Writing Prompts for July 2016 and Links to Plotting Tips

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I went away for the weekend and never opened the laptop once. Yikes! So I hope all my Canadian friends had a wonderful Canada Day weekend, and I wish all my American friends a happy 4th of July!

Once the celebrations are over and the summer officially lays ahead, I hope your thoughts turn to writing, and for those NaNoWriMo people—planning. I have many great writing resources saved on Pinterest. Please drop by and check them out. In the meantime, here’s a sample of a few that fit into the category of plotting:

https://janefriedman.com/use-plot-planner/
How to Use a Plot Planner by Jane Friedman – This blog goes way beyond the basics.

http://blog.janicehardy.com/2010/07/enemy-mine.html
What’s the Problem: The Four Basic Conflict Types by Janice Hardy – This blog explains how the different kinds of conflict build your plot.

http://mythcreants.com/blog/planning-character-arcs/
Planning Character Arcs by Chris Winkle – “If you like to plan your stories ahead, you’ve almost certainly sketched out your plot. But have you planned your character arcs? Every story needs a character arc for its protagonist, even if it’s simple or subtly conveyed. And while supporting characters don’t always need an arc, stories are better off when they’re included.”

http://www.darcypattison.com/plot/29-plot-templates
29 Plot Templates by Darcy Pattison — “Plot templates are helpful in telling an author the possible events for different sections of the story. I like to consult these when I’m first thinking of an idea for a novel and when I start a revision. I want to know what is typical for the type story I’m telling and knowing that, I can create variations that will hold a reader’s interest.”

And now for your July writing prompts:

Use one, some, or all of these words in a story or poem.

  • mice, blue, ribbon, tower, storm, tremble
  • green, room, light, empty, fear, find
  • road, narrow, edge, safe, red, leave

See if one of these titles inspires a story: The Two Tree, Winters Lost, Fir Weather Enemy, The Bridge, Good Works, Lesson Not Learned, Cats are Trouble, The Map, Love Looks the Other Way, Island Adventure, My Day.

Here are some opening lines you can try:

  • I don’t want to know where you’ve been.
  • This plan can’t fail.
  • Henry didn’t know he was going for his last walk own Grey Street.
  • What’s that around your neck?
  • My sister thought she knew everything
  • Dogs can smell a liar.
  • I can’t find Skipper.
  • The ground shook.
  • Helen remembered ______________, but it was too late.

Maybe one of these dialogue excerpts will help you imagine a scene or a story.

When did you last talk to Henry?
A couple of days ago. Why?
No one seems to have seen him since Tuesday night.

I think I know what’s going on.
I’m glad someone does.
I didn’t say it was a good thing.

Where are you going?
I can’t tell you.
Can’t? Or won’t?

Why are you stopping?
My back hurts.
Let me carry (it, her, him) for a while.
No. This is my job.

Helen passed me her laptop this morning, so I could add my pages to the project.
So?
She had some really strange pages open on Google.
Like what?

What do you like most about summer? Least? How does your character feel about summer? What’s his or her favourite season? Why?

Wishing you a writerly July!

 

Self-Publishing Tips, Resources, and Looking Back.

My Books--Only one is not self-published
My Books–Only one is not self-published

I wrote the post below in January 2014, but lately I have seen increased interest in the subject  from writers I’m meeting online. Many are new to the process, so that’s the reason for the reprint. The blog offers some resources and cautions that newcomers need to know about.

Looking back, I can see that I’m even more committed to the model than I was a year ago. Last summer I took an online course with Kristen Eckstein, a 30-day boot camp for creating a non-fiction series–the results of which I hope to see published by June. It was an inspiring experience, and provided further reasons for me to stick with the self-publishing model. And, in all honesty, I must admit that I’m having fun with it.

Marketing is the biggest challenge, but I’ve drawn up a plan that I hope will help me connect more effectively with my audience, and that, you’ll be glad to hear, doesn’t involve hourly, computer-generated, buy-my-book updates on Twitter. I’m a patient person and willing to let the process take the time it needs to show results. Wish me luck!

Here’s the repost of the 2014 blog. I hope some of the information in it is useful as you negotiate this exciting and challenging publishing option.

