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1. Wednesday Writing Workout: Characterization (Encore Presentation)

As a follow-up to last Friday's Guest TeachingAuthor Interview with Sherry Shahan, I'm repeating the Wednesday Writing Workout she shared with us in July 2014. After reading this post, I'm sure you'll want to enter for a chance to win a copy of Sherry's Skin and Bones (A. Whitman), if you haven't already entered the contest.

Sherry's young adult novel is a quirky story set in an eating disorder unit of a metropolitan hospital. The main character “Bones” is a male teen with anorexia. He falls desperately in love with an aspiring ballerina who becomes his next deadly addiction.

The novel was inspired by a short story Sherry wrote years ago, “Iris and Jim.” It appeared in print eight times worldwide. Her agent kept encouraging her to expand “Iris and Jim” into a novel. Easy for her to say!

                                                               *          *           *

Wednesday Writing Workout 
Tell It Sideways
by Sherry Shahan

During the first draft of Skin and Bones I stumbled over a number of unexpected obstacles. How could I give a character an idiosyncratic tone without sounding flippant? Eating disorders are serious, and in too many instances, life-threatening. 

Sometimes I sprinkled facts into farcical narration. Other times statistics emerged through dialogue between prominent characters—either in an argument or by using humor. Either way, creating quirky characters felt more organic when their traits were slipped in sideways instead of straight on.

There are endless ways to introduce a character, such as telling the reader about personality:
"Mrs. Freeman could never be brought to admit herself wrong on any point." —      Flannery O'Connor, "Good Country People."
Or by detailing a character’s appearance:
"The baker wore a white apron that looked like a smock. Straps cut under his arms, went around in back and then to the front again, where they were secured under his heavy waist ."   —Raymond Carver "A Small, Good Thing"
The art of creating fully realized characters is often a challenge to new writers of fiction. As a longtime teacher I’ve noticed:

1.) Writers who use short cuts, such a clichés, which produce cardboard or stereotypical characters.
2.) Writers who stubbornly pattern the main character after themselves in a way that’s unrealistic.
3.) Writers who are so involved in working out a complicated plot that their characters don’t receive enough attention.

In Skin and Bones I let readers get to know my characters though humorous dialogue. This technique works best when characters have opposing viewpoints. 

Consider the following scene. (Note: Lard is a compulsive over-eater; Bones is anorexic.)

“I’ll never buy food shot up with hormones when I own a restaurant,” Lard said. “Chicken nuggets sound healthy enough, but they have more than three dozen ingredients—not a lot of chicken in a nugget.”

Bones put on rubber gloves in case he’d have to touch something with calories. “Can’t we talk about something else?”

“That’s the wrong attitude, man. Don’t you want to get over this shit?”

“Not at this particular moment, since it’s almost lunch and my jaw still hurts from breakfast.”

Lard shook his head. “I’m glad I don’t live inside your skin.”

“It’d be a little crowded.”

Exercise #1: Choose a scene from a work-in-progress where a new character is introduced. (Or choose one from an existing novel.) Write a paragraph about the character without using physical descriptions. Repeat for a secondary character.

Exercise #2: Give each character a strong opinion about a subject. Do Nice Girls Really Finish Last? Should Fried Food Come With a Warning? Make sure your characters have opposing positions. Next, write a paragraph from each person’s viewpoint.

Exercise #3: Using the differing viewpoints, compose a scene with humorous dialogue. Try not to be funny just for humor’s sake. See if you can weave in a piece 
of factual information (Lard’s stats. about Chicken Nuggets), along with a unique character trait (Bones wearing gloves to keep from absorbing calories through his skin.)

I hope these exercises help you think about characterization in a less conventional way. Thanks for letting me stop by!
Sherry
www.SherryShahan.com

Readers, if you haven't already done so, head on over to Friday's post and enter for a chance to win your own autographed copy of  Skin and Bones (A. Whitman).

Good luck and Happy writing!
Carmela

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2. देश और मैं


देश की भक्ति करते है, हम देश भक्त कहलाते है,
चुन लेते है काँटों को जो, तो पल पल हम कहराते है,

एक बूँद पसीने की अपनी, सोने चाँदी से प्यारी है,
जब गिरते है हम गड्ढे में, उसपर इल्ज़ाम लगाते है,

सब चाहे सूरज और तारे, जैसे आकाश हमारा हो,
जब चुनने की आए बारी, सब कब्र में ही सो जाते है,

धाराए अनेक है बहती सी, पर मिल ना पाते है हम तुम, 
जो कहराते है दुख से हम, खुद की तब शान जताते है, 

यह देश नही बस उनका है, हम भी रहते है 'ए-जालिम',
करने की जब बारी आए, दूजे को राम बताते है || 

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3. Illustrator Interview – Maral Sassouni

I connected with Maral on Facebook because I swoon at her artwork and because she is a huge Francophile like me. She is relatively new to children’s books, but her work has been well received: selected in Society of Illustrators (Illustrators … Continue reading

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4. Photo: Pause

9865894413_b7b19fc318_b

Slow down.

Savor the little moments.

Turn off the distractions.

Listen.

What do you hear?

What do you see?

Breathe.

Appreciate.

We took this photo in a Vancouver park while we were waiting to board our cruise ship to Alaska. Kevin took this photo because he’s way better at spotting abstract moments than I am.


Filed under: Cruise 13

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5. Would You Read It Wednesday #159 - The Trouble With Homework (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor

Wait til you hear how forethoughtful I'm being!

Seriously.  You are NOT going to believe it.

It's Sunday night.  SUNDAY.  And I am putting the finishing touches on this post which isn't due to go up until Wednesday!

Wednesday is like 2 1/2 entire days from now!

I don't think this has ever happened before in the history of my blog!

Don't worry.

You're in the right place.

I have not been possessed by aliens or anything.  (Of course, I would probably say that if I had been, wouldn't I? Because they'd make me... But I'm pretty sure I haven't!)

It's just that the weatherperson in these parts seems pretty convinced that we're going to be getting heavy snow - at least a foot - maybe 3 - and that means, in all probability, that I will have no internet.  So my usual operating procedure of finishing my Wednesday post 37 seconds before it's due to go up may not pan out well.  And I don't want today's pitcher to miss her day!

PLUS!  We have not one, but TWO Straight From The Editors to share - always educational AND fun - so I wouldn't want you to miss that either.  Or the most important part of the post... Something Chocolate :)

Black Magic Cake

Yummmmm!  Scrumptious!!

