Thursday, September 30, 2010

Time Management - How to Find Time to Write Your Book

photo by Toni Verdú Carbó

Guest post by Irene Watson

"I'd like to write, but I just don't have any time."

How often have we heard that, or even said it ourselves? The truth is that writing is extremely time-consuming. Beyond just getting words down on paper, we have to revise and polish them. The time and work involved can seem so overwhelming that we never get started writing a book.

But let's face some hard facts. First of all, most of us don't have a lot of time. Secondly, not having "enough" time is completely a myth. We all have enough time to write a book. It's not so much about time as it is about discipline, and discipline doesn't mean chaining yourself to the computer seven nights a week. It means seizing opportunities when they present themselves.

First of all, determine how much time you spend doing things that don't really matter in terms of the big picture? I'm not talking about things you have to do like dishes, or working at your job, or taking care of your children? I'm talking about things like watching TV. At the end of your life, do you want to say I've seen every episode of "Friends" or "CSI" three times, or that I wrote a book? Okay, granted, some TV shows are great, but how about when they are in rerun-do you watch them anyway? Or even if you want to watch your TV shows, do you really need to watch the commercials? Every hour of TV has about fifteen minutes of commercials. Use those fifteen minutes wisely and you can write a book in a year.

Writing does not require a disciplined schedule. It doesn't require the latest, finest computer on the planet. It doesn't require a fancy pen. It just requires a few minutes of thought here and there, and then later, tying those thoughts together.

Get a pen or pencil and some paper, or a laptop-whatever is comfortable for you. Go ahead and sit down in front of the TV, and when the commercial comes on, write.

If a big piece of paper or a blank computer screen is intimidating to you, use a smaller piece of paper. If it has to be a little 2 x 2" sticky note because that's as much space as you think you can fill, go ahead and use that.

The point is to break big things down into small things. Rather than chain yourself to a desk for three hours, give yourself three-minute writing spurts. Challenge yourself not to fill several pages, but just a small piece of paper. If you're using the computer, it's great if you can turn on the word count so you can watch it increase. Write 100 words. Then 500, or 1,000. Each evening, try to break the previous day's record. Make it into a game.

But you want to write a full book. I know, you're thinking, "I'll never get there at that pace."

Let's say a typical novel-200 to 300 pages-runs around 100,000 words. If you write 1,000 words a night, you'll be done in 100 days. If you only write 500 words a night, you'll be done in 200 days. Let's say you take off weekends. That's still 2,500 words a week, which is 40 weeks to 100,000 words-in less than a year, you'll have a rough draft for your novel. If you spend the next entire year revising it, you'll have a novel written in two years. Is two years really that long? Remember two years back? Look how fast that time went by. Think two years into the future-how exciting it will be to have written an entire book.

No book was ever written in a day-not one worth reading at least. Patience and determination will get the book done.

It doesn't matter if what you write is good or bad. If your goal is to write 500 words and those 500 words are badly written, at least you got them on paper. You can always fix them later. The main thing is to write them so they can be fixed. That's half or better of the struggle. Ernest Hemingway said he wrote one good page for every one hundred bad pages. Bad writing is no big deal. Only not writing is a big deal.

If you find you don't have time to watch TV, or to sit for fifteen minutes a day, use other parts of your day to write. Do you have to commute in the car? Then think about your book while you're driving. Become committed to using that time to write your book. You can buy a recording device to speak your book into and then you can later type it up. There's even software now that will type what you speak so you don't have to type it up yourself.

Do you have a lunch break at work? Go sit in your car and write during it. Do you have a job with little to do? Then use the time to write your book. Do you have a hectic job? Grab a sticky note and doodle an idea down to stick in your pocket and come back to later.

Do you have to walk the dog? Going for walks are great ways to trigger thoughts. Get a recording device to talk into while you're out walking. Or tell your dog your story-he's probably a good listener and won't give you any negative criticism.

Busy exercising at the gym? Think about your book while you're walking on the treadmill. Waiting at the doctor's office-carry a notepad to jot in while you wait.

Tired and need a nap? Then lay down and think about your book until you drift asleep-you'll be surprised how many times ideas will come to you before you fall asleep just because you let your mind rest for a minute-and wouldn't it be cool to dream about your book? If you have an idea and forget it later, don't worry about it-another, probably even better, idea will come.

