Friday, June 1, 2018

Advice from a Teen Author!


- Katelynn Renteria

As a teen author, I would like to share some advice I have learned that has helped me keep the elusive calm in the constant chaos of publishing a book. I wrote my first novel at age 14, and was published at age 16. I am now a self-published author and often still think to myself, what have I learned throughout this process?

1. Fall off the bandwagon! Be yourself. Be bold, daring, and show your audience who you really are. From the pictures that you post on social media to the marketing and promotion of your book, make sure your audience sees what’s in your heart so they can read what’s on your mind.

2. Audience building is key. You could have written the best book on the shelf, but if you don’t build your audience, then you have missed your target. Use social media such as Facebook pages and Twitter to show your friends and people who follow you that you have a lot to say.

3. Make positive connections. Networking with other authors and meeting new people to add to your following is a must to have your social media thrive. By growing your presence and promote other authors as well as yourself, you are able to grow your audience and reach your target. Marketing and book promotion is easier when you connect with friends that already have a large audience halfway around the world.

4. Write your heart out. Critics exist because of the great works in this world. Do not be afraid to write what’s really on your mind instead of wondering if someone will like your story. It’s your story. Make it count.

5. Make sure you fall in love with your characters first. They are the reason people will buy your book. Talk about your characters as if they were in the room. After all, you want your audience to go home with them.


Katelynn Renteria is a teen author from South Texas. She is a 2017 Recipient of the Literary Classics Silver Book Award in the middle school division for her YA fiction novel, The Other Side of the Law. Katelynn advocates literacy in the Rio Grande Valley by visiting South Texas communities and promoting the importance of reading and writing to children and teens. The sequel to her award-winning novel is near completion.  Links: www.amazon.com/author/katelynnrenteria