I know how you all count the hours until Wednesday for your chocolate treat, so far be it from me to deprive you! :)  I would never want it to be said that I don't take good care of you!

Alrighty!  Now that we're fortified, let's see what the editor has to say!

Straight From The Editor for October:

You will recall Michelle's winning pitch:

Miss Knaffle and her second graders all just want to have fun at school. But when her students take theiridea of fun too far—conducting a farting symphony during reading time, smuggling coffee beans to the class hamster, and using their desks for a bubblegum sculpture contest—Miss Knaffle decides that only a field trip to the zoo will avert classroom disaster. Once there, the canny teacher enlists irritable zoo animals to her cause. When Fátima tangles with a snake and Mario ends up on the wrong side of a baboon, the students quickly come to appreciate the zoo rules—and their teacher—in a whole new way.

Here are editor Erin Molta's comments:

This is so cute! My only suggestion is to be more specific about the zoo incidents like Fatima tangles with a snake because she did what? You are specific about the farting symphony (hilarious!) and the coffee beans to the hamster so we need to see the zoo side, too—at least one. I’d omit the bubblegum sculpture contest to fit in more specific zoo incidents.
Straight From The Editor for November:

Here is Heather's winning pitch:

The harpsichord is dusted, the tea is poured, the vases are arranged on doily laces, and Hubert the pug is settled calmly on the rug. Lottie Dobson is ready for her fancy luncheon party. But when the members of the Grandview Rose Society arrive with even more blooms, poor Hubert's allergies kick in. What happens next is a riot of mishaps that gets him banned from the room. But when a wily rat sneaks in, steals the cheese, and dangles from the chandelier, it sends the proper party guests on a crazy chase--with a sneezing Hubert in the lead. One big sneeze will save the day! Too bad for Hubert, the sneezing doesn't end there. 

And here are Erin's comments:

Cute! The only problem I saw with it was that why wouldn’t Hubert be allergic to the roses that are already there? Would more make that much of a difference? I think Hubert’s allergies should be a new issue—a surprise, so to speak. And then be specific about at least one of the mishaps. Otherwise, it’s very fun and sounds like a delight!
As always, I find Erin's comments insightful and helpful!  I hope they help you in your mission to create the perfect pitch!

Today's pitch comes to us from Maria.  Maria is an educator with the best job in the world – she works as a Fire & Life Safety Educator for a municipal fire department! When she isn’t teaching others how to be safe, she can be found writing under a pecan tree, playing with her dogs and cats, or cruising around town with the top down searching for inspirational ideas or the next big story.

Here is her pitch:

Working Title: The Trouble With Homework
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 6-9)
The Pitch: What’s a kid to do when he’s waited until the lastminute to do his homework? Sometimes, you just have to improvise!

Join Connor along with his zany classmates as they prepare (some more than others) for their first-ever demonstration speeches.  Follow Connor’s speech outline and you, too, can show others what skills and talents you have.
Disclaimer: No snails or house cats were harmed in the making of this book! 

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Maria improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in June so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Maria is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to getting my internet back so I can catch up on everything I've missed!  It should be back this morning, but we shall see... (Of course, I'm just assuming... because it's SUNDAY! so I don't know yet what will happen!)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone, and for everyone who lives on the East Coast, I hope you all weathered the storm okay!!!

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6. TURNING PAGES: I'LL MEET YOU THERE, by HEATHER DEMITRIOS

out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase each otherdoesn’t make any sense. - RumiThere's a... Read the rest of this post

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7. Child Poets - Clementine Beauvais

‘The ink was in the baby, he was bound to write a tale

So he wrote the first of stories with his little fingernail’

Nathalia Crane was nine years old when, in 1924, she wrote ‘The First Story’ and many other poems, published in a collection called The Janitor’s Boy. She was one of many child poets in the 1920s, which saw a spate of precocious poetry and prose in the UK and the US. In the 19th century already, a cult of poetic precocity in children had erupted with the rediscovered works of Marjory (/Marjorie) Fleming, a little Scottish girl who wrote everyday from the age of six and conveniently died before she was nine, in 1811 - embodying forever the vision of glorious, pure and doomed childhood genius for the Victorians (this is a great article on the subject)

a rather haunting sketch of Marjorie Fleming by (?)Isa Keith
I’m currently looking at those works by child poets and at the adult discourse which developed around them, and it’s fascinating to see the extent to which such works were simply not allowed to be on their own: they were relentlessly explained, explored, excused, by the adults who read, published and critiqued them (another great article).
We get, of course, the usual amount of ‘how cute they are!’, and the associated Romantic claims that they were ‘close to nature’, ‘close to God’, ‘close to universal truth’. Not coincidentally, references to classics of children’s literature recur when critics analyse those poems: they talk of Alice in Wonderland and Rudyard Kipling, and James Matthew Barrie prefaced a novel by nine-year-old Daisy Ashford. This was around the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of children’s literature, at a time when children and childhood already had cult status; the verbal abilities of the precocious poets gave hope that their word might be interpreted, and ‘teach’ adults about the beyondness to which childhood supposedly had access.
But those poets were also thought of as dramatically unstructured and lacking technical skill. In 1926, an academic reviews ‘some child poets’ and gives Marjorie Fleming the kind of review anyone would cringe to see written about oneself:
‘An affectionate little soul, with a real joy in nature, and a strangely precocious taste for books, she found her surroundings prosy, though her heart expressed itself in bursts of pitifully inadequate song.’
He goes on to expose Marjorie Fleming’s ‘limitations’ by indicating that she often invents words to make up for a lack of rime (heaven forbid!) and:
‘Another shift which she found useful was the introduction of a purely irrelevant line:
At supper when his brother sat
I have not got a rhyme for that.’
Purely irrelevant indeed. Thankfully, George Shelton Hubbell reassures us that young Shelley was also a ‘juvenile blunderer’ in matters of poetry.
A strong concern of much of the general audience at the time was whether the children were actually writing those poems, or if adults were sneakily doing so. A passionate correspondence developed in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse in 1919, concerning little Hilda Conkling, who dictated poems to her mother:
‘Dear Poetry: Could you not give your readers more explicit information as to just how those poems of Hilda Conkling’s are done: To what extent does her mother select, rearrange and give form? Is it all actually improvised as given?… What a delightful little genius!… (E. Sapir.)’
‘I do not change words in Hilda’s poems,’ replied her mother, ‘nor alter her word-order; I write down the lines as rhythm dictates. She has made many poems which I have had to lose because I could not be certain of accurate transcription.’
The ‘accurate transcription’ of childly thoughts, the ‘authenticity’ of the child’s poetry needed to be ascertained at all costs, to the extent that Nathalia Crane, perhaps the most controversial of all child poets, was asked to produce a poem in the same room as a journalist. 
Nathalia Crane was quite unique in that her poetry got published in a newspaper without the editor’s knowledge that it was a child’s. The editor, Edmund Leamy, wrote an afterword to her collection, in 1924, in which he talked about his astonishment when he discovered the ‘imposture’:

