Category Archives: Writing

Health & Fitness Author: The REAL Secret to Building a Successful Personal Trainer Career

Now available through AMAZON and KOBO!

The objective of this ebook is not to recommend any specific health, diet, or fitness regimens for personal trainers to follow. The primary audience for this book is self-employed personal trainers who are creating your own customized programs for various individuals, and my assumption is that you’ve been doing this for a while now. You’ve already built up a complete collection of personal trainer materials that you can draw from.

My intention is to show you how to expand the business you’ve already created—to, in essence, “clone yourself” so you can reach even more clients around the world while earning passive income on the side. Potentially significant passive income. As someone with 25 years’ experience in book publishing, sales, and marketing, I can show you how to self-publish professional grade personal trainer guides that will allow you to supplement your income in an efficient way. I know you’re already busy enough as it is, and there are only so many hours in the day, so efficiency is crucial. I get it, and that’s why I think this type of self-publishing program is perfect for you.

WHY EBOOKS AND AUDIOBOOKS SUIT PERSONAL TRAINERS

We all have a preferred learning style and strength whether it be audio, visual, or kinesthetic. Some prefer a more social gym setting where others prefer a more solitary workout environment. Obviously, ebooks and audiobooks have a great appeal for audio and visual solitary learners, and this is why they’re such a great addition to personal trainer programs.

Your more visual learners may prefer to savour and digest the images and text in front of them, in between sets, in the quiet comfort of a personal gym. A personal trainer ebook not only allows them to do this, but it also allows them to go back and review what they’ve read, to give it further thought before and after starting a new program.

Audiobooks are also useful personal trainer tools, particularly for the busy adult learners who spend much of their time commuting on a daily basis—whether they’re driving to and from work, or taking their kids to and from extracurricular activities after school. These individuals are often left with little spare time for any kind of “traditional” training, so audiobooks are a welcome alternative. Personal trainers can inspire and encourage these individuals to improve their lives by producing motivational audiobooks to complement other health and fitness programs. This allows your clients to further absorb your words of advice during a break at work, a morning jog, on a plane, or even in the car.

WHY SIGNIFICANT INCOME IS POSSIBLE FOR PERSONAL TRAINERS

Over the years, I’ve learned that the traditional (trade) book publishing method doesn’t work well for everyone. I come across more and more professionals who want to publish a book for all kinds of different reasons—to promote a business, educate or inspire others, et cetera—and they want it done quickly (e.g., within four to six weeks), and with a minimal upfront investment. This book details the independent publishing method many authors around the world are now using to earn six-figure incomes; and I believe it is a great fit for personal trainers based on all the different clients (e.g., seniors, middle age adults, young adults, teenagers, males, females, et cetera) and subject matter (e.g., different muscle groups, different food groups, et cetera) that you can cover. The sky is the limit in your field, and self-publishing provides an opportunity for you to expand your business and genuinely help more clients without over-extending your workload.

NO INTEREST IN WRITING A BOOK YOURSELF? THAT’S OKAY. YOU DON’T HAVE TO

Although some authors both qualify and have the time to write their own books, others might choose to hire a professional ghostwriter to help them create that compelling narrative. Both are acceptable ways to produce a book. In this ebook, I’ll show you how to find an affordable professional ghostwriter to help you write your personal trainer guide.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Professional Self-Publishing for Online and Distance Educators: Reach More Students with Ebooks and Audiobooks

Now available through AMAZON and KOBO!

The objective of this ebook is not to recommend any specific approaches on how materials should be selected and organized for online and distance education programs. Nor is it my intention to advise you on how to design and teach your courses. The primary audience for this book is self-employed tutors who are creating your own lesson plans for students, and my assumption is that you’ve been doing this for a while now. You’ve already built up a complete collection of online and distance education materials.

This book will show you how to expand what you’ve already created—to, in essence, “clone yourself” so you can reach even more students around the world while earning passive income on the side. Potentially significant passive income. As someone with 25 years’ experience in book publishing, sales, and marketing, I can show you how to self-publish professional quality online and distance education guides that will allow you to supplement your income in an efficient way. I know private teachers are already busy enough as it is, so efficiency is important.

EBOOKS AND AUDIOBOOKS COMPLEMENT ONLINE AND DISTANCE EDUCATION

We all have a preferred learning style and strength whether it be audio, visual, or kinesthetic. Some prefer a more social classroom setting where others prefer a more solitary learning environment. Obviously, ebooks and audiobooks have a great appeal for audio and visual solitary learners, and this is why they’re such a great addition to any online and distance education program.

Your more visual learners will prefer to savour and digest the text in front of them, at their own pace, in the quiet comfort of a preferred learning area. An online and distance education ebook not only allows them to do this, but it also allows them to go back and review what they’ve read, to give it further thought later on.

Audiobooks are also useful online and distance education tools—particularly for the busy adult learners who spend much of their time commuting on a daily basis—whether they’re driving to and from work, or taking their kids to and from extracurricular activities after school. These individuals are often left with little spare time for any kind of “traditional” tutoring, so audiobooks are a welcome online and distance education alternative. It allows them to absorb their lessons during a break at work, a morning jog, on a plane, or even in the car.