Time exists all around us if we just take advantage of it. I firmly believe anyone who puts his or her mind to it can write a book. It just takes discipline-fifteen minutes a day is sufficient. Pick up that pen. The commercial is about to come on.

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Write Fantasy That Sells!

Guest post by L R Saul

I frequently hear people ask, "Why is Harry Potter so successful?" I even find book reviewers and publishers asking it. They scratch their heads, baffled. But the success behind Harry Potter, and other very memorable fantasy books, is in fact devilishly simple. It's just a matter of knowing two secrets. So what are they?

I'm going to reveal to you, the mystery behind the success of Harry Potter. Its success comes from its use of, well... mystery. It is the many mysteries and hooks running through the entire series that pulls readers in and keeps them there. But why mystery?

The human being has an insatiable need for answers. Not one human being, of any age, is exempt from that. Not one! Think about a baby wanting know what happens if it pushes that red button on that toy. Or adults needing to know the source of that strange noise in the night. Or teens nervously chatting about that strange man lurking around the school yard and what he could possibly be up to.

It means that, just by cleverly utilising mystery, you have the power to appeal to human beings from one end of our planet to the other. Ask some very intriguing questions, and a reader will go with you anywhere you take them until they have the answers. Powerful and unanswered questions -mysteries - are some of the greatest sellers of books of all time. Mysteries in fantasy are no exception.

I often tell potential readers of my fantasy novels to just give me the first two pages. That's it. Just the first two. My goal is to hook them sufficiently, and then to keep on raising questions that will take them to the end. The secret to that is simply... mystery.

Mystery, however, shouldn't stand alone. And that leads me to the second secret of a successful fantasy novel: its message.

Mystery needs to pair with a message to make a great fantasy book. Think about Harry Potter, with its message of good versus evil, and the power of friendship and sacrificial love. It was a message that escaped no one, and in its amazing way, it bonded an entire generation of people as we all sat at our café tables or on couches and discussed our mutual love for, or curiosity over, the Harry Potter books.

Mystery isn't the only thing that has the power to carry a reader to the end. Unresolved personal conflict and deeper themes are just as effective. We need a resolution to those deeper issues so badly, that they will also pull us all the way to the last page. A character burning with a lust for revenge will carry us on until we either see that revenge carried out, or watch the character transform as the character forgives. Readers find it very hard to leave such intense personal conflict hanging.

Fantasy has the power to change you - whether through film or books. In fact, it has the power to change a whole generation, as Harry Potter did. Books should change you, so why should fantasy be exempt from that? There is the argument that fantasy is just escapism, and it should be left that way. But tell me, who amongst you didn't escape into the world of Harry Potter only to find yourself emerging at the end different somehow? You escaped because of the message, not despite it.

So write a fantasy book that can change the world; thicken it with personal conflict; make it about issues that mean a great deal to you; then make sure it intrigues us and asks questions we can't possibly ignore; and I guarantee you the world will read it... and love it. LR Saul is the author of several fantasy novels for adults and young adults, including Bloodline: Alliance and Bloodline: Covenant. When she's not writing books, LR Saul is thinking about books, reading books, editing books, teaching about books, writing articles about books, or trying to ignore books. To learn more about her or her novels, go to

Monday, September 27, 2010

5 Writing Tips From Professional Nonfiction Writers

photo by svenwerk

Guest post by Linda Aragoni

If you would like to be a better, more productive nonfiction writer, take some tips from journalists. Facing daily deadlines, they must learn to work efficiently in order to write effectively. To become a better nonfiction writer yourself, use these five tips from the pros.

Good writers do seat work.

Positioning your seat on the seat of a chair is the first requirement for improving your writing. You will not get better without working at it. If you must write on the job, or even if you blog as a hobby, you must do your seat work daily over a period of months or years.

Good writers keep their eye on the goal.

Before they write their first word, the pros determine who will read their work, what the reader already knows about the topic, what the purpose of the writing is, and what the reader should think or be able to do after reading. Setting out with your goal firmly in mind saves time. Your goal prevents you from doing needless work.