My surprise is excusable. So many times I had received “poems” from youngsters who were careful to give their ages in addition to their names; so often I had received visits from doting parents or relatives requesting publication of verses by their children or sisters or cousins that I never dreamed any child would ever submit any work from his or her pen without adding the words “Aged — years”. But little Nathalia was the exception — and there was nothing in her poems that I received to indicate her age. The poems bought were accepted on their merits and on their merits alone.

‘On their merits alone’, with no ‘child-loving’ bias (to quote Kincaid’s famous study); this was, therefore, proper poetry. Yet it made adults feel relentlessly uncomfortable. Her poetry was more structured, more sexualised and more aware of the constraints of the adult world than other child poets, and adults didn’t know how to tackle it. Louis Untermeyer, in 1936, prefacing Crane’s new collection ‘Swear by the night’ (she was 22 by then), talks about the uncanny feeling he had when the poet was a little girl: 
‘She was ten and a half years old and she puzzled me. She puzzled me as a person even before she puzzled me as a poet. … There was even then a queerness about her, an almost too pronounced childishness coupled with a curious vocabulary.’
The blending of categories is always troublesome, the difficulty to draw lines between adulthood and childhood always a problem. Adults then, but still now, find it difficult to make sense of moments when the presence to the world of children is felt literally, fully, rather than wrapped in layers of symbols.
Nathalia Crane died in 1998 and I’ll leave you with one of her early poems, because it’s fair, after contributing myself to obscuring the works of those child poets with my own, to let her have the last words. I think the work might still be under copyright, so I'll only put the first stanza here; click to redirect to her collection on the Internet Archive.

LOVE


_____________________________________

Clementine Beauvais writes in French and English. She blogs here about children's literature and academia.

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8. The Three Robbers by Tomi Ungerer

At the Drawing Center, some good news - There will be a show of Tomi Ungerer's work at the Drawing Center January 16th - March 22nd, 2015. Tomi was a friend and contemporary to Maurice Sendak and Shel Silverstein. Click Tomi Ungerer: All in One to learn more. I wish I could go! Do you remember The Three Robbers? If not, here's a charming animated version of it at Daily Motion (the image will take you to the website to view it):

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9. Woo Hoo!! We Izzies (and S.C.) are Going On VACATION!

What's more, we're going SOUTH. That means WARM!

(Actually, anywhere we GO would be south. Since we are at the North Pole. Of course.)

Anyway, Bizzy has been searching the internet for a place we can visit where we would be able to BLEND IN.  (S.C. is worried that otherwise we might be mobbed by overly enthusiastic children.)

So Bizzy has found someplace that might just fill the bill.  S.C. is taking a look at Bizzy's data and then we will all meet in the conference room and vote on the plan.

SO THRILLING.

We do love our home, but you know, when the snow gets so deep that we Izzy Elves can't walk outside without it coming to our eyebrows (or higher, in Frizzy's case) we need a BREAK from winter. 

And now we just might have one!

We'll keep you posted.

Love from the extremely excited Izzies:

Bizzy, Blizzy, Dizzy, Fizzy, Frizzy, Quizzy, Tizzy and Whizzy



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10. when you can still call it yours

when it still belongs mostly to you and the handful of souls who have made time to read.

when it is as beautiful as this, all thanks to the design and editorial team.

before anything else can be said or done.

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11. The Top 5 Email Messages Formats

Email marketing should be a part of your inbound marketing strategy. It’s one of the best ways to reach and connect with subscribers, customers, readers, and so on. Email marketing is a direct marketing through digital means. It’s better than other direct marketing because it’s permission-based. This means the individual on your list willingly gave you his email address so you can send him

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12. Postcards and the 10%

POSTCARDS

Our SCBWI Carolinas Challenge will be four postcard submissions in 2015. But are they worth it. All the prep work, designing, creating, ordering and then of course- add stamps and address them. 

But Deb Johnson, a wonderful artist and one of our SCBWI C Working Illustrators Network [WIN] Coordinators found and posted this great article from Giuseppe Castellano, designer and Art Director at Penguin Random House. Ten percent, yes I needed that, oh how I needed that. I'll get right on it.

                                                  " Yes silly, just ten percent, ha, ha."

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13. How I Use Reviews To Improve My Craft - A WOW-Wednesday Post by Mary Waibel

Today I have the pleasure of presenting a writer who knows how to multitask. Besides being a talented, multi-published author, Mary Waibel is also my editor at BookFish Books. She's got a sharp eye for story and an even keener sense of how to improve your craft. Maybe some of that she learned from reading reviews!

How I Use Reviews To Improve My Craft -- A WOW-Wednesday Post by Mary Waibel




Today I’m talking about the dreaded “R” word. Reviews. They have the power to send an author’s spirits soaring into the atmosphere or plummeting to the depths of the earth. Good, bad, or ugly, reviews are needed to help generate buzz about our writing.

I read my reviews. All of them. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Why? Well, of course I read the good ones because they reaffirm that a reader liked what I wrote.

Why read the bad ones?

I believe reading is subjective, and no matter how much I work on my craft, there will be people who do not like what I write. But, if they took the time to tell me why they didn’t like what I wrote, I feel I owe it to them as a reader to listen to what they had to say and see if I need to make a change in what I’m doing as an author.

Not all reviews are equal. One or two star ratings accompanied by review that say, “I didn’t like it” or “this just wasn’t for me” may sting, but they really do nothing to educate you as an author about why the reader didn’t like your book. These reviews, IMHO, should be glanced at and set aside.