WHY SIGNIFICANT INCOME IS POSSIBLE WITH ONLINE AND DISTANCE EDUCATION CAREERS

Over the years, I’ve learned that the traditional (trade) book publishing method doesn’t work well for everyone. I come across more and more professionals who want to publish a book for all kinds of different reasons—to promote a business, educate others, et cetera—and they want it done quickly (e.g., within four to six weeks), and with a minimal upfront investment. This book details the independent publishing method many authors around the world are now using to earn six-figure incomes, and I believe it is a great fit for those who work in the online and distance education field. It provides an opportunity for you to expand your business and genuinely help more students without over-extending your workload.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Expand Your ESL Tutoring Service to Reach More Students: How to Self-Publish Professional Quality Ebooks and Audiobooks

Now available through AMAZON and KOBO!

The intention of this book is not to recommend any specific ESL tutoring lesson plans, ideas, or best practices to anyone. My assumption is that, as a certified ESL/TESOL/TESL/TEFL instructor, you already know what you’re doing in this regard. In fact, you’ve most likely been teaching for a while now and have already built up a complete collection of lesson plans for your students.

This book is intended to show you how to expand what you’ve already created—to, in essence, “clone yourself” so you can reach even more students online while earning passive income on the side. I’m a certified TESOL instructor, but I’m an author and book publisher first and foremost. As someone with 25 years’ experience in this industry, I can show you how to self-publish professional quality teaching guides that will allow you to earn supplemental income in an efficient way. I know your ESL tutoring service already has you busy enough as it is!

ESL TUTORING METHODOLOGIES

Every person learns in a different way. Some students are more visual learners who prefer to savour and digest the text in front of them, at their own pace, in the quiet comfort of a favourite learning area. An ebook not only allows them to do this, but it also allows them to go back and review what they’ve read, to give it further thought later on.

But in the world of ESL tutoring, visual “teacher-centric” teaching (e.g., assigning reading exercises, following the direct teaching methodology of demonstrations, visuals, and public speaking) is only a fraction of the coursework, isn’t it? Many would say the most effective way to develop new language skills is through auditory“student-centric” teaching (e.g., assigning hearing and listening exercises, utilizing the communicative and task-based learning approaches that involve fun tasks and group/pair work). In this case, audiobooks are the perfect ESL tutoring tool.

Audiobooks are also useful for the busy adult ESL learners who spend much of their time commuting on a daily basis—whether they’re driving to work, or taking their kids to and from extracurricular activities after school. These individuals are often left with little spare time for any kind of “traditional” ESL tutoring, so audiobooks are a welcome alternative. It allows them to absorb their English lessons during a break at work, a morning jog, on a plane, or even in the car—to fit their ongoing education into their busy lives.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE VARIATIONS IN ESL TUTORING

Every certified ESL tutoring professional knows that English is far from being a simple, straightforward language—all the more reason for you to hire a professional editor from the particular “Western-based” English region you’re trying to emulate in your ebook. There are many different editorial style guides associated with ESL tutoring, depending on which country you wish to represent: United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, Australia, et cetera. We all have different ways of spelling and punctuating the English language, so we each use different editorial style guides when editing books.

In this ebook, I’ll be touching on the importance of consistency in editing, particularly when it comes to ESL tutoring. I know of no other self-publishing “how to” guide that offers this type of advice to its readers, so it makes this ebook all the more useful to you.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

How to Sell a Children’s Book Series: Without Any Prior Sales Experience!

Now available through AMAZON and KOBO!

Who did I write this ebook for? Children’s book authors—aspiring and already published. That’s a given.

But this is not for adults alone. My intention is to take things a step further by providing key information about selling children’s books to both adults and their children. Why? Because if you or your child is anything like me, then that aspiration to write and someday publish began at a very young age. In that case, this will likely be a lifelong passion; so, why not learn some of the business aspects of this industry early on? While some children are encouraged to learn basic economics by setting up lemonade stands on the sidewalks in front of their homes, perhaps others can learn the same skills by self-publishing ebooks online—by following their lifelong passions in the process.

This is how one’s writing career often begins, particularly when that individual starts writing as a child: poetry, short stories, chapter books. Eventually, these works of art may turn into graphic novels or full-length novels. Maybe he or she will stick with fiction or move to non-fiction. Maybe the intended audience will change from children to young adults to adults as the years go by. The good news is, the sky is the limit when it comes to one’s imagination and passion. Both Dr. Seuss and J.K. Rowling have certainly enjoyed years of massive success by sticking with children’s book audiences; so, if that’s where your heart is, stick with it. It’s unnecessary to change who you are or what you desire to write about regardless of others’ opinions on the matter. That’s the truth.

Whatever children’s book is being written, there is a market for it. One simply needs to understand how to reach that target market. There are some fundamentals to the business aspect of book publishing, sales, and marketing that can help every author improve his or her chances of commercial success no matter what type of book is being sold, and that’s what this ebook is about. It outlines, from start to finish, the process that many of today’s most successful independent authors are using to sell thousands of books online each year. If it can work for them, it may well work for you and/or your child.