Good writers sweat the big stuff.

Professional writers concern themselves with having something to say and saying it clearly. They deliberate over the best way to organize the material. They debate ways to make the reading painless. They worry over every element that has potential to confuse or mislead a reader. Only then, when all the big stuff is right, do professional nonfiction writers worry about minor points of grammar and punctuation.

Good writers repeat success.

For poor writers, each new piece of writing is a new challenge. For good ones, a new piece of writing is more or less like previous ones. Journalists have a repertoire of mental templates for the kinds of writing they most frequently have to do. Instead of having to develop an outline and procedures for each new assignment, they have only to see what the new assignment demands that is different from their template.

Good writers avoid grammar problems.

Poor writers think they must have a thorough knowledge of English grammar to produce good writing. Professionals do not worry about grammar if they can possibly avoid it. Rather than use correct grammar that will distract readers, they will rewrite a sentence to avoid the issue.

If you aspire to be a good nonfiction writer, practice these five principles. Self-discipline and consistent effort on the most important writing elements will pay off.

Linda Aragoni, webmaster of, has spent most of her life writing, editing, and teaching nonfiction writing. She believes nonfiction writers are most efficient when they use a writing process that mimics what good nonficion writers do. Copyright 2010, Linda G. Aragoni. You may reprint this article provided the whole text, the author's name, the links, and this copyright notice remain intact.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Blog Post Writing Process

Guest post by Katherine Ploeger

As I have been writing more and more blog posts, I have found a routine that works for me, and I thought others might benefit from that information.

Each weekday morning, I start by drafting my post(s) for the day. I usually have a topic, and often I have a basic outline of points to include. Sometimes, I have to think about the points to be made and their best sequence. However, sometimes I have to go through my ideas folder to find an idea that resonates with me at that moment. I am always adding ideas to that idea folder.

Sometimes these drafts swerve and take detours, which, at the time, is not apparent to me while I am drafting. Others stay on topic beautifully. With a few, I run out of words long before I know the post is finished and rely on my subconscious to provide the words when I revise the next day.

And sometimes I get stuck. With one post I tried to write recently on publishing routes (the topic of a 7 hour seminar of a few years ago), the post simply would not condense into 400 words or even a multiple-post series. I actually started over three times before giving up, creating a folder for my attempts, and filing it for later use.

When I finish the draft, I print it out. I always revise from a printed copy; revisions from the screen often miss errors relating to ideas and writing quality. I put the printed copy aside, to simmer overnight.

I am a firm believer in "simmering" time, that time I take from the writing to let my subconscious work on the piece. When I return, I can see problems that were invisible while drafting. Revision could be spoken as "re - vision," or seeing the writing with new eyes.

I then revise the draft(s) from the previous weekday, which have been simmering overnight or over the weekend. Considering that no first draft is ever perfect the first time (which is especially annoying to perfectionists), the second viewing the next day, when revision takes place, is an essential step in the process. I always change a few words or ideas during revision. Sometimes I realize I have detoured and correct the content. Other times, I simply put aside the draft for more inspiration later. Most of the time I revise the wording, taking out words unnecessary for meaning, and publish it.

When I am happy with the post, I publish it on my blog and send it to EzineArticles for distribution. That often can take an hour or two, depending on the quality of that draft.

I have read of people whipping out a blog post in 20 minutes and immediately publishing it, and then I have read the results and shaken my head. If they had taken more time and allowed the draft to sit for a while, then revised it, the quality of ideas and writing could have been better.

So that is my blog writing process. I wanted to write this article (as I have thinking about it for a while) to reassure writers that taking time to create your best writing is smart, not a handicap or a waste of time. Taking time to draft, simmer, AND revise is the writing process. Each step is important and should be viewed as such.

I hope this brief article has helped you when thinking about your own timing and your writing process.

Katherine Ploeger, MA, MFA, is a writer, editor, writing coach & consultant, and publisher. She writes practical, process-oriented publications for writers of all types. She publishes at Quilliful Publications ( ). Her latest book is Write That Nonfiction Book: The Whole Process. She also writes workbooks for writers. Two recently published are Common Writing Errors Workbook and Time Travel Workbook for Fiction Writers. She also offers lots of free and helpful information at her blog, Katie's Writing Notes at

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Do You Have a Good Negritude?