Reviews that say things like, “the writing was formulaic,” “I figured out the villain the moment they stepped on page,” or “too many clichés” are ones you should read, set aside and let the sting fade away, then go back and re-read, listening to what this reader is trying to tell you.
  • Did you follow a formula? If so, why? If you were writing this book again, would you do the same thing, or would you do something different? 
  • Did you introduce any red herrings or was it not important that your reader discover the villain right away? 
  • Could you have made a twist on the clichés you chose to use? Or, did you really need them in the first place?

You might find you disagree with the reviewer, and that’s fine. Look at your work with their comments in mind, fix what you think you need to, and move on.

It’s okay if you don’t read your reviews. Or if you have someone screen them for you. But, I hope you might consider looking at reviews as a way to improve your craft.

About the Author:



YA author Mary Waibel’s love for fairytales and happy-ever-afters fill the pages of her works. Whether penning stories in a medieval setting or a modern day school, magic and romance weave their way inside every tale. Strong female characters use both brain and brawn to save the day and win the heart of their men. Mary enjoys connecting with her readers through her website: marywaibel.blogspot.com

Website | Twitter | Goodreads




About the Book:


http://www.amazon.com/Faery-Marked-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00PWQA9ZS/
 When Callie Rycroft wakes to find purple flames flickering on the ceiling, she believes she’s still dreaming. But soon she’s forced to accept that she has magic―a special magic that grants her entrance into the Faery Realm.

For centuries humans have been banned from Faery, but dangerous times call for dangerous measures. Declared Champion by the Faery Queen, Callie is assigned a Guardian, and tasked with finding the Cordial―a magical elixir needed to keep the portal to the Faery realm a secret from humans.

The upside? Reece Michaels, the boy she's been crushing on for years, is her Guardian. Callie hopes that by spending time with Reece, he'll start to see her as more than just his best friend's sister.

The downside? She's in a race not only against time, but against another Champion, and a rogue Guardian―a Guardian who stands to threaten her developing relationship with Reece.

Magic, mistaken identities, and hidden agendas are the least of Callie's worries when she learns that the Cordial requires a sacrifice. Will Callie be willing to risk everything―even Reece―to complete her task as Champion? Or will she let the portal open, and doom both realms?


Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads


-- Happy Writing!
    S.P. Sipal, @HP4Writers

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14. How We Do Social Media

Social Media Nightmare © Sparky Firepants

If you arrived here from our seminar Debunking Social Media Myths, welcome! Thanks for being there for our lil’ ol’ seminar, we appreciate it.

If you found this by any other means, get out. Just kidding. You may have missed the seminar, but we’ll share the PowerPoint slide show online, along with the audio from the event. If you want to be updated with the link when it’s live, send us an email: sparky@sparkyfirepants.com

As we promised during the seminar, here is a short list of social media sites we use and how we use them. We acknowledge that our way is not THE way. You’ll find that things that work for us won’t work for you and vice versa. We think that’s just fine and dandy. Use this as a guideline and sally forth into Social Media Experiment Land.

From here on out I’m going to start abbreviating Social Media as SM. Cheese and crackers, that gets tiring to type.


FacebookFB monster

Let’s start with the most popular SM network out here right now. Jenni and I both use Facebook personally, Jenni being the more active one. Frankly, FB makes me crazy but Jenni has a super force field that allows her to peruse without clenched teeth and nightmares.

That said, so many people we know use FB regularly that we created a Sparky Firepants fan page (right here). We’ve been using it for several years, but our activity has tapered off in the past six months or so. The reason is that because of FB’s new algorithms, our customers just aren’t seeing our fan page posts in their feeds as well as they used to. The interaction was declining and we found we were working very hard to push those fan page posts in our FB friends’ faces. It just wasn’t effective anymore. If you were at our seminar, you remember how we talked about being where your customers are. For us, it’s not our fan page.

So, we post here and there to keep things active for those who really enjoy seeing us on FB. That’s about it.

Twittertwitter monster

This is my personal favorite. I’ve been active on twitter since 2007. For Sparky Firepants customers, we’ve found that Twitter is the numero uno place where our people hang out.

For the uninitiated, Twitter looks like a hugely random stream of meaningless thoughts and way too many links to click on. It looks daunting. It’s like a loud cocktail party where you don’t know anyone.

Take a deep breath. Very little of what you see in your twitter stream matters. Here’s a great tutorial of how to use Twitter.

Now, if you’re already tweeting like an eagle, here’s how we use Twitter. In two words, building relationships. Just like in the real world, it’s about making a real connection with your customers. Sparky Firepants has about 2,800 followers. It took about seven years to get that many. We estimate that we connect personally with about 10-20% of our followers over the course of a year. Some more than others, some not at all. The numbers are not the most important factor. What’s important.is how well you connect with real people on twitter.

Do we want more followers? Sure. We prefer to build that number organically. When you pay SM experts to get you thousands of followers instantly!, it will probably work. What you’ll get is a giant list of people who don’t know you or care about what you do, which is a waste of your tweeting time and marketing efforts.

LinkedInlinkedin monster

Fancy online resume. That’s how most people see LinkedIn. While your user profile is essentially your resume, there’s private messaging, articles, and groups you can be involved in.

I’m very protective of my LinkedIn network. The only people you’ll see in my network (if we’re connected, that is) are people I’ve either worked with or know personally (and would recommend them for work in their field). While on Twitter I may connect with a lot of people I don’t even know, I keep my LinkedIn connections very tight.

LinkedIn groups are key for your business. Participating in a group that’s relevant to what you do makes you more visible than just putting up a profile. I’ve met a lot of great people, made new customers and learned from others in my career field through groups.

Instagraminstagram monster

Why eat when you just scroll through photos of what everyone else is eating? Instagrammers get a lot of flack for posting pics of every meal and multiple selfies a day, but it can really boost your online presence.

It’s the easiest marketing you’ll ever do. Hosting an event or just attending an event? Take photos, post to Instagram, add a hash tag that’s relevant to your business or event. Just one example.

Beyond posting your own stuff, you really need to be active in other people’s accounts. Favorite things you like, comment on posts, and share others’ posts with friends. That’s how you organically build a following. Like all SM and personal relationships, it’s not all about you.

But wait, there’s more!

So much more. There are new SM networks popping up almost every day. Like we covered in the seminar, we don’t think every network is right for us and one network could be perfect for you that we just don’t use.

