Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Vocabulary

My, What Big Words You Use
by Lisa Lickel

When I first started on the path to publication, one of my lessons was about keeping a notebook of new and unusual words, to constantly update my vocabulary and find exactly the right word for each character, setting, scene, dialogue to convey the tone of my piece. Some of the best literary minds practiced this technique, searching through their journals for the perfect nuance. I’ve been in love with words ever since I first learned in a spelling bee that “ence” endings are Greek and “ance” are Latin origin. When I kept failing spelling tests in junior high, I realized eventually, because I read so many British novels. As a medical transcriptionist in a county office, I kept a wipe board of “word of the day” at my desk.

Read any book from the 1940s, 50s or 60s. We’ve lost so much of our vocabulary.

I’m one of those readers who delights in discovering a new or unusual word. I grew up taking the Reader’s Digest vocabulary challenge on a monthly basis, and I still have dictionaries planted all over my house. I generally don’t mind stopping to write something down or look something up while I’m reading, or at least after the exciting part slows down. A unique turn of phrase makes me quiver in ecstasy and jealousy that I didn’t come up with it first.

I used my vocabulary notebook in my first attempt at a literary novel. I got out my big(ger) guns and poked in a few multi-syllabic words here and there, like
·         liminal
·         cerulean
·         commodious

After all, one of my main characters was a lawyer. My crit partner righteously called me on whether or not a guy would seriously think in terms of “cerulean,” as in, did my author voice intrude? Maybe it did, but the word felt right and I kept it. The editor for my project slashed a few of my voluptuous babes, but left others, then the publisher knocked the book into the romance category. I got dinged by a few sassafras-drinking critics in the reviews for using too big words that made the reader stumble. I say, “look ’em up!”

Using the perfect word can evoke multiple sensations. Words like
·         lilac
·         crepuscular
·         effervescent

What feelings, scents, sounds, emotions, do those kinds of words create for your readers?

Authors read.
It’s a requirement of the job.

While on vacation with long driving spells, I read through seven books. In one of them, and probably the second-to-last place I thought I’d find anything like this, were some of the best, coolest, most funky words I remember being used in pop commercial fiction of late.

How did the first-time author get those past the editor? Hoo-rah! I have to slap him a high-five at least. The book was Through the Fire by debut author Shawn Grady. And I do intend to go hence and find his sequel. I wrote down a few words, two of which I had a vague idea that I’d remembered at least hearing about before.

Some of those words are:
·         Piceous – glossy brownish black in color
·         Coruscating – glitter, be brilliant

·         Cruor – coagulated blood

I Challenge: Find a couple of those Big Words in the next book you read. Try to fit some awesome words in the next book you write.
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Monday, April 21, 2014

Spotlight on Small Publishers: Port Yonder Press

Port Yonder Press isn't new to the business. Chila Woychik, owner and Editor-in-Chief, has produced several award winning novels. She has eclectic tastes, but always wants and expects excellence.

Here's what she has to say:

1. Why did you choose to open your own publishing company?

In a nutshell, our son had grown up and left home for college, I loved reading, writing, and editing, and someone told me about the world of small press publishing - I was hooked!

2. How do you see your role in the current industry?--competing? providing a service? filling a neglected niche?

I feel we do all 3 at PYP:  

- we compete with other small presses, especially in the editing department and producing quality books

- we provide books for discriminating readers who want something more

- and we're tackling one of the hardest niches in the business: that between overt Christian and hardcore mainstream - I call it "crossover"

3. What does your publishing house have to offer the author?

Small presses are a hard sell, no question about that, but if, in the end, we publish a book the author can be proud of for the rest of his or her life, we've met our goal. 

4. What genre/style are you most interested in? What are you looking for?

Our tastes are quite diverse, and we love many genres; they're listed on our website. A few favorites are strange genre mashups (a mix of several genres), slipstream, spy/mystery/suspense, urban fantasy and soft science fiction. 

5. How does an author submit to you? (And when?)

February only! Short query via email and first three chapters included in text of query (no attachments). If an author doesn't hear from us within 30 days, we hope they try again next year.  

We're a bit unique, and it would do authors well to get a feel for who we are before they submit.
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Friday, April 18, 2014

Building a Platform by Kevin B Parsons

In order to sell a jillion books, you must first have a platform. What is a platform, you ask? It's a raised wooden deck.


I have no idea what that has to do with book sales, but perhaps you should stand on it and yell, "Buy my book!"

What you really need is a lot of followers. A LOT. A bazillion. Much more than a jillion. Kevin here will give you some clever methods to get the word out that you've written a blockbuster.