Since I started seriously writing and enquiring about my publishing options at age 10 myself, I’ve marked the appropriate age range for this ebook as between the ages of 10 and 15 years old even though the topic matter being covered is fairly in-depth. That’s because we’re discussing all kinds of children’s books in here (e.g., novellas, chapter books, picture books, et cetera); and, of course, the intention is for parents to read this book along with your children so you can help them with additional research and understanding as needed.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that all adults who are interested in writing, publishing, and selling children’s books will also gain important insight from this ebook. This book is not only for children and their parents. It’s for everyone who is interested in learning how to sell a children’s book series online.

Why do I refer to “a children’s book series” rather than simply “a children’s book” you’re wondering? There is a very good reason for this. Read on to learn why…

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2017 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Time-management, Productivity, and Efficiency for Busy Professionals

Jennifer D. Foster, freelance writer, editor, and owner of Planet Word

I think almost all of us are aiming for balance in our professional and personal lives.

I’m not a certified expert on time-management, motivation, or productivity. And I don’t have all the answers. But I’m a fairly successful freelance editor and writer, who’s happy to share the strategies and best practices I use in order to keep my clients happy, juggle multiple editorial jobs, and keep sane in the process.

I’ll give you a brief synopsis of how I got to where I am professionally and what I do, to give you some overall context, then I’ll talk about specifics.

I’m a freelance writer, editor, and mentor, with 20 years’ experience, 14 of those as a freelancer. As the sole proprietor of my business, Planet Word, I wear many hats and tackle many projects. I work on everything from adult and children’s fiction and non-fiction, consumer and trade magazines, web content, newsletters, and ads to style guides, curatorial material, press releases, annual reports, and book reviews. My clients and projects are vast and varied—just how I like it!

My first degree is an honours double major in sociology and mass communications from York University in Toronto. For my second degree, I went to journalism school at Ryerson University, also in Toronto.

After graduating from Ryerson, I got a two-month internship at Chatelaine magazine, while Rona Maynard was editor-in-chief. I wrote a few articles, did some fact-checking, and sat in on editorial meetings, but I wasn’t hired, as there were no staff jobs available. It was a fantastic view into the editorial world, and I wanted more!

I then worked for about three years as assistant editor at Homemakers magazine, under the leadership of Sally Armstrong. She was an inspirational boss and gave me my own section to edit after less than a year there, and after two years there, she sent me on a feature-writing assignment to the Philippines.

After Homemakers, I headed to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) as writer and editor in the Marketing and Communications department. That was a dream job, where I got to utilize both my editing and my writing skills. On particularly intense or trying days, I’d leave my desk to wander in the galleries, remembering why I was working there in the first place! After 2.5 years, I went on maternity leave and never looked back. When my son, who’s now 14, was six months old, I felt I was going brain dead as a stay-at-home mom and decided to launch Planet Word. I had no idea what I was doing as a new business owner, but I told all of my friends, family, and business contacts that I was available for freelance writing and editing.

Fast-forward to now, where sometimes I’m juggling up to half a dozen client projects at a time, with overlapping deadlines. This is very stressful and extremely demanding, but I find the following strategies help me get through even the most intense work periods.

Know Yourself and Your Work Style

My main tip is to know yourself and your work style and embrace them both wholeheartedly.
I know that I like lots of natural light, myriad lists, an uncluttered work space, lots of herbal teas and salty snacks, great variety in my projects and that I thrive under work pressure. Be your own best friend and work with yourself and your quirks—not against them. Don’t compare yourself to others and how they work: one magic formula does not fit all, and I believe everyone’s a work in progress, so be kind to yourself.

Woody Allen said 80 per cent of success is showing up. I couldn’t agree more, so that’s why I make an effort every work day, which is often seven days a week, to wake early, eat a decent breakfast, get dressed (yes, no pyjamas or sweats for me!), and be at my computer for 9 am. I treat my freelancing for what it is—a successful business and a professional undertaking. Call me crazy, but I feel very unmotivated and unprofessional sitting at my desk in pyjamas. Getting dressed and being at my desk for 9 am gets me into the right frame of mind to work.

Carpe Diem

I’m high energy, detail-oriented, and work well under lots of pressure. I think that’s how I came out of the womb! But I’m always open to trying new strategies, and I know that I have room for ongoing improvement. My theory is carpe diem. Treat each job as a privilege. And take each day as a gift and run with it. Which brings me to another tip: don’t procrastinate! I know—we all do it. But try and jump into a project right away. As a freelancer, I never know what’s coming down the pipe and when, so I need to tackle each project as soon as possible.

Speaking of trying something new, I wanted to share a time-management method that I discovered last year, while I was writing a feature on beating writer’s block for Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. It’s called the Pomodoro Technique. In a nutshell, this is how it works:

Step one: Pick your task.

Step two: Set a timer (traditionally, it’s for 25 minutes).

Step three: Work on that sole task until your timer rings.

Step four: Put a checkmark on a piece of paper after the timer rings.