I’m a tech geek and I like to experiment with new apps and networks all the time. That’s me. If that’s not you, then let it go. However, I will say that if you find your customers are talking about a new SM network, it’s probably in your best interest to at least check it out. Remember our social media marketing slogan:

Be where your customers are.

 

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15. Review and Giveaway: Her Highland Fling by Jennifer McQuiston

 

This morning I have a review of Jennifer McQuiston’s novella, Her Highland Fling, as well as an excerpt and an awesome giveaway.  Enjoy!

My Thoughts:

I am always game to read a novella.  Their compact length makes them perfect to squeeze into an overloaded reading schedule, and for authors I haven’t read previously, it gives me a good idea whether or not I want to make the time commitment for a longer book.  When I saw Her Highland Fling, I was intrigued.  I’ve picked up a couple of Jennifer McQuiston’s other works, but I haven’t gotten around to actually loading them on my Kindle yet, so I was more than happy to download this and start reading.

William McKenzie is stressing about the financial health of his village, so he organizes the Highland Games, hoping to lure Londoners and their wallets to his humble hometown.  He even foots the bill to refurb a room at the local inn, all to impress the reporter he’s arranged to visit Moraig.  The joke’s on WIlliam, though.  Instead of the reporter he’s expecting – one of the male persuasion – a beautiful woman descends from the coach and immediately turns his life on end.

Poor William!  He’s so devoted to improving the fortunes of the villagers that his usual sense of humor has fled.  Worse, he can’t seem to form a coherent sentence when Penelope is around.  He comes off like the village idiot, and that was my only sticking point with the story.  Pen has a stutter, and was bullied mercifully because of it.  I was disappointed when she constantly referred to William in less than flattering terms.  Yes, they got off on the wrong foot, and yes, she misjudged him terribly, but for someone who was made fun of and didn’t care for it, I expected a little more tolerance from her. It made me not like her at first, probably because I felt that I knew William so well, and how can you not like a guy willing to don his plaids in the middle of the afternoon on a hot summer day, all to secure the future of his beloved home?

The tone of the story is light, and it clicks quickly along.  I loved William, and slowly warmed up to Penelope.  Once she sets her sights on William, he has no chance against her onslaught.  Determined to finally have a fling and get some first hand knowledge of the opposite sex, Penelope quickly determines that the Highlander is perfect for her research, even if he isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.  William is just so tongue tied around this fiercely independent woman that he can’t get out an intelligent thought, which makes him perfect for Pen’s plans to love him and leave him behind.  

Her Highland Fling is a fun story, and I enjoyed my visit to Moraig.  It’s a very fast read with plenty of humor and one very determined spinster ready for her walk on the wild side.  Did I mention the water fairies?   

 

 

Her Highland Fling
Second Sons #2.5

By: Jennifer McQuiston

Releasing January 27th, 2015

Avon Impulse

Blurb

Let the Games Begin…

William MacKenzie has always been protective of his Scottish village. When Moraig’s economy falters, he has the perfect solution to lure wealthy Londoners to this tiny hamlet: resurrect the ancient Highland Games! But for this to work, William knows he needs a reporter to showcase the town in just the right light.

A female journalist might be a tolerated oddity in Brighton, but newly minted reporter Penelope Tolbertson is discovering that finding respect in London is a far more difficult prospect. After receiving an invitation to cover Moraig’s Highland Games, Penelope is determined to prove to her London editors just how valuable she can be.

Penelope instantly captures William’s heart, but she is none too impressed with the gruff, broody Highlander. However as she begins to understand his plans, Penelope discovers she may want more from him than just a story. She’s only got a few days…but maybe a few days is all they need.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/12/her-highland-fling-novella-by-jennifer.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22836685-her-highland-fling

Buy Links Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Her-Highland-Fling-Jennifer-McQuiston-ebook/dp/B00M719Z1K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418837254&sr=8-1&keywords=Her+Highland+Fling+by+Jennifer+McQuiston

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/her-highland-fling-jennifer-mcquiston/1120159653?ean=9780062387226

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/her-highland-fling/id904016482?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/her-highland-fling/AzKXHXcFjUu4ftwXCWhiNw?MixID=AzKXHXcFjUu4ftwXCWhiNw&PageNumber=1

Author Info

A veterinarian and infectious disease researcher by training, Jennifer McQuiston has always preferred reading romance to scientific textbooks. She resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, their two girls, and an odd assortment of pets, including the pony she promised her children if mommy ever got a book deal. Jennifer can be reached via her website at www.jenmcquiston.com or followed on Twitter @jenmcqwrites

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: http://www.jenmcquiston.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennifermcquistonauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jenmcqwrites

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6163186.Jennifer_McQuiston

Excerpt

Fling (n.): “Vigorous dance” (associated with the Scottish Highlands), from 1806.

Period of indulgence on the eve of responsibilities,” first attested 1827.

From the Online Etymology Dictionary

Chapter One

Moraig, Scotland, 1843{/H1}

All the world hated a hypocrite, and William MacKenzie was no exception.

But today that trouser-clad hypocrite was his brother, James, which made it a little hard for William to hate him like he ought.

As James sauntered to a stop beneath the awning of Moraig’s posting house, his laughing gaze dropped to William’s bare knees and then climbed northward again. “If you’re trying to make a memorable impression,” he sniggered, “all that’s missing is a good breeze.”

“You are late.” William crossed his arms and tried to look menacing. “And I thought we agreed last night we would share this indignity.”

“No, you agreed.” James shoved his hands in the pockets of his trousers and offered up a shite-eating grin. “I listened and wisely withheld a formal opinion.”

William bit back a growl of frustration. For Christ’s sake, he knew well enough he looked like a fool, standing in the thick heat of early August, draped in the MacKenzie plaid. And there was no doubt he would be teasing James unmercifully if the reverse were true.

But today they were both supposed to look like fools.

And James had a far better set of legs.

As though summoned by his brother’s fateful words, a ghost of a breeze stirred the wool that clung to William’s sweat-moistened skin. He clapped a hand down over his sporran, ensuring the most important parts remained hidden. “You live in Moraig, just as I do,” he pointed out to his errant brother. “You owe it to the town to help me make a proper impression for the reporter from the London Times.”

“Oh, aye, and I will. I had thought to say something properly memorable, such as ‘Welcome to Moraig.’ ” James raised a dark, mocking brow. “And we shouldn’t need to put on airs. The town has its own charm.”