Today, I was introduced to a new word by the TrueTwit Validation Service.  It was one of the words I had to type to validate that I was a human.

Negritude (an ideological position that holds Black culture to be independent and valid on its own terms; an affirmation of the African cultural heritage)

It was coincidental for me.  I happen to be in the middle of publishing a book with the title The Blended Church: The Emergence of Multicultural Christianity.  The author, Dehner Maurer, states there is one place in the United States that racism is more prevalent than any other - the church.

Here is a little sneak peek from the foreword by Dr. Myles Munroe.

"Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed his dream 'that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood,' and that his 'four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.'

Almost 50 years have passed since Dr. King spoke those words in the midst of a struggle to build bridges between races, and an honest examination will reveal that the yearning he expressed is still not fulfilled in our culture, especially in the church.  Tremendous advances have been made in race relations, to the extent that America’s first Black president occupies the Oval Office.  Minorities have moved past the doors of schools and executive offices of corporations.  The ethnic complexion of suburban neighborhoods has changed, but the congregations at a typical Sunday church service remain basically the same.  In addition to identifying churches as Baptist, Methodist and otherwise, we still describe them as 'white' or 'black.'

 In a first century world characterized by bitter racial, cultural, national and social hatred, the Christian church was a model of reconciliation and harmony.   Speaking of Christ and the church, the apostle Paul wrote: “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility . . . His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility” (Eph. 2:14-16 NIV).

In this book Dehner Maurer presents a thorough and revealing analysis of the church’s failure to fulfill its divinely appointed purpose regarding racial harmony and prescribes practical and biblical principles to meet the problem.  He shows that true reconciliation goes beyond token integration and statements of equality to a spirit of unity and purpose.  Such a spirit begins in one-on-one relationships in which we view the other person as someone whom God loves dearly and for whom Christ died. Maurer enforces the principles he espouses with both biblical and contemporary illustrations, primarily from his own church situation.

People in pews and pulpits of all churches and races will profit from reading this book and implementing its teachings."
Your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

PR For Beginners

Guest post by Jim Schakenbach

Using PR correctly starts with constructing your message and its delivery so that your news releases communicate clearly and effectively. So often, companies send out press releases packed with self-congratulatory, cliche-ridden, unfocused information that seems designed to cause editors to either scratch their heads in confusion and throw the release out, or simply fall asleep under the influence of dull and leaden text.

To avoid this, use benefit-oriented headlines that quickly convey the advantages of your product or service. Provide the "who, what, where, when, and how" of your message in the opening paragraph. Craft short, punchy paragraphs that position your product in the marketplace, relative to the competition, to give the editor perspective and background. Concise, "bullet" points can provide a feature-by-feature rundown of what you have to offer without wasting the editor's time with lengthy text. Above all else, use plain language.

If your release is more corporate than product, be sure to attribute all statements to a company spokesperson and provide some good, quotable statements that an editor can extract and use. Then make sure that person is available to speak with an editor and to provide more information. Have contact information, including title, telephone number, and email address right at the top of the release. Be sure also to include your web site URL somewhere, perhaps as part of the address bar at the bottom of the page.

Need to include more information? Avoid attaching documents to your email; instead, include all text right in the body of the email rather than as a separate, attached file. With so many viruses lurking on the Internet, many people avoid or simply delete attachments if they are not sure where they came from. As a result, you may risk having a key part of your message eliminated before an editor even looks at it.

If you supply photos or other graphics, be sure to include a caption to make the editor's job easier and to increase the likelihood of your photos being used. Clearly identify any people in a photo and state the purpose and benefit of any products shown.

In short, if you treat both editors and readers with respect, you will achieve better results. Properly provide all necessary information for editors to make informed decisions about your release - your chances of getting published grow exponentially with a complete, professional-looking news release. Likewise, provide information that is interesting and useful to your audience, not self-congratulatory, self-serving fluff. If they see value in the information you are conveying in your news release, they will see value in your company and its products or services.