First, get Facebook followers, then cross over to every social media. Next, say something controversial. Something like, "I believe we should give monkeys the right to vote."


That will generate hype, and hype is good. You never know how many monkeys may end up buying your book, too.

The social media is going video, so make a great clip. If you can write and choreograph a killer song, like "What Does the Fox Say?" it will make you rich and famous.


Perhaps a song like, "What Does the Monkey Say?" Forget that. You already have the monkeys. Puppies, kittens and chocolate can take right off, so use one of them. Or all  of them. How about a song; "What Does the Puppy and Kitty Say When They Eat Chocolate?" That will generate interest! 50,000 people will contact you and tell you not to give chocolate to dogs.

And now (drumroll please), the three best methods to generate a MASSIVE following. Number three:
Have a close brush with death. It worked for Ronald Reagan.


He got shot and next thing you know everyone talked about it. Get some fake blood, a good friend, and stage a drive by shooting. He drives by, shoots at you with blanks, you bite on the blood capsule. Lie still. When  the reporters show up, hold your book just below your chin. They will love that! You'll be on the news. Don't forget bail money.

Number two: Fake your death. Start rumors that you're missing, presumed dead. It worked for Paul McCartney and for Mark Twain.

 

Who could forget Twain's great quote; "The reports of my death were exaggerated."? And wouldn't you want to be a Beatle?

And finally, the number one best method to generate a MASSIVE following is to die. It's worked for a plethora of writers, singers, actors and sports figures. Shoot, Elvis Presley brings in forty million a year even now, and Tom Clancy sold more books the year after he died than the year before.


I made that up, but I'm pretty sure he did. Of course, there's a huge down side to Number One, but hey, you're selling books.

So get out there and build your platform.

Better go to Lowe's first.





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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Guest Post: Target Marketing with Joseph Young

Save Your Story from Obscurity
By Joseph Young

So, you wrote a book, got it proofread and edited, and published it to Kindle. That's awesome! Now what? Perhaps, you are sitting back and waiting for the sales to come rushing in now that you are an accomplished self-published author, right? Well, you may be sitting there for a long time.


One of the biggest downfalls a product creator can make is creating a product without knowing who it is for. The same problem exists with authors too because they write books, which are products, without knowing who their audience is. I did.

You may be thinking, "I am writing for young adults!" But, the question is, "Who are these young adults and what do you know about them?"

1. Are they male or female?
2. How old are they?
3. Where do they live in the world?
4. What kind of books do they read?
5. What format do they like to read these books in: audio, digital or paperback?
6. What colors do they like? Yes, that is a valid question because people still judge books by their cover. Everyone has a favorite color. Do authors know what those colors are and are they able to use them in their cover in order to attract the reader?

In a recent webinar, book marketing experts Karen Risch and Vicki St. George shared some invaluable information every author needs to think about. One thing they discussed was knowing your target audience. 

An Author's Target Audience 



Every author needs to get clear on their message and the audience to whom the message is for. Without clarity, the author may lose the race before they get out of the gate. Authors are encouraged to boil down their book's message into one sentence. In fact, try boiling it down into one word! 

Knowing who your target audience is shapes the message of the book, or should. How many authors even consider their target readers before writing their novels? Most, without thought, just write without any target audience research.

Who are the competitors? Who is already reaching your target reader and what are those readers saying about their books? Searching Amazon and looking at reviews is one way to answer this question.

How will authors get their books into the hands of their readers? This point is where multitudes of online authors miss the mark completely and go astray. Without an online platform an author will gain no EXPOSURE. Every author needs exposure. No exposure means no readership and no readership means no sales; the author is living in obscurity. 

The only escape to this tragic disposition is for authors to rescue their own story from obscurity by stopping the non-beneficial marketing practices and establishing an online platform. The platform begins with a center stage called a website, a must have in today's world. The key to establishing this successful platform is wrapped up in one word -- story. 

An author's platform is like the front page of a newspaper. The front page is where the most important news is placed. In the old days, the paper boy shouted, "Extra, extra, Read All About It!" Afterwards, they spoke the headline in order to attract curious readers to buy the paper. 




So, you wrote a book, got it proofread, edited, and published to Kindle, but have you created a story that will attract the right audience, convert them to subscribers, and create an opportunity for a book sale? The story is your paperboy shouting, "Extra, Extra!"


Joseph Young
Author of Upcoming Book
Story Above the Fold
Combine Storytelling & Website Design to Capture Your target Audience
storyabovethefold-at-gmail.com


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Monday, April 14, 2014

Little Did She Know...