“Well, the tourists haven’t exactly been flocking here,” William retorted, gesturing to the town’s nearly empty streets. Hidden in the farthest reaches of Scotland—far enough, even, that the Atlantic coast lapped at its heels—the little town of Moraig might indeed be charming, but attempts to attract London tourists had fallen somewhat short. If William had anything to say about it, that was going to change, starting today.

The only problem was he should have said it a half hour ago.

He took off his Balmoral cap and pulled his hand through hair already damp with sweat. While he was willing to tolerate looking like a fool in order to prove Moraig was the perfect holiday destination for Londoners seeking an authentic Highland experience, he still objected to having to look like one alone. “We’ve an opportunity to get a proper story printed in the Times, highlighting all Moraig has to offer.” He settled the cap back on his head. “If you have an issue with the plaid, you could have at least bestirred yourself to put on a small kilt.”

James burst out laughing. “And draw attention away from your bonny knees?”

As if in agreement, a series of catcalls rang out from a group of men who had crowded onto the sidewalk outside the Blue Gander, Moraig’s inn and public house.

One of them held up his pint. “Lovely legs, MacKenzie!”

“Now show us your arse!”

William scowled in their direction. On another day, he might have joined them in raising a pint, but not today. Moraig’s future was at stake. The town’s economy was hardly prospering, and its weathered residents couldn’t depend on fishing and gossip to sustain them forever. They needed a new direction, and as the Earl of Kilmartie’s heir, he felt obligated to sort out a solution. He’d spent months organizing the upcoming Highland Games. It was a calculated risk that, if properly orchestrated, would ensure the betterment of every life in town. When David Cameron, the town’s magistrate, had offered to invite a reporter up from London, it had seemed a brilliant opportunity to reach those very tourists they were aiming to attract.

But with the sweat now pooling in places best left unmentioned and the minutes ticking slowly by, that brilliance was beginning to tarnish.

William peered down the road that led into town, imagining he could see a cloud of dust implying the arrival of the afternoon coach. The very late afternoon coach. But all he saw was the delicate shimmer of heat, reflecting the nature of the devilishly hot day.

“Bugger it all,” he muttered. “How late can a coach be? There’s only one route from Inverness.” He plucked at the damp collar of his shirt, wondering where the coachman could be. “Mr. Jeffers knew the importance of being on time today. We need to make a ripping first impression with this reporter.”

James’s gaze dropped once more to William’s bare legs. “Oh, I don’t think there’s any doubt of it.” He leaned against the posting house wall and crossed his arms. “If I might beg the question . . . Why turn it into such a circus? Why these games, instead of, say, a well-placed rumor of a beastie living in Loch Moraig? You’ve got the entire town in an uproar preparing for it.”

William snorted. “Sunday dinners are enough to put this town in an uproar. And you know as well as I that the games are for their own good.”

Though, God forbid his nolly-cocked, newly married brother lift a hand in the planning.

Or be bothered to put on a kilt, as it were.

William could allow that James was perhaps a bit distracted by his pretty wife and new baby—and understandably so. But given that his brother was raising his bairns here, shouldn’t he want to ensure Moraig’s future success more than anyone?

James looked up suddenly, shading his eyes with a hand. “Well, best get those knees polished to a shine. There’s your coach now. Half hour late, as per usual.”

With a near groan of relief, William stood at attention on the posting house steps as the mail coach roared up in a choking cloud of dust and hot wind. Scrawny chickens and stray dogs scuttled to dubious safety before the coach’s barreling path, and he eyed the animals with a moment’s concern, wondering if perhaps he ought to have tried to corral them into some hidden corner, safely out of sight.

But it was too late now.

A half hour off schedule. Perhaps it wasn’t the tragedy he’d feared. They could skip the initial stroll down Main Street he’d planned and head straight to the inn. He could point out some of the pertinent sights later, when he showed the man the competition field that had been prepared on the east side of town.

“And dinna tell the reporter I’m the heir,” William warned as an afterthought. “We want him to think of Moraig as a charming and rustic retreat from London.” If the town was to have a future, it needed to be seen as a welcome escape from titles and peers and such, and he did not want this turning into a circus where he stood at the center of the ring.

As the coach groaned to a stop, James clapped William on the shoulder with mock sympathy. “Don’t worry. With those bare legs, I suspect your reporter will have enough to write about without nosing about the details of your inheritance.”

The coachman secured the reins and jumped down from his perch. A smile of amusement broke across Mr. Jeffers’s broad features. “Wore the plaid today, did we?”

Bloody hell. Not Jeffers, too.

“You’re late.” William scowled. “Were there any problems fetching the chap from Inverness?” He was anxious to greet the reporter, get the man properly situated in the Blue Gander, and then go home to change into something less . . . Scottish. And, God, knew he could also use a pint or three, though preferably ones not raised at his expense.

Mr. Jeffers pushed the brim of his hat up an inch and scratched his head. “Well, see, here’s the thing. I dinna exactly fetch a chap, as it were.”

This time, William couldn’t suppress the growl that erupted from his throat. “Mr. Jeffers, don’t tell me you left him there!” It would be a nightmare if he had. The entire thing had been carefully orchestrated, down to a reservation for the best room the Blue Gander had to offer. The goal had been to install the reporter safely in Moraig and show him a taste of the town’s charms before the games commenced on Saturday.

“Well, I . . . that is . . .” Mr. Jeffers’s gaze swung between the brothers, and he finally shrugged. “Well, I suppose you’ll see well enough for yourself.”

He turned the handle and then swung the coach door open.

A gloved hand clasped Mr. Jeffers’s palm, and then a high, elegant boot flashed into sight.

“What in the blazes—” William choked on his surprise as a blond head tipped into view. A body soon followed, stepping down in a froth of blue skirts. She dropped Jeffers’s hand and looked around with bright interest.

“Your chap’s a lass,” explained a bemused Mr. Jeffers.

“A lass?” echoed William stupidly.

And not only a lass . . . a very pretty lass.

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Print copy of WHAT HAPPENS IN SCOTLAND + $25 eGift Card to choice Book Seller)

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The post Review and Giveaway: Her Highland Fling by Jennifer McQuiston appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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16. How to make feathery palm fronds

Palms 1-01aThe palm fronds on this tree were created with a double art brush technique in Adobe Illustrator. I posted a video for you to see what I mean. Go to: Feathery Palm Fronds

      

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17. TCB

A day you hadn’t planned on
When you get to stay at home
Is the perfect time for TCB
(Or jotting down a poem).