Jim Schakenbach, owner of BIGWORDS Content Development, is a freelance writer and marketing communications consultant working primarily with B2B and technology accounts. He specializes in creating clear, compelling marketing messages for complex products and technologies. Email him at, visit his website at

Monday, September 20, 2010

Twitter's Grammar Police

Guest post by Dr. Sandra Folk

Real Estate Company Tweet:"Fantastic 3 brdm condo available if you act qwik"

Grammar Police Response: "Fantastic lack of interest in anything requiring 'qwickness'."

Believe it or not, there really are "grammar police," people who spend their time pointing out the spelling and grammar mistakes others make on Twitter. They have Twitter names like Grammar Hero and TwEnglish.

Since Twitter only allows sentences that are 140 characters long it lends itself to shorthand and odd spellings, but the "grammar police" don't think that's an excuse for improper use of the English language. This is true even (or maybe especially) when it involves someone famous.

Take actor John Cusack, for example. Cusack's Twitter feed has been attacked by these self-appointed guardians of grammar for misspelled words, for instance his spelling of the word "hypocrite." (In one tweet he turned it into something sounding like a relative of a well-known African mammal - the "hippocrite.") As for Mr. Cusack, recently he became so annoyed by the constant jibes about his careless spelling that he started deliberately misspelling words, just to bait his critics.

From a distance it's pretty amusing. But if you're using Twitter for your business, or you're an employee tweeting for your company, being attacked in Twitter is no joke. It makes you look bad to others in your industry. Perhaps more importantly, poor use of grammar and spelling mistakes may convince potential customers to go elsewhere.

Of course whenever there is a new method of communication inevitably there are attempts to redefine how language and grammar are used. We've seen that with email, texting, and now Twitter. But just because Twitter is fast and fun, when you're using it for business purposes it doesn't pay to get sloppy. So here are a few things to avoid:

  1. Don't write in CAPS. As with email, it is the equivalent of shouting.
  2. Use recognizable industry shorthand, (such as bdrm. for "bedroom" in a real estate tweet), but don't invent words. They may strike you as amusing, but they may also confuse your reader. Remember, the function of grammar is to clarify communication.
  3. Don't misspell words. Spelling mistakes indicate a lack of attention to detail, and attention to detail is what we all want from those with whom we do business.
  4. When it comes to using the latest fun Twitter jargon be judicious. Signing off by saying "Tweetcha' later," might be funny to you, but there's a fine line between funny and cutesy, and being cutesy in business communication is probably not something you want to chance.
  5. Remember, Twitter is a kind of conversation. Don't write something in a tweet you wouldn't say in person, or communicate in an email.

It really all comes down to this - do you want to risk alienating people by playing fast and loose with spelling and grammar? I'm pretty sure the answer to that question is a resounding "no," not unless you want Twitter's grammar cops (excuse me, I mean police) coming after you.

Dr. Sandra Folk is a Toronto-based educational consultant and award-winning university lecturer. She set up The Language Lab specifically to help business executives and employees write and express themselves more effectively. Find out more at

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tips for Bloggers - Generating Blog Post Ideas

Guest post by Valerie M. Edmon

If you've been blogging for any length of time, you know that one of the most difficult things to do is consistently coming up with ideas to write about on your blog that continually interest your readers and generate more traffic and interest in what you have to offer. Here are a few tips on how to come up with an endless amount of topics to write about for your blog.

In order to ensure that you never run out of things to write about for your blog, come up with a strategic outline that gives you a nearly infinite amount of things to write about. Here's how to do it. First, think of the bigger picture. What is the main idea that defines your whole blog? What bigger market are you in? (Your blog might be in a smaller niche, but what general market is it in?)

Now think of your typical blog visitor. Imagine what questions they might have about your general blog topic. Write down ten of the best questions you can imagine. Now, in your head answer these questions mentally. Imagine reciting your answer to an absolute newbie to the information you're discussing. Now imagine what questions might arise if you were new to this knowledge.

Use this thought exercise to write down ten questions for each of the ten topics. That gives you one hundred ideas for future blog posts! Remember that if you could come up with the question, countless others have that exact same question and are just waiting for you to answer them!

Creating a money-making blog should be simple but many people find the process difficult and confusing. If you want to learn how to set up your very own blog for free, sign up for my Make Money Blogging Challenge today!