It's often the last line in a chapter. That little sentence as a teaser to make sure the reader turns the page, or swipes the screen. It's called foreshadowing. I'm not a fan of foreshadowing. Many famous authors use it. That doesn't mean it's a good idea. (I have a theory that famous authors get paid by the word so they end up using them in excess.)

I don't want to know what comes next before it happens. I want the action to play out in proper time sequence. Knowing that Jane is going to drive into a ditch before it happens spoils the read for me. I may have figured it out anyway from the text but I don't want a narrator jumping in to tell me. Remember show don't tell?

Have you seen good movie trailers then watched the movie only to find that the best scenes were in the trailer and the rest of the movie was just bad or ordinary? If the movie had been well written, shot and edited this wouldn't happen. I'm not saying that all foreshadowing necessarily means weak writing. If you feel like you need a teaser at the end of a chapter do you need to go back and strengthen the scenes so you feel more confident that your reader will be unable to put the book or tablet down?

Foreshadowing prologues or chapters aren't my favorite way of reading the beginning of a novel either. It spoils the suspense until you get past what you know will happen. I'm not sure why authors do this. How about starting with the scene then supply the back story through the characters' thoughts and dialogue?

Just as I'm not much interested in fortunetelling, foreshadowing pretty much leaves me cold.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Things a Little Bird Told Me

I believe Twitter is one of the coolest inventions ever, and a great resource for writers. Recently I read Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind by Biz Stone and really enjoyed it. The book chronicles a little bit about his history (working as an illustrator for a publisher, going to Google, then working on Blogger) and then gets into the meat of how Twitter started and grew. Stone is a wonderful storyteller, and seems genuine in his desire to have people connect. I think this is truly the key behind Twitter and what makes it successful.


Personally, I prefer Twitter to other social medium platforms because it’s an instant resource, you can converse without the “noise” that’s found on Facebook, and it fits in perfecting with blogging. When I hear other authors complain about the site, I have to wonder what makes my experience so different. I think it’s this: I use Twitter to help me connect to readers and not just talk at them. I think authors are too focused on “selling their books” and not on the social part of social media, which is showing your personality. While I do also tweet out links to my articles and books, I do a lot of conversing. I’m not on there to sell, that’s a byproduct for sure, but my goal is to be out there chatting about things going on, like TV shows, news, crafts (yes, I chat about that), and other things that interest me.

Stone’s book was fascinating because he isn’t a “techie dude” in the traditional sense. His role in Twitter was largely making it functional, looking at it from the user’s perspective, and being transparent with some of the early difficulties of the site. I appreciated his candor with things like Twitter’s constant “over capacity” warnings and some of the issues they faced in building the site and getting users on board.

As an author, I liked the discussions about creativity and human connection as well. This book wasn’t about a “cold” subject like technology without the human experience, it was about building a business and having a desire for that business and brand to do good in the world. I think authors can relate to this aspiration. Very often we write because we genuinely want to make a positive influence on the world, and this desire drives our decisions. Stone saw the potential in Twitter to do just that early on, and helped nurture it into the culturally important site it is today.

Personally, Twitter is my #1 non-search engine source of referrals. Globally, it’s helped people in remote or challenged parts of the world receive and tweet out news events. It’s expanded free speech and created a new way for us to search for and share information. I believe authors will be inspired from the book and look at the importance of Twitter in an entirely new way. 


__________________________________________________________

Cherie Burbach specializes in writing about lifestyle and relationships. Visit her website for more info.
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Inspiration for the Senses

Google Free Images

My daughter recently held one of those home parties for flame-less burners and scented candle wax. I got my usual headache sniffing all the samples, but couldn't believe it when I ran across one that said "Tomato Vine". The fragrance put me right smack in the middle of a garden, among the tomato plants. Talk about inspiration! I promptly sniffed through even more samples to see what might relate and inspire me in my current WIP. I bought a few in a car fragrance card format and put them in baggies. I'll whip out my scents when I need some inspiration.

This reminded me that one of our local critique group members collects paint chip cards to help her with color descriptions.
Google Free Images
 The color names alone are romantic and inspiring. You might not actually use Asian Pear green, or Silver Spoon gray, but it might inspire you to a more in depth description. 

What are some helps that you use to flesh out your scenes with the five senses?

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How To Spot a Writer

If you chance upon an author, you're in luck. Seeing writers in public is like sighting a gazelle in New York City. Using my simple tips, you may be able to catch a glimpse of an actual writer in public.

The easiest one to find is the Scholarly Writer. Look for button down sweaters with leather patches on the elbows and a pipe with cherry smelling smoke. Women Scholarly Writers stand out quite a bit.