Go through closets, pay some bills,
Read a magazine;
Cook or bake or take the time
To actually clean.

Write an email, make a call,
Catch up on some shows;
Dive into the novel that
Your book club did propose.

Having time for TCB’s
A rare and special treat.
Take advantage but beware –
Between the chores, you eat!

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18. Need outlining help

Question: In my story, I have the beginning and end figured out, but I am needing help putting it all together. Try as I may, it just doesn't seem to work

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19. Music To Write By

I don't think I'm the only one to use music to get me in the mood for writing. In fact, some novelists add to the back page a playlist of the tunes they have used while creating their works of genius.

The thing is, quite a lot of my writing has been done outside the house. This, for example, is being written on the Watergardens train, on the way to my first day at work for 2015. So it's done to the music of train whistles, powered doors closing and wheels on the rails. I wrote most of Crime Time: Australians Behaving Badly at the Presse Cafe in Elwood, because at the time I was on dialup and I had used most of my twenty hours per month of download time; the Presse has free wifi - and no background music, thank heaven!

But I do have days - and late nights - when I set up my laptop in the living room, put on the kettle and get stuck into my latest WIP. At those times, I like to get in the mood with the appropriate music or even, occasionally, movie.

If I'm writing a mediaeval fantasy, for example, I might play some early music. That can sometimes be a problem because I used to learn Renaissance dance and a sprightly galliard tune will get me out of my seat and doing galliard variations, or a pavane to the Boar's Head Carol. Actually, you really need a partner to do the pavane properly, but never mind. I do it, and it takes me away from the writing. Not for long, though, and when I return I'm energised and keen to write more.

For a battle scene I like epic film music, Miklos Rosza or Elmer Bernstein for preference, but Howard Shore's Lord Of The Rings music will do nicely.

When I was working on the edits for Wolfborn, my mediaeval werewolf novel, I put on my DVD of  Ladyhawke, that lovely film in which two lovers are cursed never to be together because he's a wolf by night and she's a hawk by day, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't influence me. The music isn't mediaeval style, but it sets the right mood.

Monday I absolutely had to finish my first draft of the bushranger story I'm submitting to Ford Street. I'd been stuck halfway, even though I knew how it was ending. I thought the appropriate score would be some Australian folk songs, but I don't have any. Well, I do have one or two CDs somewhere on my shelves that are along those lines, but not quite. Next best was Irish folk music, and maybe some Scottish. And I had CDs of The Chieftains, the Bothy Band and Silly Wizard. There are also Clannad and Loreena McKennett, but they don't have quite the same flavour, too much singing, not enough of the traditional instruments. I needed music that might have been heard by Frank Gardiner and his merry men, penny whistle, fiddle, accordion, bodhran...

It was amazing how easily I managed to finish the draft while that music was playing. It worked so well, I managed a second draft.

I wonder, now, if playing music will help me choose a title...



  

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20. Straight From the Source: Dianne K. Salerni on Writing Historical Fiction

DIANNE K. SALERNI, a former fifth grade teacher, is the author of young adult historical novels, We Hear the Dead (Sourcebooks) and The Caged Graves (Clarion/HMH), and the middle-grade fantasy series, The Eighth Day (HarperCollins). In her spare time, Dianne is prone to hanging around creepy cemeteries and climbing 2000 year-old pyramids in the name of book research.

What typically comes first for you: a character? An era? A story idea? How do you proceed from there?

The premise of the story comes first, and that usually dictates the time period. When I decided to write about the Fox sisters, their séance fraud, and Maggie Fox’s romance with Elisha Kane, I had to follow the timeline of their true story. When I decided to write about the caged graves in Catawissa, Pennsylvania, I could have changed the time period, but I thought it was better to work with the actual dates of death on the headstones. When I began working on a project that involved Nikola Tesla, I obviously had to work within the span of his life.

Having determined the time period of each story, my first step is to research the subject (ie: biographies of Maggie Fox, Elisha Kane, Nikola Tesla), the setting (ie: the history of Catawissa), and when possible, read other books set within the same time period.

What kinds of sources do you use? 

I do a lot of my research online and depend on historical society websites, historic photographs, census information, and even online copies of old magazines, such as Godey’s Ladies Book. Who scans all this information and puts it online, I don’t know, but I owe them a debt of gratitude!

I also purchase books when appropriate, especially biographies and books on local history. If a historical character in my story has written a book (such as Elisha Kane’s Arctic Explorations) I may read that. I also have a few reference books on hand in my house, such as a giant dictionary of slang (which helps me date slang accurately for historical use) or The Writer’s Guide to Every Day Life in the 1800s.

On occasion, I’ll visit a location related to my book or a scene in the book, such as a cemetery, a town, a coal mine, or in one case, a pyramid in Mexico! (Did you know traveling for book research is tax deductible?!)

At what point do you feel comfortable beginning to draft? How does your research continue once you begin writing?

I begin writing when the opening of the story reveals itself to me and I have enough plot ideas to move forward from there. Although I usually sketch out a basic outline for a plot before beginning the story, I rarely stick to it. For me, the true story develops along the way, and it’s often not exactly what I planned it to be.

I will continue to research as things come up during the writing. (ie: What town was accessible to the main character’s home by train in a single day? Were cupcakes invented by the 1860s? How did someone acquire decorative plants in the days before florists and nurseries?)

What’s your favorite thing about writing historical fiction?

I love learning about the details of life and marveling at what people could do then that we can’t do now. Yes, that may be the opposite of what one expects – Can’t we do more now? – but the people of the past had many more skills than we do. We are specialized and rely on our technology. We need to know less, because we can always look something up or find somebody else who knows what we need. (People don’t even bother to memorize phone numbers anymore!)

I also love portraying people in historical time periods as very much the same as people today. For example, when one of my characters, Verity, becomes engaged to a young man she knows only through letters, it’s a lot like today’s online dating. When she finally meets him, she’s expecting insta-love, and when that doesn’t happen, it’s a disappointment to her.

What are some obstacles writing historical fiction brings?

If I had a penny for every time an editor passed on a manuscript, saying, “Historical fiction is a hard sell” … well, I’d have a lot of pennies.

