire first paragraph of her middle-grade story with ‘information dump.’

She had the protagonist talking to a stuffed animal, in a pretend interview. She gave backstory and other details she wanted to convey to the reader through the interview. She didn’t realize that this information needed to be layered or weaved into the story, not dumped in one big truck load.

You might also use a prologue to give backstory.

While there are other things to watch for in fiction writing, these are five of the top no-nos.

Reference:
(1) 5 Biggest Fiction Writing Mistakes and Fixes

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700.

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable and marketable story today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

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Sep 25

Build Confidence as a Writer – 12 Ways To Do It

Do you need confidence as a writer?

Guest post by Suzanne Lieurance

It’s tough being a writer, especially if you’re just starting out.

Rejection can easily tear down what little self-confidence you have, so here are a dozen ways to build your confidence as a writer:

1. Do Something First Thing Every Morning That Makes You Feel Good About Yourself.

It might even make you feel powerful. Go for a jog, do some exercises, take a shower and get dressed even if you won’t be leaving the house all day. Clean your office, put flowers on your desk. Do one small thing that celebrates YOU.

2. Expect to Be Successful.

Once you do, make sure that every thought, statement, and action reflects that expectation all day long.

Another thing to consider: What someone says about you can help you create a totally different and new expectation for yourself – so get a friend to write out a positive statement about you. Then notice how you strive to LIVE according to that statment every day.

Eliminate the self-doubt and negative thoughts in your head. Also, monitor the statements you make to others.

Avoid statements that begin with:

I can’t…

I don’t…

I’m stressed…

I’ll try, but….

I have to…

3. Focus on others instead of yourself.

As a writer, who is your reader? Who is your customer? How can you serve this customer and how can you get better and better at serving him?

When you’re out of the house, make a point to give a stranger or a friend or relative a compliment. Focus on them. Ask them about their day. When someone asks you how you are or are things are going, immediately say “GREAT” and believe it!

4. Don’t think about success too much.

If you do, you’re actually thinking about failure, not success. Failure is about doubt and worry and stress. Success is about letting go, going with the flow, feeling vibrant, excited, and full of energy.

When you expect success, you can begin to focus on the actions you must take rather than wallowing in self-doubt over the actions you have already taken. Just keep taking action.

5. Avoid living, thinking, and working in a panic mode.

This is when negative statements creep into your head and your language that do not serve you or others well.

6. Don’t compare yourself to others.

You are unique. It might take you 10 years to accomplish something someone else did in 2 years, but so what? Maybe you will learn so much more along the way than that other person did.

7. Realize that GOD, the universe (whatever it is you believe controls the world) wants each of us to succeed because when we succeed we serve the world in greater and deeper ways.

Faith is not so much about faith in God as it is faith in the divinity within you. Trust yourself to be able to handle anything you need to handle, to be able to do anything you need to do when, and if, you need to do it. But don’t spend time worrying or even thinking about this ahead of time.

8. Fake it till you make it.

Act confident even if you don’t really feel that way at first. Make it a game. But haven’t you ever noticed that the people who are truly the MOST confident are not arrogant? In fact, some of the most confident people are the most gentle people you will ever meet.

9. Don’t be ruled by your ego.

If someone does something you don’t like, or says something to you that you find insulting, practice relaxing and let it flow right through you.

10. At the end of each day, make a list of the things you did that day that you are proud of.

This could be simple things like folding the laundry, making dinner, or writing one scene of your novel.

11. Every morning, be grateful for another exciting day full of pleasant possibilities.

12. Be sure you hang around successful, positive people.

Use this list today to start building your confidence as a writer. You can do it. Try it!

For more writing tips and resources delivered to your e-mailbox every weekday morning, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge from Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer’s Coach.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

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Need Help With Your Story

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn your 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

LIKE THIS POST? PLEASE SHARE!

Sep 18

Writing – 6 Essential Steps to Publication

Writing for publication

There are a number of articles and posts discussing whether it’s important to have a degree in writing in order to be successful in your writing career. The articles that I’ve read all agree that it is not necessary. But, there are at least 6 essential steps you will need to take to reach the golden ring of traditional publication.

The first three steps are important to both traditional and self-publishing!

1.  Learn the craft of writing

While it’s not essential to have a degree in writing, it is essential that you learn the craft.