Monday, December 11, 2017

Incorporating Literary Elements into Nonfiction


According to Barbara Lounsberry in The Art of Fact: Contemporary Artists of Nonfiction, all good creative nonfiction shares these four essential characteristics:  (1) documentable subject matter chosen from the real world as opposed to events imagined in the writer’s mind; (2) exhaustive research which permits authors to “establish the credibility of their narratives through verifiable references in their texts;” (3) vibrant, well-developed scenes that are the building blocks of the work; and (4) a pleasing literary style. Certainly, these were characteristics I had to keep in mind as I developed the three narrative biographies in Unbroken Spirits: Three Extraordinary Southern Colorado Women.
A couple years of perusing dozens of primary and secondary sources and extensive use of endnotes in the final product helped me meet the first two criteria. However, the last two proved far more challenging. I wanted each of the three biographies to feel like a short story unified by a suspenseful plot. Yet each also had to be historically accurate.
I began by listing in chronological order all the significant events in the main character’s life and using the list to develop a storyline. By this method, I could decide which events on the real person’s timeline to build into scenes within the story; which to place inside endnotes; and which to eliminate altogether. Then came the hard work—converting a simple event on a storyboard into an exciting, sensory-laden scene that would catch the reader’s interest. The three examples included in the rest of this essay illustrate straightforward techniques for developing a factually accurate but dramatic scene for creative nonfiction.
Example One—Hook the reader. Immediately grab the reader’s attention while liberally employing figurative language and juxtaposing short statements next to longer sentences in order to add structural variety. These aspects of good writing must be obvious within the first page of the work.
Here’s how I transformed a single event on Chipeta’s storyline into the opening sentences of her biography. Basic Fact: Chipeta, wife of the famous Uncompahgre Ute, Chief Ouray, was actually a Kiowa Apache orphaned at an early age. The Opening Sentences of the Narrative Biography: Sinister, bloody, and unnerving—that’s what the Ute hunters thought of the place they had just stumbled upon. They were staring at a village of teepees nestled into a grove of cottonwood where nothing seemed to be stirring. No dogs barked. No horses neighed. No humans called out to each other. These few lines provide a suspenseful beginning to the first scene while simultaneously leading into the first event on Chipeta’s timeline.
Example Two—Enhance character development through use of dialogue. Because I could not interview my characters, I had to turn to history books, legal proceedings, courthouse records, old newspapers, and other archives to discover useful quotations. In Marion Sloan Russell’s case, her own autobiography was not the best place to find material on her family’s twenty-year legal struggle against the Maxwell Land Grant Company. Luckily, other sources dedicated far more space to detailing this conflict, and I could employ quotations found in these other sources to develop dialogue for the rising action in my own story of Ms. Russell.
“Shoot him,” cried someone standing inside the picket fence who had probably overheard at least some of the conversation.
“They’re here to seize our property!” exclaimed another homesteader. “We can’t allow them to do it!”
“Kill ‘um,” screamed a third voice. “Kill ‘um all!”
By then Deputy Hunn had reached the hotel lobby and slammed the front door shut. Some of the settlers could see that his cronies had already barricaded bay windows with mattresses and were presently pointing Winchester rifles through broken glass panes…
“Keep your head down!” yelled Frenchy, who dived for cover behind a veranda column. Richard pressed his back up against a wall, his eyes on the front door.
“Surround the building!” screamed O.P. McMains, as he ran toward the crowd.
Ms. Russell’s husband played a key role in the gunfight at Stonewall, Colorado, and this shootout also happened to be a culminating event adding fuel to Ms. Russell’s legal proceedings. Therefore, I felt comfortable in using documentable details and quotations I’d gathered when researching this event as I built toward the climax of my own version of Ms. Russell’s story. Why make something up when historical events provide realistic conclusions at least as dramatic as any contrived in an author’s imagination?
Example Three—Show rather than tell. Authors of creative nonfiction must utilize sensory detail to show rather than tell important character traits. Within Pearl Jolly’s biography, I developed sympathy for the strike organizer Louis Tikas by showing that he was brave and willing to stand up to tyrants. The following scene also employs foreshadowing because the word “someday” will eventually resurface many pages later in the climax of the story.
The handsome Greek remained cool-headed but defiant, evidencing the fact that he too was a veteran of foreign wars. “Someday,” he whispered, glaring into the face of his bullying opponent. The rest of the sentence was left unsaid, but Linderfelt had heard it before, heard it from strikers walking the streets of Trinidad, heard it from the striker’s wives ridiculing him behind his back, heard it from the Greeks, including Louis Tikas, who had made a show of pointing imaginary guns at him with their index and middle fingers.
When he heard Louis Tikas’ implied threat, Linderfelt’s reddening face puffed up like a big toad's.” Hold him, boys,” he barked as he motioned to two of his subordinates. They pulled Louis outside the train depot, pinned him against the wall, and watched as Linderfelt drew his pistol and prepared to beat Louis over the head with it.
Critics tell us to render a true story more entertaining by creating a literary style that is enjoyable, enlightening, and freshly original. Thus, we are challenged to use strong imagery while remaining grounded in fact. In What is Creative Nonfiction? Lee Gutkind compares creative nonfiction to jazz because “it’s a rich mix of flavors, ideas, and techniques, some of which are newly invented and others as old as writing itself.” We are not allowed “to make stuff up,” but we are compelled to use literary techniques to connect our readers to our subject matter in a meaningful, poignant way.

Kay Beth Faris Avery is a southern Colorado writer specializing in Colorado history, southwestern historical fiction, and creative biographies. Avery’s second book, Tales from the Trappers’ Trail, was a finalist in the 2010 New Mexico Book Awards. Her short story, Homesteaders, from the book entitled Warriors, Widows, and Orphans, earned third place in Contest 13 of the Tom Howard International Short Story Contest. Her collection of narrative biographies, Unbroken Spirits: Three Extraordinary Southern Colorado Women, garnered a Silver Award in the High School Creative Nonfiction category of the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards. Before turning to writing as a full-time profession, Avery served as a teacher for more than thirty years in such diverse settings as a small rural high school in northwestern Kansas, a middle school on the island of Guam, and a technical education center in Kissimmee, Florida. 




Thursday, November 9, 2017

Writing For Children -Finding Your Child Voice

By Diane Mae Robinson

When writing children's literature, finding your own child voice is the only way to create realistic characters, believable dialogue, and succinct narrative that will grab your reader’s attention and keep them involved in your story.