The Challenge provides step-by-step instructions and ongoing personal support and assistance and is 100% free for a limited time. Sign up and rise to the challenge today!

Click here:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Writing in the First Person Point of View

Guest post by Dana Rongione

Point of view (POV) is the perspective from which a story is being told. In essence, it is the element that shows us who is telling the story. While there are several different points of view, only a few are widely used. In this article, we will be focusing on the First Person point of view.

The first person POV uses the pronouns "I" or "we." In a sense, you (the author) become the character who is telling the story. This is becoming a very popular way to tell a story because it brings the reader directly into the mind of your character, and therefore, into the story itself.

If attempting to write in the first person POV, it is imperative that you know your character inside and out. You must act, speak, and think as your character would. Not only that, but you must notice and pay attention to things that your character would. For example, if my husband and I were to walk into a store, my attention would immediately be drawn to the trendy clothing or adorable knick-knacks. My husband, on the other hand, would go directly to the tools or outdoor equipment, hardly noticing the things he passed along the way. Why? Because we have different interests. Our attention is drawn to things we are interested in. So it must be with your character if you are using this point of view.

When using first person POV, since your character is telling the story, that character can only tell what he or she knows. In other words, if your character is in the kitchen, he can't tell you what is going on in the living room unless he can hear or see the action taking place.

For this reason, one of the hardest things to do in the first person POV is to describe your character. If your character can only describe what he sees, unless he is looking in a mirror, personal description is lost. In addition, it is difficult to describe the character's personality without sounding like they're bragging. Fortunately, there are a few ways around this obstacle, and they include:

* Use a mirror (note: this has been overdone)
* Compare the character to another character in the story
* Have another character describe your main character
*Don't describe them - It has recently become acceptable to not describe your POV character at all as long as there is adequate description of the other elements in the story.

The first-person POV is very popular, and so it would be in your best interest to master its usage. Remember, the main key is to know your character and to essentially become that character in the telling of the story.

Dana Rongione is a full-time Christian author, speaker, and writing coach living in Greenville, SC. Want to know more about POV? You can find information about all aspects of fiction writing in her LearnWriteNow, e-class. Join the class now, or get the e-book version for less than you would pay for dinner.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Commonly Misused Word Pairs

Guest post by Dr. Sandra Folk 

I suppose to make it completely clear what this article is about, I could have used "Commonly Misused Word Pears" as the subject heading. But I didn't want anyone to think I had a serious problem with spelling!

Besides, it's unlikely you mix up the word "pair," indicating two of something, with "pear," as in the fruit. On the other hand, it is quite likely that at some point you have found yourself puzzled by two words that are similar, but have distinct meanings.

If you've ever had to think twice about whether you've been sent to the principal's office or the principle's office you'll know just what I'm talking about. (Hopefully being sent there - the principal's office - was not a regular occurrence in your school days.)

The reason I'm writing about this grammatical issue today is because I thought that from time to time it might be helpful to post tips I've acquired from years of working with people to improve their writing. I'd like to start with commonly misused word pairs because they are so, well, common. They often ruin what is otherwise a well-written document. To help you avoid this problem in your own writing, here are a few examples of what I think of as "the usual suspects," when it comes to misused word pairs.

Affect/Effect: One of the simplest ways to understand the difference between these two words is that "effect" is usually used as a noun and it usually implies a result. For example: "When I left the pears sitting in the sun for hours, the effect was that they became very mushy."

"Affect" is more typically used as a verb, meaning to influence something. For example: "The efforts of the Pear Marketing Board to make me buy their fruit had no affect on my decision to eat only apples."

Here's a handy one-line example that may help you keep it straight: "The way you affect someone can have an effect on that person."

Of course there are exceptions - it wouldn't be the English language if there weren't - but the above examples demonstrate the most common uses of these two words.

Elicit/Illicit: This one is easier, because "elicit" is always a verb, meaning to draw out, or to create a response. "Illicit," on the other hand, is an adjective describing something illegal or improper. For example: "The lawyer tried to elicit a description of the man accused of illicit behaviour in the fruit market."