You can obtain this knowledge through a number of avenues, such as:

a.    Become a part of a coaching program or club. Just make sure the instructor or coach has the necessary credentials to teach or guide.
b.    Research blogs and sites that offer instructional articles on the genre you are writing in. You can also find articles through the article directories.
c.    Attend writing conferences. Even if you can’t go in person, or can’t afford to go, there are a number of free online conferences that offer great workshops, networking, and even pitches to publishers. One such conference is the Muse Online Writers Conference.
d.    Join a critique group that has new and experienced writers. Critique groups are a great way to learn the ropes. The experienced writers will provide a kind of one-on-one tutoring. Through the critiques you receive you’ll begin to notice your common errors and how to correct them. Through the critiques you give, you’ll be able to pick up on errors much quicker. All this will help you to hone your craft and become a confident writer.
e.    Read books about writing, self-editing, and books in the genre you are writing. Study these books.

2. Write and keep writing

Remember the old expression, ‘practice makes perfect.’ It’s important to make time to write every week, whether it’s daily or specific days, or even if you have to squeeze it into your schedule. The more you write, the more comfortable you will feel about writing.

3. Read your work, proofread your work, self-edit your work, revise your work…repeat

This is where you apply the information you’ve reaped from Step 1. After you think it’s ‘really’ good, submit it to your critique group. Then repeat Step 3. When you think it’s perfect you’re ready for Step 4.

4. Submit your work

In this step you can take two paths:

a.    Submit your work to an experienced editor. This is the path almost all writers will advise you to take. The editor is trained to spot things that you and you’re critique group will not. Yes, it will be an expense, but there are some reasonable and experienced editors out there that you can take advantage of.
b.    If you cannot afford an editor, be sure to carefully read a book about self-editing, print your manuscript out and go over it with a fine tooth comb. When you feel confident that it’s as good as you can get it, start submitting it to publishing companies and/or agents.

5. Read publishers’ guidelines carefully

Along with reading them carefully, you need to follow them carefully. Publishers have more submissions than they can handle, if your submission doesn’t meet their guidelines it would be highly unlikely it will avoid the trash pile.

5A. Do your self-publishing research

If you’re self-publishing and aren’t sure how to get your book published and distributed, do some research. A lot of these companies offer packages so be careful. Find out exactly what they’ll be doing for you. And, be leery of marketing packages. Usually they’re a waste of money. You’re better off learning the marketing ropes yourself and jumping in.

6. Persevere

It’s not necessarily the best writer who gets published and has a successful writing career…it’s the writer who perseveres. Writing can be a long and arduous road and is usually filled with a great deal of rejection. But, if you work toward your goal, learn your craft, and keep moving forward, you have what it takes to become published.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Why Hiring a Ghostwriter for Your Children’s Book is a Good Idea
Writing to Get Published – 5 Power Tips
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, rewriter, and editor. I can turn your 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

Sep 11

Writing with Focus

Why is focus so important?

You have a wonderful idea for a story. Maybe it’s a mystery novel, a children’s middle grade story, or a picture book. Maybe it’s a young adult. You know what you want to say, or convey, and you start typing away. This is the beginning of every story.

But, we should backtrack a moment and go back to the idea. The idea: your protagonist has a problem or conflict. Delving a little deeper, you can see how each chapter or section will be worked out.

You are sure you can bring your idea to full fruition—without the use of an outline. Okay, that’s fine. Many writers use the by-the-seat-of-your-pants (pantser) writing method. So, off your mind and fingers fly . . . creating something from nothing . . . well, not exactly from nothing, from an idea.

This is the beginning.

You type a draft of your story. How long this process will take depends on how long your manuscript will be—whether a novel, short story, or children’s story. Take note though . . . even if your story is as short as a children’s picture book, you still need focus in your writing.

Writing Focus

Focus is the path from point A to point B. It’s the path from beginning to end that keeps the story together and wraps it neatly up.

An example might be an ice skater whose goal is to become good enough to get into the Olympics. His focus will be to train vigorously to accomplish his goal.

Another example might be that of a school bus on its route to pick up children and bring them to school. The shop is where the bus begins, point A; it will end up at the school, point B. But, between point A and point B, the bus must deviate from the direct path to pick up each child.