My writing students often ask me: So how does a writer find their child voice?
My answer to students is this: Before you can find your child voice, you must think like a child. To think like a child, you must play like a child, even if it is only in your mind.
Seems like a relatively simple thing to do, right?  But as adults, we often let go of (or lose completely) our childlike attitudes and behaviors; tuck them away in a memory box.
So, open the box. Remember. Put on a costume and dance around the room, go to a park and cruise down the slide, visit a classroom, read children’s literature, or hang out with some kids and just observe. Soon enough, your own childhood memories will come flooding back about what it was like to be that age--what was important, what wasn’t important, how you acted and how you talked, what the world sounded like, felt like, and tasted like.  

Once your own inner child is awakened, you will be able to immerse yourself into your child character’s head with more freedom, and your writing will be filled with pizzazz.
Another exercise I have my students do to get into child-mode thinking is to look at things, people, situations, and emotions; write down all the different ways to express it with originality. Then, break the sentences down again and again until the emotions and situations are expressed simply, with the innocence of a child’s heart.

Here are some examples of my child voice that I’ve used in my own stories:

Excited:  He felt as if a herd of jumping bugs were doing cartwheels in his stomach.

Sad: My heart fell sideways and stayed lying down all day.

Descriptive dialogue: "I’m sure grandma can fly. See that flapping skin under her arms? Those are her after-dark wings."

Descriptive narrative: The wind pricked and jabbed him, becoming so mean with all its yelling and howling that Tom decided the wind wasn’t worth playing with any longer.

So, if find yourself dancing and twirling around the kitchen, doing cartwheels across the yard, or finger painting like a four-year-old, and somebody comes along to tell you that you are acting immature, take it as a compliment and start writing.

Diane Mae Robinson is the international multi-award-winning author of the children’s fantasy/adventure series, The Pen Pieyu Adventures.  The author is also an artist, art teacher, editor of children books, and a writing instructor.  Diane lives in central Alberta, Canada.
Author’s website: www.dragonsbook.com

Amazon author’s page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007DKO8SK

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Past Mistakes of a New Author Trying to Get Noticed



When I started to write my first ever book, I admit I didn’t have a clue. Yes, I knew I had a good story in my head, and I had written much of it down on paper and had painted a lot of the illustrations.  Next was to let friends and family read it. Big mistake, of course, they all say it’s great, loved it, or it’s coming on well, as they don’t want to upset you! Proud as I was, I set off to look for an editor, I asked around a bit and soon came across someone that knew one nearby, so I printed my manuscript (manuscript was a new word for me at that time) and had it spiral bound with my draft cover and all images inside, I paid my near $1,000 and gave it to the editor I also sent a word file of the book, and I waited.

The manuscript was returned by e-mail from the Editor with something else new to me called Track Changes, it seemed to have ripped apart much of my book, and put it in the side column and removed almost all of the commas. Puzzled we arranged a meeting and were told, “These days readers don’t like commas, as it slows the reading, and readers these days are more intelligent, so I have removed most of them for you.” My poor manuscript was in now tatters. Rewrite one began.

That was a hard lesson learned with editors, they are worth their weight in gold, but you have to make sure you get the right one. The one I had used was trained in editing technical manuals! But I didn’t totally lose everything, it had been a valuable lesson, and I then knew how to use Track Changes and now couldn’t work without it.  I soon found a suitable company to edit and format my book professionally and was quite disappointed when it came back after the first round of editing with another half of my book shoved over to the side column.  So rewrite two took place. Following more edits, and months of work rewriting I now knew how writing books worked properly and had something that really was worth reading.  

Then I self-published. I remember thinking at the time, now all I have to do was put it on Amazon, pay for someone to design and build a website, and within a year they would be selling like hot-cakes. Duh! Wrong.  I didn’t know that there are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone, and if you are self-published you are on the bottom of the pile, as your ISBN book number can identify this to publishers. 