Step five: If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (typically, it’s for three to five minutes) and then go back to step two.

Step six: After you have a total of four pomodoros, take a longer break (typically, it’s for 15 to 30 minutes). Reset your checkmark count back to zero and then return to the first step.

The main premise is to work in 25-minute blocks of time (called “pomodoro sessions”), followed by breaks. Each pomodoro session requires your full attention on a single task and then you take a break. The supposed results are improved productivity, burnout elimination, work-life balance and distraction-management.

Maybe some of you may have already tried it, and maybe it works for you. I tried it a few times, but I realized I’m more of a head-down, just-get-the-job-done kind of gal, so the timer going off was, ironically, a major distraction for me, and I found this method more irritating than anything, so I ditched it!

Make Lists

I’ll confess that I’m a list junkie. I make lists for almost everything, whether it’s business or personal, and I get a thrill crossing things off the list. My husband’s now doing it, after years of initially thinking I was crazy! He was always amazed at how much I’d get done in a day, and I told him it’s partly because I thrive on using lists. Now he’s a convert, and sometimes we jokingly fight over who will get to cross completed tasks off the chore list! Crossing jobs off a list gives me a great sense of purpose and accomplishment, and it motivates me to see lines through completed projects and tasks. I used lists with all my in-house jobs, and I’ve continued that method with freelancing.

It may shock you to know, however, that I work with a hard copy calendar and pen-and-paper lists—call me a dinosaur, but I love to get and stay organized on paper. I spend so much of my day on a screen that it’s a welcome change to actually use my hand to write, though my handwriting is atrocious! I have a work calendar that gives me a month at a glance, as I’m one of those people who needs to see the big picture, as well as the details. I write down when projects are due, and that way I can see where the bottlenecks are/could be, and that helps me know right away if I can take on any more work. I also use lots of highlighters and different coloured pens, so projects and deadlines stand out.

I make a list for the upcoming work week, usually on Sunday night, so I know what is due when and to whom for the upcoming week. That’s a smaller version, if you will, of the bigger picture. If my workload is light for that week, then I put on my marketing hat, contacting clients I haven’t heard from in a while, reminding them I’m available for work, or contacting potential clients (and yes, I have a list of potential clients!). Before going to bed, I add to the list, cross off tasks completed or move them to a newly created list. I also have an organized plan for each work day and that keeps me on track and motivated. Maybe there are apps or programs to do this, but hard copies work for me.

I also find creating editorial checklists helpful, depending on the size of the project. If it’s only a few pages, then I don’t create one. But if it’s a major project, like copy editing a 300-page cookbook, I develop a checklist in addition to the style guide I’m using. They are often a simple Word doc or sometimes I write out my checklist. I usually use the checklist at the beginning and at the end of my project, to ensure I’ve been thorough.

Get Through Every Email

Another time-management and motivation strategy I use is making it a priority to get through all of my emails before the end of each day. It’s a quirk of mine, and I realize it sounds freakishly anal and maybe impossible, but, again, this a strategy that works for me. I find it soul-crushing to open up my email in the morning, only to find a long stream of neglected emails/clients. Sometimes that just means a quick and professional acknowledgment of the email, stating that I’ll respond in more detail the next day or very soon.

Regular Breaks, Exercise, and Self Rewards

Another tip: I make time each day for regular breaks and exercise. They are essential for my sanity and my productivity. I do weekly hatha yoga, and I have an ex-racer greyhound who needs multiple daily walks. Exercise helps me manage stress and allows me to brainstorm or work through an issue I may be having with something I’m writing or editing. Bestselling author Gretchen Rubin says that doing 10 jumping jacks will boost your mood and increase your energy. I haven’t tried that yet, but maybe I should! Even when I was an in-house editor at Homemakers and especially at the AGO, I took time for regular breaks. As I mentioned, on particularly stressful days, I’d wander in the galleries, enjoying my favourite Emily Carrs and Tom Thomsons. I have very fond memories of the Yoko Ono, William Wegman and Hermitage exhibitions because I was able to enjoy the art during a weekday morning, often avoiding all the ugly weekend and afternoon crowds. For me, breaks are a form of escapism and regeneration, a chance to lose the work chains and give my brain time to recharge and think freely, which really aids in efficiency and motivation.

I’m also a big believer in self-rewards. I will say to myself that after I get X number of pages edited or y number of pages written, I will treat myself to, for example, wandering in some of my favourite neighbourhood shops or cafes, watching a BBC show, or to some pleasure reading.

Also, I take advantage of any downtime or lulls in work. Freelancing is feast or famine, so I use downtime to re-energize, strategize, and sometimes make more lists! I visit arts and antique markets, visit with friends or family, or think of potential new clients or story ideas. I also meet with fellow editors and writers to commiserate, often sharing work tips and strategies.

Just Say “No!”

Another tactic I use is just saying “No!” No to a client, no to a volunteer opportunity, and even no to myself for doing any more work that day. My theory is, it’s better to pass on a project than to take it on and do a less-than-spectacular job and ruin your precious reputation. Clients appreciate the honesty, which keeps your integrity as an editor intact. Almost every client I’ve ever said no to has come back another time with another job or another part of the job I originally declined. I recently had to turn down a copy editing project for a main client because of prior work commitments, but I was approached by that client again several weeks later to proofread the same project. Fortunately, I was able to say yes then.

