Saturday, August 28, 2010

So You Want To Be An Author?

Yeah. Me too. It's my lifelong dream to publish a book. Preferably a children's picture book, or a book of poems (which yeah, big market for those, right?), or a novel. I supposed I'd better get going...

These days - ANYONE can be an author (ugh, I shudder to think!). Obviously, there's blogging. Which is one way to share your writing. But please, folks, blogging platforms have SPELL checkers! Use them! They don't catch everything, but they help!

But what I really want to talk about is the self-published BOOK. Now, of course, having a publishing company like Simon & Shuster or Zondervan publish your book FOR you is the ultimate goal. But in the meantime, if you really need to get your words out there, or if you have an ultra-small niche market, or if you plan to pound the pavement yourself to market your book to bookstores...

I give you... (drumroll, please):


Blurb is a print-on-demand website that allows you to make (and sell) bookstore-quality books online. You design your book with their software, and upload text, photos. And then order your books - 1 copy, 2 copies, 2,000 copies? They can do it. Hardcover, softcover - there's several options.
Here are some other features (from their website facts):
  • 4-color printing
  • Two finishes – matte or lustre.
  • Prices start at just US $4.95.
  • Order one book or many. Volume discounts apply.
  • Variety of sizes.
  • Three cover options: Softcover; Hardcover, Dust Jacket; or Hardcover, ImageWrap
  • Fast Turnaround — your book will arrive in approximately 7 to 10 business days (wow!)
I have a book that was created on Blurb - a local CT artist created a watercolor picture book version of Old MacDonald Had a Farm and a friend gave it to me at my baby shower. It's beautiful and very high quality. I would've NEVER thought it had been self-published! Highly professional.

You can also published your blog as a book if you want - selecting posts you like and compile a book that way...I may just have to do this someday... I do have some children's book texts waiting for me to submit to publishers... maybe I will become a DIY author...

What about you? Got a book idea? Do you know of other online print-on-demand resources you can share? Comment below!

Happy Writing!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Top Ten Ways You Can Use Lists in Writing

As I wrote previously, list-making is the number one skill that can help a writer write. Now I want to show you all the kinds of writing that are, essentially, lists.
  1. Brainstorming - lists of ideas
  2. How To - list the steps to do something
  3. Recipes - list ingredients and directions in the order they are needed
  4. Outlines - are highly detailed lists (sometimes, not that detailed)
  5. Essays - essentially expanded lists, prose lists!
  6. Top 10 Lists - why, gee, that's what this is - a list!
  7. Poetry - a carefully ordered list with carefully chosen words. But in fact, there are "list poems" like Raymond Carver's "Fear," which are quite fun to create and quite effective at getting your point across.
  8. Short Stories - Basically written off a list - you can consider a story map / story line to be a list created horizontally instead of vertically - it still has a linear flow
  9. Review Writing - again done in prose, but mostly a list of what the reviewer liked and didn't like
  10. Charts - organizing data into meaningful lists - a pro/con chart, a compare/contrast chart
I hope you find list making becomes your "go-to" strategy when writing any piece. Share with me how you have used lists to help you write!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The ONE Skill Every Writer Can Use

There's ONE basic skill in writing that can help all writers, everywhere, anytime. I firmly believe this.

That skill is... LIST MAKING.

Making lists can help your writing. All your writing. Any piece of writing.

Watch me:

1. I don't know what to write - I make a list.
2. I want to organize what I write - I make a list and move pieces around.
3. I want to categorize what I write - I make groups of lists.
4. I want to change what I write - I make a list of possible options, alternate titles, synonyms, etc.

See.... list making is essential to every major kind of writing. I prefer lists to webs for brainstorming any day. Lists are linear - you can look back and see how one idea led to the next... you can follow the path. With a web, your ideas end up all over the place, and looking back, it's not always clear what you were thinking when you went from one idea to the next. With a list, you can backtrack and add on, because you can clearly see the connections (I suppose a Tree would also be a form of list making with extensions, but much more organized than a web).

Whenever you need to write ANYTHING, make a list to get started, organize, categorize your thoughts. List making can help you start and finish any kind of writing!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The ONE Word You Should Almost Always Edit OUT!

Phew! What a long post title. But it would've been LONGER had I not followed my own advice about "The ONE Word You Should Almost Always Edit OUT"

You see, the ONE word is (drumroll, please)... that.

What's the word?

That's the word.

I'm asking YOU what the word is! Okay... I'll quit before I end up plagiarizing the "Who's On First" skit.

But, seriously, writers, the one word you can almost always edit out is the word "that."

I could've written my title as "The one word THAT you should almost always edit out." And that (correct usage) wording would've been acceptable usage, per se, but simply NOT necessary!

Why should you remove most of the "that's" from your writing?

1. Most of the time "that" is not essential to the sentence - it's filler, fluff, verbosity.
2. Most of the time the rule for "that" is not being followed correctly, so let's review. WHEN is it acceptable to use "that"?
  • If you're telling WHICH ONE - "The book that I borrowed is back on the shelf." (which book? the one that I borrowed).
  • If you need "that" in order to be clear - "She felt that her hair was disheveled." If you remove "that," then you have "She felt her hair..." which is confusing!
Here is an example of unnecessary use of "that":
  • I knew that I had a long day tomorrow. (NO, NO, NO! This is incorrect - I am not talking about WHICH ONE, so the use of "that" is unnecessary!). Just say "I knew I had a long day tomorrow."
Be concise. Be clear! Go through your writing and remove the offending "that's!"

Saturday, June 05, 2010

It's been awhile...

It's been awhile...
since I posted on this blog
since I have slept through the entire night
since I fit into my regular clothes
since I have been able to listen to an entire church service in the auditorium
since I have had a baby in the house...

I have been somewhat remiss in keeping up with this blog but I am ALWAYS thinking, "I should blog that!" I always think I will the next day and then it never happens.
Well, that's having a baby for ya! Actually though, Matthew & I have been doing a lot of blogging on my other mommy/daddy blog, which is dedicated to our experiences and growing "expertise" in parenting. (newbie expertise!).

But I do want to get back to my general blogging, writing poems, prompts etc. Just thought I'd leave this quick one here just to touch base.


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