As I soon found out after sending out dozens of books to major publishers, there was never a single reply. I wondered, “Is my book that bad!” This simply seemed a waste of books and postage. I did manage to get to talk to one major company and they told me they get thousands of unsolicited submissions a week, and hundreds of books delivered a day.  So they simply dispose of them. That’s when it dawned on me that it was going to be a long hard road of reviews, competitions, free giveaways, bigger better websites, blogs, tweets, book clubs, paying for advertising, press releases, and more.

I suppose it works like a filter, only allowing the cream to float to the top. But none of this social media or computer stuff was really me. I’m the artistic one who writes and draws from all that rubbish floating around in his head.  But luckily I had a wife who was so much more of an academic than me, and by this time I had almost finished my second book, and my stupid head was already imagining the third.

We are not gamblers as we have both worked hard all our lives and have earned all we have. But now was the time to be brave, so we were. My wife left her job and started in earnest promoting my books; she built websites and learned how to make video trailers, blogs, Tweets etc. We entered competitions and sent for reviews and generally networked (another first for me). As a team, we gained strength and recognition in the literary world.  Mind you, it doesn’t come cheap, but if you want your books out there you have to be brave.

Seven years of hard work later and it has worked for us. We have some great reviews, have won International Book Awards and been interviewed by radio and newspapers. We are currently in negotiations with a recognized publisher, and a fourth book is on the way.  Yes, it’s a very long hard road, but keep going and don’t give up on yourself. When you win that first award, as we did with Literary Classics Book Awards, it really gives you that boost of energy to forge ahead. Sometimes all you need is for your book to be in the right place at the right time, and it all becomes worthwhile.

International award-winning author, Stephan von Clinkerhoffen, is a Peter Pan character. That’s why his sci-fi fantasy series “The Hidden city of Chelldrah-ham” suits younger readers and the “young at heart”.  Clinkerhoffen’s writing, conceived from his love of mechanics, nature, and art is tempered by humanity and fun.  An Engineering background allows him to develop new ideas, learning from success and failure. He enjoys tinkering with classic cars and motorbikes, and even built his own kit car.  Through his art, Clinkerhoffen embraces the challenge of painting intricately detailed fantasy lands which he depicts in his novels.  Clinkerhoffen spent several years volunteering with the New Zealand Red Cross after Christchurch’s earthquakes. Back in England, after 14 years living in New Zealand, he feels lucky to call the Cotswold countryside his home again.

See links below to find out more about Stephan von Clinkerhoffen and “The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham” series.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

i.e. vs. e.g.


i.e. 
Abbreviation of the 
Latin phrase ‘id est,’ 
which means ‘that is.’

Used when further explanation 
is forthcoming.

Example: The award ceremony will 
be held at the Raddison, i.e., the downtown location.

e.g. 
Abbreviation of the 
Latin phrase ‘exempli gratia,’ 
which means ‘for example.’

Used when offering examples, 
but not a full list.
Example: Daily use of vitamins can be beneficial for joints, e.g., Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc


Author.Pub publishing and marketing tips for authors

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Writing Tips and Other Advice, by Award Winning Children's Author, Sarah Hill



-Sarah Hill 

If you have a passion for writing, whether you are young or old, then I would recommend that you write about what you know and you write about what you like. This is because your knowledge, interest, and love of this subject matter will show in your writing. Immerse yourself within the topic you have chosen to write about. Spend time in that environment and understand the audience you are writing for. I am fortunate to be invited into schools for author visits and to judge children's writing competitions. Not only do I thoroughly enjoy these 'extra-curricular' activities that I'm asked to do, but I'm able to engage with the audience that I write my Whimsy Wood children's series for, and this is vital. 

The next thing I would say is that you must sit down and write. I know this sounds simple in theory, but there can be so many distractions and other things you can find to do rather than actually writing. Facing a blank page in your notebook or on your laptop can be very off-putting, daunting, and even a little scary! So much so that during the creative writing workshops I run for children, the first thing that I'll ask them to do is to pick up their pen or pencil and scribble all over the blank piece of paper on their desk. Once they've 'beaten the blank piece of paper' so to speak, and got their pen or pencil in contact with the paper, we then turn the paper over and start our creative writing workshop properly!