*************

I have fumbled my way through self-publishing over the past few years. Trying things, making mistakes, seeing how things turn out. Thought I’d share a bit of that experience.

I’ve used a couple of publishers since I started self-publishing. Right now I’m using CreateSpace  https://www.createspace.com/ and Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) https://kdp.amazon.com/kdp/self-publishing/signin?language=en_US  After I finish setting up my book in CreateSpace, I can choose for it to be sent to Amazon KDP (they are the same company.) CreateSpace will also send it to other epub distributors, too. Both services are free, though CreateSpace offers services like custom cover designs, copyediting, and marketing for a fee, if you want to take advantage of them.

I’m using CreateSpace for my second edition of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens, and I’m fine with having them distribute it to Amazon and other sellers, such as Kobo. For my sequel to The Dragon’s Pearl, I’m going to go with CreateSpace and KDP only. There are some promotion options with KDP that are only available if it is the exclusive distributor for a set period of time. I’d like to try those promotions, so I’m going to give that option a try for my fiction. For 201 Writing Starters, I went to Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/ . They had a very easy-to-use product and also provide a free service. If I do another edition of the book, I will probably go through CreateSpace, though, because it offers free cover design options that I prefer to use rather than coming up with my own.

The first edition of Writing Fiction was published through iUniverse, a vanity press. I wouldn’t choose that route now for a couple of reasons. First, I want to earn more money per sale, and royalties are much better on my own. Second, I am more confident about being able to format a book that would look professional, and third, I know a lot more about the industry. I was lucky in that I took advantage of a sale offer at iUniverse and didn’t spend money on extras, and I can say that I have earned my money back. A few writers I know who took the vanity press route have realized they will never earn their money back.

I got the templates for the interiors of the dragon books and Writing Fiction – Second Edition from Joel Friedlander http://www.thebookdesigner.com/ at a very reasonable cost. You can see inside the book here to see what one of his formats looks like: http://www.amazon.com/Dragons-Pearl-Heather-Elizabeth-Wright/dp/1483954021

If you’re thinking of the self-publishing route, be aware of the new trend among traditional publishers to have their own vanity press. They make it look like you’re working with Simon & Schuster for instance, but you’re really paying to have your book published with a vanity press that is part of a large company with a very poor reputation. Read this blog from Writer Beware®: The Blog to get the details: http://accrispin.blogspot.ca/2012/11/archway-publishing-simon-schuster-adds.html To make sure that you are working with a reputable company always check Preditors & Editors, an excellent site that has a listing of publishers/agents along with recommendations and cautions.  http://pred-ed.com/

To end on a more positive note, here’s a link to a great blog post from Jane Friedman with a lot of helpful links to help you make some decisions about your publishing future.  http://janefriedman.com/2012/01/28/start-here-how-to-get-your-book-published/

Good luck!

Three Writerly Blogs for You to Visit

Crocuses --Spring must really be here!
Crocuses –Spring must really be here!

Today I thought I’d pass along three of the writerly resources that I visit often.

One of my favourite blogs is by Kristi Holl, author of Writer’s First Aid, More Writer’s First Aid, and many other books. Aside from blogs on the craft of writing, Kristi shares her extensive reading and insights into the other aspects of the writer’s life that can get in the way of creativity, such as procrastination, writer’s block, dealing with rejection, solitude and toxic friends. You name an issue that writers deal with and she’s covered it. I always find her blogs inspiring. http://kristiholl.net/writers-blog/

The title of Jane Friedman’s blog, Writing, Reading and Publishing in the Digital Age, says it all. The site is a wonderful resource for writers tackling the challenge of getting published or self-publishing. Jane tackles topics from query letters to author platforms and blogging, from how-to-publish an ebook to marketing, and a lot more.

The last blog on the list today is from Elizabeth Spann Craig, a traditionally- and self-published mystery writer, whose regular posts cover all aspects of the writer’s craft. Every week she creates a list of the writing-related blog posts that she’s found in her research and posted on Twitter. This weekly round-up, called Twitterific, is like having your own personal writer’s magazine delivered to your door every week. There really is something for everyone on the list. http://elizabethspanncraig.com/blog/

Hope you have fun checking out these blogs and that you find something in them that will help you on your writer’s journey. If you have any inspiring or informative blogs that you’d like to share, please add their links in the comments below.