I also don’t have a problem with making some nights a “get-your-own-meal” or “cereal night” at our house. My husband likes to cook, but he gets home from work around 7 pm. He is very understanding and so is our teenaged son. They’re used to this occurrence and know that sometimes a decent weekday meal isn’t going to happen, because “Mom’s on deadline again!”

Switch to Something New

Another way for me to meet deadlines and stay motivated is to work on multiple projects in one day or just switch to a different project altogether. As I mentioned, I wrote a feature last year for Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market on beating writer’s block, and many of the writers, editors, publishers, and writing instructors I interviewed do this. If my mind is wandering or if I need a break, I put aside that project and start on another. For example, if I just can’t look at that annual report pdf one more time, I’ll try writing a page for my YA novel, start working on my next book review for Canadian Children’s Book News, or research or brainstorm potential authors for the next season of Rowers Readers Series, for which I’m the administrative director. Sometimes that’s all I need to feel motivated to finish or return to the first project.

Positive Energy, Kind People

My final strategy is, surround yourself with positive, kind people. I express regular gratitude to those people in my life, as I know success is never a solo venture. It may sound cliché, but having family and friends who are supportive and respectful of you and your work will do wonders for your self-esteem and your peace of mind, which in turn has a favourable effect on your productivity, motivation and efficiency.

*****

Jennifer D. Foster is a Toronto, Canada-based freelance writer, editor, and mentor. She’s been in the writing and editing business for two decades, and her company is Planet Word. Jennifer’s clients are from the book and custom publishing, magazine, and marketing and communications fields and include The Globe and Mail, Art Gallery of Ontario, D. F. Plett Historical Research Foundation, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Canadian Children’s Book News, Dundurn Press, Ontario Dental Association, and Firefly Books. When she’s not busy spilling ink for her first novel, walking her greyhound, Aquaman, or reading, Jennifer enjoys travelling, antiquing, gardening, camping and yoga. She’s a long-time mentor to novice editors via Editors Canada and novice writers via the Professional Writers Association of Canada. Jennifer is chair of Editors Toronto and administrative director of the Rowers Reading Series. Find her online at lifeonplanetword.wordpress.com.

Introduction to Writing

Alberta Sequeira

Welcome to your world of writing. It all begins with a thought for a great story. The next step is to start writing your first sentence.  You don’t need to spend every spare moment at the computer. A half hour a day will bring your story together. Pushing aside your desire to write will never fill your dream of having that special book published.

Publishing your work can happen if you persevere and keep your confidence. Famous writers had to start where you are now. In the beginning, don’t worry about making every sentence flow together or panic because they make no sense. There will be numerous times going back to recheck your grammar, punctuation, and spelling. You may find it necessary to reword sentences. Those corrections should be in the last stages.

A computer is a gift and a best friend to a writer. Its function keys allow you to cut, paste, copy, delete or add a page from the internet to your manuscript. Remember, most mistakes can be fixed.

One important fact that I suggest is to SAVE your material with each paragraph or page that you finish. If you take a break, if there’s a storm, SAVE your work on a CD before shutting everything down. You’d be surprised how many hours of work can be lost. If it’s gone, you will learn what frustration is all about when you try to remember what you finished writing; you know, those perfect thoughts! 

When done for the day, SAVE your work on a CD. Make it a habit that you write your fresh, new, daily entries at the start of each day in your manuscript in the computer and SAVE the day’s work on the CD. It is easy to get mixed up if you start one day writing on the CD and saving the work the computer and then the next day starting on the computer and saving on the CD because you will over-riding pages of entries with your finished work. I made this horrible mistake with my first book for months forgetting which location I started my writing last, where it was saved, and I had deleted important information. Remember, work on the computer, Save on the CD at the end of the dayMake this a routine practice. 

Keep a pencil and a pad of paper in the living room, kitchen, and bedroom. Some of the best material seems to come during the wee hours of the night or morning. Have one special location to store your notes. Type them daily into your document. It saves paperwork from piling up or your notes getting lost. 

© Alberta Sequeira

www.albertasequeira.org

Email: alberta.sequeira@gmail.com

Bio:

Alberta Sequeira is from North Dartmouth, Massachusetts and is a four-time award winning Author, speaker, and an Awareness Coach on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

Her memoirs are:  A Spiritual Renewal: A Journey to Medugorje, Someone Stop This Merry-Go-RoundAn Alcoholic Family in Crisis, and its sequel Please, God, Not Two; This Killer Called Alcoholism, and her Narrative Non-Fiction book What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholics and Addicts; In Their Own.

Ms. Sequeira is an educational instructor for three workshops: Bring Your Manuscript to PublicationHow to Self-Publish Your Own Book with Create Space and Writing Memoirs.  All three classes were made into handbooks.  

She is a co-founder to Authors Without Borders (www.awb6.com) and a director, producer and co-host to the NBTV-95 Cable Show out of New Bedford, MA.  

She is in the process of working on her first fictional story, The Rusty Years.

Character Development

Award-Winning Author Hank Quense

Nothing tells the reader the author is an amateur quicker than reading about a make-believe, cardboard character, one that isn’t a ‘real’ person.

In this article we’ll cover the mental or inner workings of characters. These are the attributes that turn a character into a ‘real’ person. There are a number of areas involved and it will require creativity and hard work to complete the character development. These areas include the character’s personality, his dreams, his aspirations and any mirages that affect him. The character’s inner philosophy is also an important element.

Let’s briefly address each area.

• Personality: Here is a definition from the American Heritage Dictionary: The pattern of feelings, thoughts, and activities that distinguishes one person from another. If you scan the web, you’ll find a bewildering array of web sites about personality including some heavy-duty stuff from doctors. Basically, it seems to break down into two areas: personality types and personality traits.

According to one theory, there are sixteen types of personality. There are four types in each of four categories: analysts, diplomats, sentinels and explorers. Your character has to be one of sixteen. For more information see http://www.16personalities.com/personality-types.

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Within these categories, there are many personality traits. You need to define your character by giving him or her a personality trait or two. Is your character affable, charming, pompous, unfriendly? There are many personality traits that can be used. Once you select one or two, do a web search on that trait to ensure you can write convincingly about that type of personality. There is more information about personality traits here: http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-personality-traits.html

• Dreams (aspirations): What does your character want out of life? What does he want to do when he grows up? What does she want to achieve? This attribute can influence how the character acts and can provide a measure of conflict. What if she wants to become an engineer, but has to decide whether to stay in college or drop out to help her sick mother? This situation will provide inner conflict.

• Memories: These are influencers that characters have. Memories can also be used for foreshadowing and to build up internal conflict. How? Consider this example: as a five-year-old, the character almost drowned. Ever since, she has had a healthy fear of open water. At some point in the story, she sees a man drowning in the middle of a lake. What does your character do? Does her fear of water cause her to ignore the man and walk away? Does she search for a boat to use in the rescue? Does she suppress her fear and dive into the lake?
This inner conflict can provide a memorable scene in the story. Remember though, a heroine has to do heroic stuff. It would be acceptable for a villainess to let the guy drown, but a heroine will have to try to save him, or she won’t be believable.

Another example will concern a man who was punished as a child by being locked in a dark closet. Now he fears dark basements, caves, alleys and any unlit place. You can see how this memory and foreshadowing can lead to exciting scenes and gripping internal conflict.

• Mirages: These are fantasies the character tricks herself into believing. Want an example? Most politicians thinking they have the slightest chance of getting elected President. Another example: your character pursues a goal that he can’t possible achieve because it is a mirage.

• Descriptor (or voice): This item isn’t the same as the way the character speaks, it’s a brief description or summary of the character and the way he thinks and acts. This isn’t easy to develop but I believe it’s essential to have one for the major and main characters. Once you have the descriptor, it will help you write accurately about the character and his thoughts, his actions, his reactions.

Examples may be the best way to explain the descriptor. A banker can be the voice of greed and will endlessly talk about money and financial concerns. A psychopath is the voice of rage, always ready for an argument or fight. A warrior could be described as the voice of chaos. An accountant can be the voice of precision.

• Philosophy: Everyone has a personal philosophy. You have one whether you realize it or not, whether you want one or not. I don’t know if a personal philosophy comes with your birth package or is a product of your environment and your upbringing. To me, how it happened isn’t as important as recognizing that it did happen. My personal philosophy is skepticism with a healthy dose of cynicism. Since all people have a personal philosophy, it follows that your main and major characters should also have a personal philosophy.

Once you assign a philosophy to a character, limitations instantly follow. For instance, if your character’s philosophy is individualism, you can’t have him acting hesitant or asking other characters for help and answers. An individualist character tends to do stuff by himself. He’s decisive, not wishy-washy. Similarly, if the character is an optimist, you can’t have her bad-mouthing everybody’s ideas and suggestions. That’s the way a pessimist will act.

As you can see from this discussion of inner attributes, building a memorable character requires a lot of creativity and work. However, the effort is worth it and your readers will appreciate it.

The material in this article is based on my book Creating Stories.

© Hank Quense 2017

Character Development

Award-Winning Author Hank Quense

Building a main character in a story requires a bit of creativity and a lot of work.  Let’s talk about two topics on character development that don’t get much attention: limitations and biographies.

1. Limitations

As you build the characters, you may notice that limitations crop up.  Perhaps, a character can’t do what you want him to do because he is too old.  An elderly person, for instance, can’t do many things a younger person can do. You are becoming limited in what you, the author, can do and what your characters can do or can not do.  These limitations or restrictions will also occur with plotting and motivation.  The more the story design develops, the less freedom you and your characters have.  As an example, if you build a character’s physical aspects so that he has a serious limp, you can’t have him outrunning the bad guy.  Similarly, if your character dropped out of high school, he can’t use the laws of thermodynamics to develop the solution to the plot problem.  This is one huge advantage to building a complete biography; it gives you a better understanding of what the character is capable of doing.  The biography will expose the limitations the character will have to deal with.

2. Biographies

A biography for the character serves a dual purpose.  Besides providing background information, it allows the author to understand the character and that understanding is vital when dealing with the character in stressful situations.

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For a short-story character, I write a few paragraphs of bio material.  For the main character in a novel, the bio may run to more than a page.  Other novel characters will get less of a bio.  The less important the character, the smaller the bio I create.

The strange thing to many new story writers is this: most of the biographical material won’t show up in the story so why bother developing it?  The answer is that the bio allows the writer to understand the character and what makes him or her tick.  The better the writer knows and understands the character, the better the writer will be able to predict how the character will respond to situations and stimuli.

For instance, suppose someone walks up to your character and punches him in the mouth, or a beautiful woman unexpectedly kisses him.  How does your character react to the punch?  Does he punch back?  Does he walk away?  How does the character react to the kiss?  Does he get red in the face?  Does he kiss her back?  Does he develop a stammer?  Your detailed biography will guide you in writing the character’s response.  If you don’t have the bio material, the character’s response is really a guess.  In addition, the writer will have difficulty keeping the character’s response consistent when other situations occur.  Your second guess may be different from your first guess.  Believe me, the readers will pick up on it.

There are a number of biographical elements the writer should address.

Family: Are his parents alive?  Does the character have any siblings?  What is everyone’s age?  Are any siblings married?  Where did the character grow up?  Did the character have any unusual childhood experiences?  What were they?  Do these experiences affect the character?  Is the character’s family stable?  Or is it chaotic?  How does this affect him? 

Education:  Schools, degrees, favorite subject?

Career: Jobs, military experience?

Adult experiences: Married?  Divorced?  Children?

It’s the author’s job to come up with events that affected the character’s life and outlook. After that, the author must incorporate this information into the story.

This article is based on material in my book Creating Stories.

© Hank Quense 2017

Discipline: Perseverance as a Skill in Writing

J.B.M. Patrick

Three years ago, and in the middle of December, I thought I’d failed in everything I’d set out to accomplish.

In 2014, I enlisted in the Armed Forces. I was already a Basic Emergency Medical Technician; I knew quite a bit on how to save lives, but I felt I didn’t know enough about how to protect them. I’d signed up to be of part of the Army’s Infantry and began a long, arduous journey that transformed my way of thinking and altered my perception of what it meant to lead a meaningful life. On that December, I participated in yet another test designed to rid our ranks of those incapable of meeting the physical standards.

I’ve always been a terrible runner. At that time, I was even worse. I remember sprinting through gusts of oppressively frigid winds in order to meet the finish line under the time limit. The standard was a measly two miles in under 15 minutes and fifty-four seconds. I’d taken this test once before and had failed it the first time at 16:36.

I passed the halfway mark, and, with only one mile left, I struggled as sweat ran into my eyes and seared my vision. I pressed my eyelids together, but the pain only increased. My whole body was aching, I could barely breathe, and I began to see the backs of more and more runners besting my pace. I was angry at myself. So angry, that I started to cry because I knew it was my fault for not pushing myself hard enough, for not having the necessary strength to carry out a victory. I cried; however, I did not stop. I kept running until the end, and when I hit the finish line, I heard a Drill Sergeant bellow the outcome:

15:30. I keeled over, fell into a coma, and my chain of command rushed me to the emergency room.

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Just kidding. I made it. And little did I know that this would be the easiest victory, as events would soon heat up and never relent in intensity for years after. It was hard when I beat my two-mile time at 13:57, it was hard when I beat the standard for my brigade’s four mile at 29:30, it was hard when I ruck marched twelve miles to graduate Air Assault School, and it was hard when I stood my ground against a much higher-ranking member on a controversial issue and won.

So, how does this relate to writing as a craft and as a profession?

Conquering Fear:

“I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”
– Stephen King

However a reader/writer may feel about Stephen King, he is absolutely right in how he interprets the psyches of writers everywhere who often encounter the same issues. The clearest and strongest manifestations of fear take the form of “writer’s block.” I’ve always disliked this term, because once a writer has moved past it, writer’s block never returns. Writer’s block stems from the fear of Mental Conjugation.

Mental Conjugation:

Art, literary or otherwise, exists in fluidity. It only possesses the form an artist gives it. When an artist is too afraid to mold their vision into something tangible, they (“they” is being used for inclusivity’s sake) often create excuses that take root in the artist’s subconscious. Every time they sit down to create their vision, they’re assaulted either with feelings of incompetence or a lack of faith in themselves. They fall short of grasping how to mentally conjugate an idea, and this is often due to them feeling like that very first sentence or paragraph has to be perfect. It’s not because that person is inherently a crappy writer, but their hesitation is preventing them from realizing their full potential. With that in mind, anyone should be angry at themselves for erecting such an unnecessary but understandable barrier to progress. In spite of that, we should remember:

Conjugation is a Mechanical Process:

Writing is work. It’s very laborious in nature. I’ve gone from operating on an assembly line for twelve-hour shifts at a nonstop pace to adapting to constantly changing standards as a soldier. I’ve always had anxiety, so, in a way, everything is scary to an extent. But still, we must choose action over stagnation—fear over complacency, because that is how we evolve as writers.