Don't hold back, or let yourself get hung-up on grammar or sentence structure initially. What's important when you first start writing is to get the story-line that is whirling itself around in your head down on paper. Once you've got that down, then go back and correct your grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. Be prepared to rewrite your work numerous times until you are completely and utterly satisfied with what you have written.

OK, so you now have your brilliantly written manuscript in front of you.  First things first, you must believe 110%  in what you have written and created. If you don't believe whole-heartedly in your story, novel or series, no-one else will. Always remember that the world of literature, especially children's literature, is incredibly competitive. You will come across rejection, but do not be put off by this and do not give up. If you receive a rejection letter, pick yourself up, rework your manuscript and resubmit it to another publishing house or literary agent. Please accept and understand that this is the 'nature of the beast'. Take on any constructive criticism, if you're fortunate enough to receive this, following submitting your manuscript and realise that every successfully published author has gone through a similar journey.

Finally, ensure you create yourself a support network of fellow writers on your road to, and after, publication. Join local writing groups and get yourself a writing coach. I subscribed to Suzanne's 'The Morning Nudge' a few years ago and receiving these free, daily emails really helped maintain my focus. If you are writing for children, then I would highly recommend you join the Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). You do not have to be a published author to join this wonderfully supportive international group. Writing can, at times, be a little lonely and insular, so having these groups along with regular interaction with like-minded people really does help further your writing career.

All that is left for me to say on the subject of writing tips, is that I have a wonderfully inspirational quote hanging up in my bedroom, which I read every morning and every night. This quote is by the marvelous Audrey Hepburn and says.... ' Nothing is impossible. The word itself says "I'm possible". '



Sarah Hill is an award winning children's author and creator of The Whimsy Wood Series

Visit the home of The Whimsy Wood Series:-
www.whimsywood.co.uk

For the latest 'Whimsy Wood' children's book, direct from the publisher, Abela Publishing, please click on this link :-

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Why You Can't Afford to Get Lazy with Your Writing!


-Pamela Woods-Jackson

As writers, we all have a basic grasp of grammar and punctuation, but in this technological age, we've gotten lazy when composing short texts, social media posts or emails. No caps, no commas, and auto-correct are the order of the day. Remember that your social media presence represents YOU to your readers, many of whom have never met you. Therefore it's important to be diligent about putting your best foot forward. In other words, EDIT EDIT EDIT and then PROOFREAD! It's one thing to fire off a quick text to a friend, but it's quite another matter to allow that lackadaisical attitude to creep into your professional writing. There is no excuse for misspelling a word, or confusing homonyms like you're and your, it's and its, or their there and they're. These kinds of easily corrected mistakes distract from the quality of your manuscript and often result in rejection from a publisher or literary agent. You don't want your fantastic story to be turned down simply because the editor couldn't slog her way through the grammatical errors. 

If editing isn't your thing, you can always hire someone to do it for you. If that isn't in the budget, see if you can work a trade with another author or even an English teacher. As a high school English teacher, I was always willing to help out fellow writers, and you probably know someone with a degree in English who would be just as generous. However you go about it, please don't send your work out to perspective publishers or agents until it is in the best possible shape. Even a few minor mistakes can get your manuscript rejected, so get ahead of the competition by making your mechanics as great as your story!

My contemporary romance CERTAINLY SENSIBLE, released December 2, 2015 by The Wild Rose Press, is a Gold Medal winner in the 2016 Literary Classics Award Contest. I am also the author of CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE PSYCHIC (The Wild Rose Press, 2010), which was a 2011 Epic Ebook Contest finalist. A follow up novel has just been accepted for publication by The Wild Rose Press. My YA novel GENIUS SUMMER was released in November, 2014, by Vinspire Publishing. It was a finalist in the 2013 San Francisco Writers Contest, received high marks in the 2013 Pacific Northwest Writers Contest, and was awarded the Literary Classics Seal of Approval in 2015. 

 My books can be found on Barnes & Noble and Amazon:
 https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=pamela+woods-jackson&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Apamela+woods-jackson

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/pamela+woods+jackson

Contact me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pamela-Woods-Jackson-1523690337865060/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel