A Parcel Filled with Inspiration

Today something wonderful happened – I received a copy of a “test” publication, which had my name on the front cover. It was more than a little exciting, I must admit, even though the story within the covers is not really published as I only used it to experiment with Lulu’s software and it certainly cannot be purchased by anyone but me.

Next year, I will be going through the steps on a real publication – the Speculative Realm anthology – and I wanted to know what to expect. I especially wanted to be 100% sure that what I saw on the computer screen is what the purchaser received…and I wasn’t disappointed in that respect. In fact, my mock up of a cover turned out exceptionally well and I don’t have an artistic bone in my body. I’m quite pleased with myself right now.

I can’t wait to show the book to my parents. I think my mother will have a fit when she realises what she’s looking at. That moment will be priceless… 😀

The one thing that I can tell you is that receiving this very special parcel has done something else too. It has given me a wonderful boost of inspiration and motivation. Because now…more than ever before…I want to see a “real” book with my name on the cover!

The People of Miu Series

Over recent weeks I’ve felt a little overwhelmed with the amount of things I have needed to do. On top of this I became ill, which didn’t help with motivation or energy to do these things.

However, most of those issues have been dealt with (including the illness) and I suddenly find myself in the position to start thinking about my writing again. With the coming of November (and NaNoWriMo) just around the corner, I have decided to set another public goal.

This goal is geared at getting my children’s series – The People of Miu – completed in first draft (although the first book is in the final stages of polishing before being ready for publication and book two will be entering the third draft stage soon).

In November this year I want to write the third (and final) book in my children’s series. I know how the story ends, but that’s about the extent of my plans for the manuscript at the moment. As I’m a planner and not a “seat of the pants” writer, more planning has to be done prior to writing the first draft. And…as this is the third book in the series, I want to tie the three books together.

I decided to develop a story arc for the first two books – noting the characters and main events of each scene together with hints for the future books. I’ve completed the arc for the first book – Cat’s Eyes – and intend to work on the arc for the second book – Cat’s Paw – this weekend (which is a long weekend).

Once these two arcs are complete, I will give myself until the end of October to have a workable plan for book three – Cat’s Whiskers – so that writing of the first draft can commence on 1 November. The first draft will be completed by the end of November.

The “RL Technique” J.K. Rowling Uses To Hook Her Readers

by Jared Myers

The “RL Technique” J K Rowling uses to grab readers by the eyeballs and forces them to re-read her books again and again.

I’ll show you how it practically gives away all her best kept secrets and how you can use it to keep your own readers hanging on your every word.

You’ve probably heard the stories about the kid who hated reading, picked up one of Jo’s books and now he can’t stop reading them. Maybe the same thing happened to you.

But did you ever stop to wonder WHY you can’t stop reading them?

I’ll tell you. It’s a little secret Jo uses in her writing. I call it the “RL Technique.”

What is the RL Technique? The RL Technique is a lethal combination of 1.) Repetition and 2.) Layering that practically forces a reader to re-read books again and again. Especially when the technique is used in writing a series of books.

Here’s why: Many Fantasy novels have few or no boundaries. The dialogue might be realistic. But the characters can do almost anything they want, because there’s always some magical spell that makes it all possible. (And that’s part of the excitement of reading Fantasy. That’s what makes these types of books such an escape for us.)

But this idea of “no limits” can be used as a cheap trick, too.

The last thing you want as a reader is to come to the resolution of a great book. And say to yourself, “Okay now, let’s just see how she’ll get out of this one.” And the author’s lame explanation is, “Well, there’s a spell that takes care of that problem.”

It’s a cheap trick. And it’s sloppy writing.

Jo’s technique of repetition and layering works better.

Let me show you how it works: You remember the first time you read Sorcerer’s Stone? And you remember the part where Harry’s at the zoo talking to the snake? But no one thought anything of it until Book 2, when we found out that most wizards can’t speak to snakes like we thought they could.

And I’m sure you remember the part in Book 2 when Harry, Ron and Hermione drank the Polyjuice Potion that turned them into Crabbe, Goyle and Milicent Bullstrode’s cat? (Sorry, Hermione.) But we didn’t think anything of it until Book 4, when Barty Crouch Junior used the same trick to turn himself into Mad-Eye Moody.

Well, that’s good use of repetition.

You remember the time Draco Malfoy went into Borgin and Burke’s, and wanted his father to buy him the Hand of Glory? And we didn’t see it again until Book 6.

You probably also remember the heavy locket that Harry, Ron and Hermione came across while cleaning Grimmauld Place 12? But we didn’t think anything of it until Book 6, when we started looking at possible Horcruxes.

Well, that’s good use of layering.

This way Jo forces you to go back and search her books for clues. And you can use this technique in your own writing.

In Jo’s own words she explained:

  • “[The reason Book 5 is so long is because] there’s information in there that you really do need to know otherwise people will feel cheated when certain outcomes happen.” [1]
  • “I had to put in some things because of what’s coming in books 6 and 7 and I didn’t want anyone to say to me ‘what a cheat you never gave us clues’. If I didn’t mention things in Order of the Phoenix I think you’ve said ‘well, you sprang that on us’! Whereas I want you to be able to guess if you’ve got your wits about you.” [2] And speaking of Thestrals she said, “If Harry had seen them and it had not been explained then it would cheat the reader. [3]

You see? Jo *wants* you to have to work hard to “get” her books. She doesn’t want you to be able to solve them until after you’ve read Book 7. But she has promised readers that the answers are there.

She wants you to read Book 7, see the resolution, and slap yourself on the forehead when you realize, “Oh, yeah; she did say something about that all the way back in Book 1!”

She’s compelled to write her books this way. Because it’s a game for her. And she doesn’t want you to feel cheated.

And here’s the good news: You can beat Jo at her own “game”…if you’ve got your wits about you go to my resource box now, and I’ll show you how.

[1] Couric, Katie. Interview with J.K. Rowling. Dateline NBC, 20 June 2003.

[2] Fry, Stephen, interviewer: J.K. Rowling at the Royal Albert Hall, 26 June 2003.

[3] Fry, Stephen, interviewer: J.K. Rowling at the Royal Albert Hall, 26 June 2003.

If you’ve got questions about Harry Potter 7, I’ve got more answers for you. A lot more answers. You’ll find them here at http://www.book7answers.com/t2-index.php

About the Author:
Jared Myers is a former Private Investigator who uses his puzzle-solving techniques to bring you hard to find information.

Found the Culprit

Apart from the fatal error messages, I was unable to delete posts and/or comments. You may have noticed a couple of test comments I made last week, which I never deleted…that was because I couldn’t. After finding the new path to the control panel, I decided to “repair” the database once again using the new tools and see if it made a difference. I noticed straight away that things were acting more normal than before.

I then deactivated all the plugins and reset the template to the default and did some “testing”. Everything worked fine (although in that half hour without “protection” I received in excess of 40 spam comments – grumble, mumble). I returned to this theme and still everything worked just fine. I activated one plugin at a time until the culprit was found – the archives plugin.

I know that the plugin wasn’t the only problem I had before, but it is now, so I’ve deactivated it. It’s a shame, because I love that plugin (in a platonic sort of way, of course). I liked the way it listed all the postings by name, but I suppose with so many posts it’s bound to end up causing a problem. I’ll now return to the simple month and category listing only.

Drastic Action Required

My host has finished the upgrade and I have upgraded WordPress and still the fatal error messages are appearing. I have also noticed that the website is periodically offline too and at these times there’s a database error message coming up.

I know the problem will not fix itself and I can’t just leave things how they are because it is bound to end up getting worse, which means I have no other options (as far as I know) than to create a new database and move the blog over to it before deleting the existing database. (I have attempted to repair the existing database several times already.)

*sigh*

At this stage, I am going to attempt doing this in a few hours time. I will proceed with the knowledge that I might lose everything and if that happens…so be it. I did manage to get a backup of the site on the weekend. Whether or not that backup is clean or not I will not find out until the time comes to restore.

If, by chance, I do lose everything then I will simply start again…no tears, no anger, no worries. Well, that’s the plan anyway. I keep telling myself “not to sweat the small stuff” and this really isn’t worth my worry.

Write Nonfiction With Passion: Four Steps To Emotionally Charge Your Article

by Catherine Franz

You have completed the draft of an article, but it seems flat and lifeless, even to you. It needs to have the spark that ignites that all important emotional connection to your readers but you are at a loss as to how to spruce it up.

Breathing life into a nonfiction article is tough, especially if it doesn’t include a character or an emotional storyline.

If you have written an article from your own personal experience, perhaps you have already included emotionally charged language. Then all you need to do is ask, “Does the article have enough emotionally charged language to touch my readers, to pull them in, to keep them reading, to move them to action or possibly a conclusion?”

Why would you even want to add emotion to a nonfiction article? Adding emotion to your writing, any type of writing, fuels the reader’s attention, helps them connect with the action. It gives the reader an experience. Experience is why people go to the movies or watch TV. More importantly, it keeps them reading.

What does emotionally charged mean exactly? Emotionally charged means using language that stirs the reader in some form. When and how frequently emotions need to occur depends on your article’s subject, tone, and angle. Yes, even tone matters in a nonfiction article. Is it to be terse, confident, or are you talking as an expert? Maybe it’s a learning tone? From a previous student-now-teacher. An informing tone, usually overused in nonfiction, turns off readers if used consistently, like in a column, or multiple articles, on your web site, or in a newsletter.

Step 1: Find the Emotion

Begin by defining what main emotion you want the reader to feel or to understand. Were you peeved about something and it set off the writing of an article? Maybe you saw a wrong and want to set the record straight, or to convey a different truth, one from your perspective. Is it compassion-oriented or spiritually based? Maybe you want to convey an inspirational or motivating tone. Is it love that you want to convey? Love for a topic. Love for a hobby or something you’re passionate about. Your love, someone else’s, the world’s, how much love do you want to send out?

You can limit the number of emotions according to the word count. Here’s a common calculation: under 600, one emotion. Under 1200, two. Over 1800, three or four.

You can choose the emotion you want before the first draft. Yet, many writers, including this writer, prefer to add emotion during the second draft or first edit.

Close your eyes and feel your own inner self on your topic. Find the emotion, the tone, give it one or two words, and then write it in the article’s margin for easy access. If it’s a personal experience, think back to that time, reconnect with that emotion. Did you feel numb, affection, anguish, excitement, shame, guilt, remorse, violent? How about confused?

One of the many reasons I love writing marketing articles is because I see so much misinformation on the topic and it riles my feathers. When this occurs, I write from this emotion and that language naturally flows into the article. Since this isn’t the emotion I want to convey to my readers, I rewrite a second draft in the emotion that I truly want to convey. Usually, from a more loving and patient perspective.

What did you hear, smell, touch, see or even taste during the experience? If you personally didn’t experience what you are writing about, do you know someone who did? Ask them to share their emotions with you. Put words to those feelings. The taste language doesn’t necessarily have to be food related either. Your lips could be dry. You’re tongue can taste like you just liked a stamp. Relate the taste to something that the readers can understand because they have experienced it as well. We’ve all licked a stamp sometime in our life and remember the icky dull bad breath feeling it leaves on our tongue. My face is curling up just thinking about that taste.

Another way to find the emotion is to relate the article, topic, to music. Does it remind you of a fox trot, waltz, rock and roll, jazz, R&B, what? It could even remind you of a particular song. Can you access the song, or remember the lyrics? Musically, lyrics are great places to find emotional words and language.

Step 2: Connecting

Close your eyes, sit quietly with the article. Sense yourself reading the article in your mind. No, not the identical words but the idea, the vision, the thoughts. If that’s a challenge, read the article out loud, very softly, as if reading it to an angel. Even notice where you take breaths. These are places where new paragraphs begin, commas or periods needs to occur. If you run out of breath, maybe the sentence needs dividing, eliminating, or even combining.

You can even tape record your reading. Listen with your eyes closed. This is also a great way to hear the flat places in the article. Identify the emotion from what you hear. Record all the emotional words you hear or feel in the margins. Every word is right, so don’t miss any. Place all judgment in a shoe box for now.

Step 3: Adding In The Emotion

Review your words. Brainstorm with a thesaurus, synonym finder, or dictionary. Online resources you can use: http://thesaurus.reference.com, or
http://www.acronymfinder.com, http://m-w.com/netdict.htm.

Continue your list in the margins. Now its time, before the editing process to add in the emotion. If the first draft is very dry, this is a good time to realize that it’s not uncommon for writers to rewrite the article completely because the emotion conveyed was too far off at the beginning. If this is the case, consider the first draft a brain dump, a warm up session. And now you’re ready to roll. Your hot, the feelings are sizzling.

Step 4: Editing

Usually, editing is to help clarity and tighten. Caution though, it is easy to remove the emotionally charged elements that you painstakingly added. Sometimes, when using an outside editor, someone who doesn’t hold the same emotions as you, they remove the emotions. And sometimes too, there are too many emotions. There is a delicate balance. However, many editors walk this tightrope carefully and with honor.

Most writing needs energy and emotion that conveys the story, the information, so as not to put the reader to sleep. Or even worse, stop them from reading. And your passion is what needs to be conveyed from you to them. Watch the magic when you read someone else’s material that conveys emotions. See how they use the words.

When I’m in the flow, I feel the emotion pushing the pen as fast it can across the paper. I know, through experience, when this is occurring and I’m writing so fast, I have a tendency to leave words out. I used to stop at the end of every paragraph and reread and add them. Don’t, let the flow occur. Trust that whatever is needed will again be there for you to fill-in any missing blanks. Let the magic come through. Your readers desire it.

Special Note: An accompanying list of emotionally-charged words is available in the Abundance Center’s Forms Section.

About the Author:
Catherine Franz is a syndicated columnist, author, radio talk show host on marketing, International speaker, and master business coach. Visit her websites at http://www.abundancecenter.com and http://www.LetsTalkMarketingShow.com

Other Related Links:

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Write An Article-A-Day, The Easy Way!

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Novel Writing Made Easy.

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Cards, Notes and Manuscripts…Gone!

On the weekend I thought just the cards for my children’s series had disappeared, but I now know that everything is gone. The cards, the notes and the manuscripts…all gone!

I couldn’t possibly have thrown them out, could I? I honestly can’t see myself doing that, not even in the dimmest of moments, not even accidentally. We’re talking about two large piles of cards, four huge (colourful) notebooks, and two whole manuscripts. There’s no way I would pick all that up and think it was rubbish. I’m definitely not that stupid.

Yet I’ve searched and searched…everywhere (the garage, the house, the computer room about 100 times, my bedroom the same amount of times, the shed, my son’s bedroom (but why it would end up in there is beyond me, but I searched anyway), the dog’s kennel (well, he has been known to steal library books, so…), every book shelf, every corner of the house, every cupboard, under the beds, behind anything that moves and doesn’t move…and none of it can be found. Part of me feels like I must be insane, but I know that’s not really true.

It’s all gone. But I do have electronic copies of the manuscripts so I can breathe a sigh of relief there.

Last night, I was quite upset about all this, but this morning – after a restless night – I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably for the best. Without all those notes and existing cards to distract me, I will have to work through the plan for the rewrite from the beginning and maybe that is what I really need to do anyway. I might be more creative this way and not work with blinkers on.

Public Goal: Today is Monday 10 September 2007 and I’m going to give myself until bedtime on Monday 24 September 2007 to produce a story arc for Book 1 of the series.

Using Index Cards

No Plot No ProblemLast night, I finished reading No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty. (I admit there was a long break between starting the book and finishing it, because I was extremely busy.)

There’s a section at the end of the book that gives tips on rewriting your NaNo manuscript if you think it’s got potential. There are six steps to the rewrite, and in summary, they are:

  • Read your manuscript through from first word to last and make a note of each scene on the manuscript itself in any colour pen except red (red is strictly for editing). At the beginning of each scene write down who is in the scene and a brief summary of what happens in the scene.
  • Transfer these notes onto index cards (or a spreadsheet) exactly as you wrote them. Now lay the cards out in the order they appear in the manuscript, using a vertical divider (Chris recommended a pencil for this) to group the scenes into chapters.
  • Scan the cards, removing any that don’t move the story forward. Check the remaining for characters that don’t seem to do anything or are doubles of other characters. If a character doesn’t have a reason to be in the story, get rid of them. However, if the character is needed but their story arc isn’t properly represented create new cards and place them where they should go. Ensure all characters are well developed on the cards before moving on to the next step.
  • Now shuffle the cards and place them down in alternate ways to ensure you have the best storyline possible; not forgetting to ensure you have the best pace and tension too. You may find you have to slice and dice some more scenes/characters when you finally decide on the best layout, so delete and create more cards if necessary.
  • Now return to your manuscript and cut and past the document so that the scenes are in the order you decided was best with the cards. Don’t edit! Just put everything in the right order. If you have added scenes, type in a place marker by writing four or five lines of a quick description of the scene. Remove the scenes that you no longer need.
  • Rewrite (or edit) your story – slowly and line by line.

This sounds like a good plan for my chapters books. I’ve written two, but I feel they need improving and I thought I could use the index cards I’ve already prepared and see what happens when I follow the steps (starting at step 2, of course).

Today, after returning home from a lovely morning out (we went to see the latest Harry Potter movie and had lunch), I decided that I’d start. However, my index cards were nowhere to be found. I pulled my bedroom apart (that’s where I normally write), but nothing. I then went into the computer room and ended up having a spring clean in there too, but still nothing. I don’t know what happened to them, but they are missing and I have a strong feeling I will not be finding them anytime soon. You know that “safe place” everyone has, well that’s where they must be and we all know no one knows where that place is.

I guess I’ll be doing the steps from the beginning, instead of cheating and starting at step 2 now. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

I just wish I knew what happened to those cards.