That first sentence will not be perfect. In fact, it’ll most likely be trash; it’s normal. Every first draft is ugly, from Dostoyevsky’s to Bret Easton Ellis’. It’s going to feel “off,” it’s going to feel “dull” or “weak.” Regardless of how the writer labels their own work, it doesn’t matter. Developing the content matters. Conjugating ideas into tangible pieces of art matters. It is a mechanical process because it happens according to a style that’s already developed and will continue developing as the process continues. In order to ensure that this process works, there is one invaluable skill a writer must have at their disposable:

Discipline:

Advice on story elements, such as plot progression, character development, pacing, and word choice, is mostly canonical. Most established writers have come to agree with each other on what works, even if those elements themselves can often be sinned against for great effect depending on the artist’s talents. A potential writer can spend hours and days attempting to gather as much information about these elements. They can go on online forums for support in their efforts, they can log onto a social media account and find hundreds of others asking for the same advice, and then they usually complain about how they don’t write enough on those same platforms. Writing is not always fun; not every moment is beautiful or hits the right note. It takes discipline to put aside everything in a writer’s life and work for the sake of content while striving for the best level of quality on their first go. To write well, one must write and write and write. To edit well, one must edit and edit and edit. In conjunction, those two skills unite under discipline and support a writer’s efforts to produce something meaningful.

Set A Goal:

Shooting for the objective of making readers cry or feel significant emotions is lofty and can take time. It’s an overarching goal encompassing several much smaller goals, which are all equally important. For example, Stephen King claims to write 2,000 words a day. I’ve been following that goal myself and have already written eighty pages worth of content after a little over a week. I wrote 2,000 words this morning and am over 1,000 by this point.

In short, a writer should make it their imperative to keep going and to continue far beyond simple discouragement. It matters not how they feel and only makes a difference when they keep writing. Of course, beta readers and editors always follow once this process is complete; however, most never even start the process. Every time a writer completes their word count, their discipline develops just a little more. Remember to sustain rather than give in to trepidation.

Remember to look forward, to mentally conjugate art into a tangible form rather than focus on what’s behind you. Besides, looking back is an entirely different mechanical process; it’s called editing.

© Josh B. M. Patrick

Author Bio: 

J. B. M. Patrick (born 1994) is a former EMT, an Army Veteran, and the author of Angelos Odyssey: Volume One. Visit his Amazon page here for the extended (and very colorful!) version of his author bio: https://www.amazon.com/J.-B.-M.-Patrick/e/B0755RD3LV/

An Independent Author’s Checklist: What You Need to Have Ready for Ghostwriters, Editors, and Graphic Designers

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As an independent author (a.k.a. “indie author”), you are the project manager of your own book’s production from start to finish, from conception straight through to publication. This may include hiring a freelance ghostwriter (if you choose not to write your book yourself), an experienced editor, and even a professional graphic designer for best results. It all depends on the type of book an indie author wishes to produce.

For example, there are different components involved with designing a paperback book than an ebook of any kind; and there are even more components to consider if that indie author wishes to publish and print a hardcover book. An Independent Author’s Checklist includes an important list of questions indie authors will want to answer for a graphic designer, ahead of time, to ensure the book is completed properly and professionally the first time around. This type of preparation can save time and money for both project stakeholders because it can prevent complete do-overs in cases where the designer was unclear about the indie author’s original vision.

Communication is so important throughout this process—not only with your graphic designer. An indie author will also want to have certain things prepared ahead of time, in certain ways, for both the ghostwriter (if applicable) and the editor. As such, it’s often helpful to have a checklist at your disposal that makes this entire process run as smoothly as possible—particularly for the indie authors who are new to the whole publishing business. That’s why I created An Independent Author’s Checklist and decided to publish it online for indie authors everywhere. I want you all to have as much helpful information as possible at your fingertips, so you all have a positive publishing experience coupled with the best possible chances of success. That is my wish for you.

An Independent Author’s Checklist includes helpful information for indie authors regarding effectively communicating your book’s vision to a ghostwriter. Although some indie authors are both qualified and have the time to write their own books, you might choose to hire someone else to help you create that compelling narrative. Both are acceptable ways to produce a book. That said, when hiring a ghostwriter to help pen your book, it is important for indie authors to remember that ghostwriting is an ongoing, collaborative process (much like the entire publishing process). To make things run smoother, you should be prepared ahead of time.

An Independent Author’s Checklist also includes important guidance for indie authors regarding how to submit one’s manuscript to an editor so that it contains all the information you want edited. For example, some indie authors will only have the main body of their book interiors professionally edited. In that case, often any front matter, back matter, and back cover copy that is added after the fact is riddled with all kinds of spelling errors and typos, diminishing the professional quality of the book. But for indie authors like you who follow the guidelines in this checklist, you’ll avoid these issues and end up with the best possible result.