Principal/Principle: Despite generations of teachers telling students that the way to remember this is by thinking "the principal is my pal," for some reason most aren't convinced. "Principal" is both a noun and adjective, used to indicate something of greatest importance or quantity. "Principle" is only a noun, and indicates laws, rules, or most often, ideals.

For example: "They tried to convince him to steal the principal supply of pears, but large-scale theft was against his principles, so he only took one piece of fruit."

Adverse/Averse: This word pairing involves two words with somewhat similar meanings, as opposed to principal/principle, where the meaning of each word is distinct. "Adverse" implies difficult or unfavourable circumstances, while "averse" means having strong negative feelings. It is that quality of negativity that confuses some of us.

Here's an example of both words used correctly in a sentence: "I am not averse to buying apples, because adverse pear-growing conditions means the pears this year are of poor quality. At least, those not stolen by the fruit market thief."

So these are just a few examples of commonly misused word pairings. All pear jokes aside, using the incorrect word in business correspondence can detract from your credibility, or the credibility of your business.

It's the kind of problem that is easily dealt with though; in fact many of the Language Lab online courses have components that effectively address these and other common grammatical errors. It's just a matter of you deciding that it really is time to finally deal with the grammatical issues that have been confusing you since you were young enough to worry about being sent to the principal's office.

Dr. Sandra Folk is a Toronto-based educational consultant and award-winning university lecturer. She set up The Language Lab specifically to help business executives and employees write and express themselves more effectively. Find out more at

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Secret of Writing a Really Good Blog

Guest post by Wolfgang Bloomfield

The secret of a good blog lies in its content. It is the content and the key words that time and again attract potential customers. Good blog content literally means putting something different on every blog.

Really good blog content is not impulsive; it is content that has been thought out, and properly researched. You cannot treat the blog as an experiment and then expect it to work for you. The whole idea is to mean business, and to make your presence felt online, as well as to make money from it eventually, so therefore you have to ensure it performs the way you want it to.

The Importance of an attention grabbing title

If you want to make some money from your blog, you must get the attention of your potential audience, so you should not underestimate the power of an attention grabbing title. The title has to reach out and grab your target audience in order for you to make money.

The title of your blog needs to make an immediate impact on the reader, particularly if you are hoping to get free traffic from the search engines and social bookmarking sites; also you will have to do some keyword research to find out what search terms people are tapping into their computers.

It is also a good idea to ask family and friends for ideas on what people type in when they are searching for a particular product, and ask them for their honest opinion. A well written blog post can make all the difference in the world, as to whether you will be successful or not, especially if you are hoping to make a full time income out of your efforts.

A good post on your blog is about being original with your content, but mainly be yourself speak your mind, say what you think and don't just go along with what everybody else is saying. Develop your own style, and this will set you apart from others and then hopefully you will get a loyal following that will from time to time spend money with you. It is also important to include your photo on the blog. People will feel like they know you, this helps to build trust and people will spend money with people whom they can trust.

Build your business steadily

Don´t rush into building too many blogs at once. This is where many people make the mistake of trying to do too much.  Nothing gets completed, and you will end up with the impossible job of keeping up with it all. It is better to have one good blog with a really good content, and you will start to earn some money. However, remember Rome wasn't built in a day.  It does take time, and you have to be patient.

It is better to make one or two quality posts a week, than just to put out posts for the sake of getting more content on your blog. Remember quality always wins over quantity.  It is easier to write about things you know about.  It´s a good idea to blog about that, perhaps a hobby or a sport.  Choose something you can be passionate about, and it will show in your blog. What better way to make money can you think of?

Here´s to your success,

"Wolfie" Wolfgang Bloomfield

"Wolfie" Wolfgang Bloomfield is a full time Internet marketer offering free tips and ideas to other people wanting to do the same. Check out his freebies, earn from eBay, see how it´s done, and get 28 free eBay training videos on his site at earn-money-with-ebay.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Press Release Creates 4.4 Million Media Impressions in One Week

This week I sent out the following press release.  So far, responses expressing interest will generate more than 4.4 million media impressions.  Why do you think the response was so great?

Plan to Party Revolutionizes Holiday Entertaining

The founders of party planning blog,, are releasing their new book, Plan to Party, October 1st, from Yorkshire Publishing, everywhere books are sold. 