The same holds true for your story. There is a path the story needs to follow to accomplish its goal. If you deviate too much from this path your story becomes diluted or weak. This is not to say you cannot have subplots, it means everything needs to be tied together moving forward on the same path toward the same end.

Using an outline can often help with maintaining focus, even with a short story. It’s kind of a writing GPS that guides you from point A to point B. It allows you to stray here and there with the comfort of knowing that you need to be at certain points throughout the manuscript. It’s a reminder to keep you focused.

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MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Writing to Get Published – 5 Power Tips
The Author Website – Keep It Simple and to the Point
Writing a Book – To Traditionally Publish or To Self-Publish

Aug 28

Submitting Queries – Be Specific and Professional

Be specific and professional when submitting queriesAll writers face the dreaded query. Did I put enough information? Did I put too much? Did I have a great hook? Am I submitting to the right publisher or agent?

These are just a few questions that run through a writer’s mind when mailing or clicking the send button for the query. So, how do you answer these questions and the many others that go along with the job of crafting a query?

Well, the first simple response to this question is to READ the publisher’s or agent’s guidelines.
Okay, that’s not accurate-you need to STUDY and FOLLOW those guidelines precisely.

Items to watch for when reading those guidelines:

1. What genre does that particular publishing house, agent, or magazine publish?

2. Does the publisher/agent accept simultaneous submissions?

3. Is there a specific word count involved if querying for articles?

4. Does the publishing house accept unagented queries?

5. Does the magazine only accept specific themes, if so, is your article on target?

This list is not complete, there are obviously more items to watch out for. So, we go back to the main rule for querying: FOLLOW the GUIDELINES!

But, following the guidelines is just part of the querying process; you also need to know some inclusion essentials.

Six rules to use that will help you create a winning query:

1. Be professional. Writing is a business just like any other – it’s important to treat it as such.

2. Be sure to include your contact information: address, telephone number, email address and website.

3. If you were referred by someone, include it in the query. Every little bit helps, but be sure it’s a referral from someone the editor actually knows.

4. Write tight – be specific and jump right in. You want to provide enough information to motivate the editor to want more, but you need to keep it to one page.

5. The first paragraph is explaining that you’ve visited the company’s website and found they are accepting your genre. Or, you might simple state that you are submitting your manuscript for her review.

In this paragraph you can include the genre and the word count. And, it’d be a good idea to mention a published book that it might be similar to.

EXAMPLE:

Dear [Editor’s Name],

I’d like to introduce my 15,000 word fantasy chapter book, WALKING THROUGH WALLS, for your consideration. It is in the flavor of A SINGE SHARD by Linda Sue Park.

6. The second paragraph is the pitch. Within a couple of sentences you need to hook the editor or agent. Give a brief description of the story – just the essentials.

EXAMPLE of a first sentence for this paragraph:

In 16th century China, Wang works in the rice fields with his father, but this is not the life he wants.

In just one sentence, the time period is established along with the setting and conflict.

7. The third paragraph is about you. Again, keep it brief and include your credentials. Limit personal information unless it adds to your credentials as a writer qualified to write for this publisher or agent.

This is also the place you’ll briefly mention your marketing platform.

I had a client, who at the time she was querying agents, had around 45,000 Facebook followers and around 15,000 Instagram followers. She also had a website. These are things that are definitely worth mentioning!

Publishers and agents appreciate when authors already have an author platform up and running. In fact, if a contract is between ‘platformless’ you and another author who is equally qualified, but does have a platform in place, guess who’ll get that contract.

8. The fourth paragraph is your conclusion. Thank the editor/agent for his time and mention if you are enclosing a SASE (self-addressed and stamped envelope) and if the query is a simultaneous submission.

A good way to practice for queries and pitches is to write a one sentence ‘out of the ball park’ description of your manuscript. This will help you to think and write tight and choose the perfect words to hook the reader and convey the essence of your story.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Self-Publishing: 3 Tips to Help You Avoid the ‘I Want It Now Syndrome’
Writing Rhyme in Children’s Stories
Is Your Manuscript Ready for Submission?

Need Help With Your Story

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

Just send 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

A version of this article was originally published by Karen Cioffi at:
http://EzineArticles.com/?id=3836899