I wish so many readers (especially YA readers) didn’t automatically write off historical fiction. History is a setting like any other – contemporary, dystopian, fantasy, or science fiction. Where and when the action takes place helps shapes the story, of course, but why historical settings would be considered less appealing than others puzzles me!

Because life isn’t always clear cut, the motives behind our actions don’t always make sense. But stories need to follow a logical path. What sorts of decisions have you had to make about “muddy” historical figures or events in order for your book to work?

This definitely came up a number of times when I was writing the story of the Fox sisters. They did what the historical record says they did, and I had to work with that. I had to provide the motivation behind their actions, even when those actions didn’t make sense. I believed the girls were frauds, but I had to work with witness accounts of their eerily accurate séances. Elisha Kane disappointed Maggie Fox repeatedly, but she always took him back. Why?

In the end, I had to remember that people in the past were not very different than people today. Witnesses lie. Girls believe their lovers will change, that this time, things will be different. When faced with a conundrum in history, I almost always found that human faults and frailties provided the solution for me. Because people aren’t logical or perfect.

Why is historical fiction important?

For exactly the reasons I stated above! People in the past were the same as people today. It’s important for us to understand that there’s nothing new under the sun – even if we think there is! Online dating and long-distance romance? Not new. Boyfriends who won’t commit and businesses that defraud the customers? Not new.

We need historical fiction in order to be less self-centered, to remind ourselves that people who came before us led lives as rich and interesting as our own – as will the people who come after us.

The post Straight From the Source: Dianne K. Salerni on Writing Historical Fiction appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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21. Book Review: Goodbye Old Man


In the spring of 1915, Fortunino Matania traveled to the front lines of the Great War to research his illustrations for the British illustrated journal The Sphere. 

Neuve Chapelle, 1915, by Fortunino Matania, Royal Worcestershire Regiment Museum
He sketched the positions of the dead and the the layout of the defenses, reconstructing the battle that had just taken place. But the battlefield was still hot, and his attempts to sketch were interrupted by machine gun fire. Ducking into a trench, he bobbed his head up for a few seconds to take in the view of the nearby village and the debris—a battered teakettle, a discarded bottle, and a sardine can.

A shell exploded just five yards away, covering him and his sketchbook with dirt. He escaped to the relative safety of a field hospital, where he interviewed survivors. Returning to his studio in England, he dug a trench in his own garden to reconstruct the scene in real life, where he could study the effects in safety.


This story is just one of many contained in a new book called Goodbye, Old Man: Matania's Vision of the First World War about the Italian-born illustrator Fortunino Matania (1881-1963). The title is a reference to his most famous image, showing a soldier saying farewell to his dying horse as his buddies urge him on.

The book is softcover, 6 3/4 x 7 1/2 inches with over 100 illustrations, more than 30 of which are in color. The images are reproduced both from original art and from tearsheets. Because of the petite size of the book, the illustrations are unfortunately disappointingly small, but they're well captioned, and larger files can often be found online. List price is U.S. $18.95, but it can be found on Amazon for less than $15.00. 

The book does much to fill the gap in published information about this underappreciated artist whom I've written about many times before on this blog. It's an especially good resource for anyone interested in the documentation of World War I. I hope that someone will produce another book covering his vast output of historical illustrations after the war.


Book: Goodbye, Old Man: Matania's Vision of the First World War by Lucinda Gosling
Previous GJ posts on Matania

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22. On Submission

What actually happens when your agent says your book is "on submission."

http://literaticat.blogspot.com/2014/11/an-epic-post-about-submission-process.html

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23. Novel Wisdom (25)

This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.

This is a book I found at my public library. It’s been on my radar for awhile and I was happy when I saw it on the shelf. Ironically, I had just re-read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath the week before so maybe it was kismet since this book revolves around this author.

This novel centers around several teens who are all going through their unique traumas. This particular line spoke to me because we have all been through some type of trial or trauma ourselves and sometimes we just want it to be over — but sometimes you just have to go through whatever it is that has hurt you before you can move on.

Belzhar
From Jam, the narrator of the novel Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

“I hadn’t known that if you hold on, if you force yourself as hard as you can to find some kind of patience in the middle of all your impatience, things can change. It’s big, and it’s always incredibly messy. But there’s no way around the mess.”

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24. Writer Wednesday: Revising Out Loud

I've been doing a lot of editing lately, both for clients and for my own books, so I thought I'd share a tip with you all today. I talk a lot about how I edit books backward in one of my reading passes, but something else that is just as important (maybe more important) is reading the book out loud.

I can't stress this enough. Yes, you will probably lose your voice if you revise too much in one sitting, but reading aloud allows you to identify so many weakness in your writing. Don't believe me? Ask people who have had their books made into audio versions if their readers (the person making the audio) identified errors. I bet they did. 

Here are just a few things you'll hear when you read your book aloud:

Repetition  Every manuscript I edit has repetition it in. Every single one. And in 
most cases it's unnecessary repetition that you don't want. (My editors get on my case for this too because seriously, everyone does it.) If you read your book aloud, the repetition pretty much slaps you in the face, and then you can get rid of it. You'll be thankful when the book reads more smoothly and the pace picks up, too.

Missing Words  Yes, you can hear missing words. You hear them because they aren't there. When we read in our heads, we don't always catch a missing "the" or "an," but you will when you read aloud.

Awkward Wording  You'll stumble over sentences that aren't quite right if you read them aloud. If you have to slow down or reread a sentence, something is wrong with your wording. Maybe it's a case of poor word choice or a phrase that doesn't quite read correctly. Either way, this is the time to fix it.

Contractions  I've had clients make words into contractions that have no right to be contractions. ;) It's awkward for the reader. In the same token, most kids don't speak without contractions, so if you're avoiding them completely, think again. Reading aloud will highlight areas that don't sound like real life speech.

Italics  Sometimes you have to make sure your intent with emphasis is clear. Italics will do that. So if you're reading a sentence and the emphasis could be placed on the wrong word, make life easier on your reader and add italics to the word or words you want emphasized.

I could probably keep going, but I think you get the point. It's worth the extra time it takes to read a manuscript aloud. 

Do you make reading aloud part of your revision process?


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25. Thank You So Much.


Just wanted to say a very big thank you for your support, very much appreciated, and that I shall not be posting on this blog until my next book is published - as I keep saying, the children will be grandparents before it is finally completed. Take care, much love, Carole.

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