Wishing you a creative week ahead!

Self-Publishing – My Experience & Lessons Learned

A Tagxedo view of my website.
A Tagxedo view of my website.

I have fumbled my way through self-publishing over the past few years. Trying things, making mistakes, seeing how things turn out. Thought I’d share a bit of that experience.

I’ve used a couple of publishers since I started self-publishing. Right now I’m using CreateSpace  https://www.createspace.com/ and Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) https://kdp.amazon.com/kdp/self-publishing/signin?language=en_US  After I finish setting up my book in CreateSpace, I can choose for it to be sent to Amazon KDP (they are the same company.) CreateSpace will also send it to other epub distributors, too. Both services are free, though CreateSpace offers services like custom cover designs, copyediting, and marketing for a fee, if you want to take advantage of them.

I’m using CreateSpace for my second edition of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens, and I’m fine with having them distribute it to Amazon and other sellers, such as Kobo. For my sequel to The Dragon’s Pearl, I’m going to go with CreateSpace and KDP only. There are some promotion options with KDP that are only available if it is the exclusive distributor for a set period of time. I’d like to try those promotions, so I’m going to give that option a try for my fiction. For 201 Writing Starters, I went to Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/ . They had a very easy-to-use product and also provide a free service. If I do another edition of the book, I will probably go through CreateSpace, though, because it offers free cover design options that I prefer to use rather than coming up with my own.

The first edition of Writing Fiction was published through iUniverse, a vanity press. I wouldn’t choose that route now for a couple of reasons. First, I want to earn more money per sale, and royalties are much better on my own. Second, I am more confident about being able to format a book that would look professional, and third, I know a lot more about the industry. I was lucky in that I took advantage of a sale offer at iUniverse and didn’t spend money on extras, and I can say that I have earned my money back. A few writers I know who took the vanity press route have realized they will never earn their money back.

I got the templates for the interiors of the dragon books and Writing Fiction – Second Edition from Joel Friedlander http://www.thebookdesigner.com/ at a very reasonable cost. You can see inside the book here to see what one of his formats looks like: http://www.amazon.com/Dragons-Pearl-Heather-Elizabeth-Wright/dp/1483954021

If you’re thinking of the self-publishing route, be aware of the new trend among traditional publishers to have their own vanity press. They make it look like you’re working with Simon & Schuster for instance, but you’re really paying to have your book published with a vanity press that is part of a large company with a very poor reputation. Read this blog from Writer Beware®: The Blog to get the details: http://accrispin.blogspot.ca/2012/11/archway-publishing-simon-schuster-adds.html To make sure that you are working with a reputable company always check Preditors & Editors, an excellent site that has a listing of publishers/agents along with recommendations and cautions.  http://pred-ed.com/

To end on a more positive note, here’s a link to a great blog post from Jane Friedman with a lot of helpful links to help you make some decisions about your publishing future.  http://janefriedman.com/2012/01/28/start-here-how-to-get-your-book-published/

Good luck!

Writerly Links Worth Visiting

I’ve listed below a few links that I think you’ll enjoy exploring. Have fun!

The title of this one is self explanatory: The Top 100 Creative Writing Blogs. I’m sure you’ll see a lot of old friends here and enjoy making new ones: http://yaminatoday.com/2012/07/07/the-top-100-creative-writing-blogs/

Make it a habit to drop by Debbie Ohi’s Inkygirl site for fun writerly comics, interviews and tips for kidlit and YA authors and illustrators:  http://inkygirl.com/

This is just one of Jane Friedman’s great writing tips: Perfecting Your First Page: 3 Tasks or Exercises:  http://janefriedman.com/2012/04/23/perfecting-your-first-page/

David Carnoy provides a great overview of self-publishing options in How to Self-Publish an eBook: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-18438_7-20010547-82/how-to-self-publish-an-ebook/

If you’re a new or experienced freelancer, Paul Lima will have answers for your questions. Just check the categories down the side to get the info you need. http://paullima.com/blog/

If you have any writerly links that you want to recommend, too, please share them in the comments.

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