Suppose you're on an elevator and two people are talking in animated voices about how to poison their spouses. Another scenario could be a couple of them at an outdoor table at a cafe, a glass of sherry in their hands, discussing the bombing of an airport. These are Suspense Writers, of course. Or very dangerous people.

Another species of this very unusual group is the Children's Book Writer. They can often be found carrying a bright yellow umbrella with a blue border on a sunny day. Listen the their conversation. If it sounds something like, "You could ride a yak... on  a tack... with a fellow named Jack," chances are good you've encountered the CBW. You may want to lock up your valuables and keep your kids within reach in case it isn't.

Should you see someone on the street holding a handkerchief and dabbing their eyes at regular intervals, chances are good you've spotted a Romance Writer. Look to the object  of their attention, and you'll see either a super hot male model with his shirt unbuttoned, an Amish woman who just fell off the curb while a handsome gentleman helps her to her feet, or a puppy. Sniff.

The easiest author to identify is the Perfectionist Writer. Quite easy to see, as they have square red marks on their forehead, nose and cheeks. That's from pounding their heads against the keyboard.

But the most common authors, simply known as Writes, can almost never be seen. They are hidden away in bedrooms, dens, family rooms, bedrooms and kitchens. If you can possibly get near their lair, look for them in the position. Butt on the seat, hands on the keyboard, eyes locked onto the screen. They may assume that position for long hours or days, occasionally coming out of their stupor for brief moments of food and drink. It's best to leave them alone.





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Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Book Review: Thomas Nelson's WWII Author

Book Review of Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma
Thomas Nelson’s WWII author
Harper Collins Christian
Product Details
August 2013
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Ebook 9.99
Pbook 15.99
ISBN: 978-1401689100


ABOUT THE BOOK:
 A stranger’s life hangs in the balance. But to save him is to risk everything.
The war is drawing to a close, but the Nazis still occupy part of the Netherlands. After the losses she’s endured, war widow Cornelia is only a shadow of the woman she once was. She fights now to protect her younger brother, Johan, who lives in hiding.
When Johan brings Gerrit Laninga, a wounded Dutch Resistance member, to Cornelia’s doorstep, their lives are forever altered. Although scared of the consequences of harboring a wanted man, Cornelia’s faith won’t let her turn him out. As she nurses Gerrit back to health, she is drawn to his fierce passion and ideals, and notices a shift within herself. Gerrit’s intensity challenges her, making her want to live fully, despite the fear that constrains her. When the opportunity to join him in the Resistance presents itself, Cornelia must summon every ounce of courage imaginable. She is as terrified of loving Gerrit as she is of losing him. But as the winter landscape thaws, so too does her heart. Will she get a second chance at true love? She fears their story will end before it even begins.
MY REVIEW:
Snow on the Tulips draws the reader into the deprivation, stress and terror of everyday life under Nazi occupation. Even good people with good intentions are fearful of doing more than the bare minimum of good works; those serving the resistance are afraid but willing to sacrifice themselves to help those who cannot help themselves. When the two sides meet, the clash means uncomfortable compromise or ultimate sacrifice.
Told through the eyes of Cornelia, her sister Anki, and Gerrit, the love interest, the story unfolds toward the end of WWII in occupied Netherlands. Cornelia barely had a chance to experience adult life when she was widowed; Anki married a man of uncompromising faith which rendered him untrustworthy to those who broke the law; Gerrit’s recklessness was borne of betrayal and helplessness to protect a family member. Each has internal demons to fight, besides the enemy’s destruction of the life they knew before the war. Forgiveness is at best difficult, but it’s a joy to watch Cornelia overcome her prejudices and grow into a woman who is capable of living the life to which she’s called.

What I loved most about this story is that it comes from family history. Tolsma draws upon stories from her relatives, from the cousin whose husband went to war the day after the wedding, to the man who survived a group execution, to the copious interviews and dedicated details, Snow on the Tulips is historical dramatic romance of high caliber.

Product DetailsThe second book in the series which releases May 2014, Daisies Are Forever, is now available for pre-order.

Gisela must hold on to hope and love despite all odds in the midst of a war-torn country.
Gisela Cramer is an American living in eastern Germany with her cousin Ella Reinhardt. When the Red Army invades, they must leave their home to escape to safety in Berlin.



  
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Liz Tolsma has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, and she now resides next to a farm field with her husband, their son, and their two daughters. Add a dog and a cat to that mix and there's always something going on at their house. She’s spent time teaching second grade, writing advertising for a real estate company, and working as a church secretary, but she always dreamed of becoming an author. When not busy putting words to paper, she enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family. She'd love to have you visit her at www.liztolsma.com or at www.liztolsma.blogspot.com.
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