Finally, a book puts the power of practical, tried and true, advice and practices in the palm of the reader’s hand in the form of a Plan to Party.  This step-by-step approach to entertaining removes the mystique and fear by boiling down the fundamentals of entertaining into a straightforward, easy-to-execute plan, empowering the reader to host a party that will stand out from the pack this Holiday season.

The authors have been featured on: CBS,,,, Chicago Tribune,, and AM New York.

“We are thrilled to bring our revolutionary approach to entertaining to a broader audience.” - Elizabeth Mascali and Dawn Sandomeno

Chock full of detailed, useful DIY information, this 280-page full color tome is sure to be a staple in everyone’s home from the soon-to-be bride to the experienced host. Designed to make hosting parties less stressful, easier, and more enjoyable, this book delivers a feast for the reader’s eyes and table.

Some potential interview or article ideas the authors can provide are:

  1. Removing Common Barriers to Entertaining
  2. DIY Party Planning with Quality
  3. Defining Your Entertaining Style
  4. Party Related Time, Money, and Stress Management
  5. Creating High Impact Party Looks for Less
  6. Party Planning with Fresh Natural Foods

With all the information and inspiration at the reader’s fingertips, they’ll feel like they just got the inside scoop from their best girlfriend who hosts the best parties. Understanding how to build a strong foundation provides the reader freedom to entertain how they want and when they want.  They can follow one of the four included comprehensive Party Plans or draft their own.

The authors, Elizabeth Mascali and Dawn Sandomeno, are the founders of Party Bluprints Inc. and the wildly successful party planning blog, Their blog is a wealth of information for hosts new to the themed party scene, as well as those who have been hosting parties for years. The blog and book reflect years of research, knowledge, and feedback on parties that will not only wow your guests but avoid breaking even the most modest budget.

For those in the media who would like a pre-press look at this exciting new title, an electronic review copy is available now – with a physical copy to follow. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Should You Start Your Story at the Beginning?

Guest post by Dana Rongione

In the beginning of the story, you must establish your main character and the basic plot of the story. The beginning of your story should grasp your reader's attention. It has been said that because of the attention spans of people today, you have only 3-5 seconds to capture their attention. That's not much time.

For this reason, your first sentence must be a powerful one-a hook, as we writers call it. It must capture the reader's attention so that they will want to keep reading. A boring first sentence or first paragraph will leave the reader tossing the book on the table or placing it back on the bookshelf. Obviously, that is not what we want. No matter how good your story is, if you fail to hook your reader with your beginning, your story will probably go unread.

Here are a few examples of good beginnings that hook the reader and immediately draw him into the story:

Nothing ever starts where we think it does. So of course this doesn't begin with the vicious and cowardly murder of an FBI agent and good friend named Betsey Cavalierre. I only thought that it did. My mistake, and a really big and painful one. - Violets Are Blue, James Patterson

Notice in this example, the author tells you that the story doesn't start where you think it does or even where the main character thought it did. This leaves you wondering where the story actually begins, as well as intrigued by the knowledge that you'll be helping to solve a crime.

The New England woodcarver Jacob Adams was having a lean year- as lean and unprofitable, he thought, as if the Devil himself had a hand in it. If Jacob Adams had been born two hundred and thirty years later, he would simply have thought, Business is lousy. - Ghost Ship, Dietlof Reiche

In this example, you, as the reader, are intrigued by the last sentence. Why would Jacob have thought differently at present than he would have 230 years later? What led him to believe that the Devil himself had a hand in his lean and unprofitable year? In just one short paragraph, you are left with questions that beg to be answered.

Winter's chill hung in the air like thousands of polished silver shards, poised to fall soundlessly to the ground. A young woman stood in the midst of the chill, heedless of its potential to harm her, and motionless, as if simply breathing in and out was all she could manage. She remained there for quite some time, fighting visibly to keep herself upright. In time, she took a careful step forward, only to rest again, still breathing raggedly, still adding to the frost. - The Mage's Daughter, Lynn Kurland

Again, the author begins in the middle of the story, leaving you feeling like you must read on to figure out what's happening. Who is this young woman? Why is she so weak? What happened to her? Will she be alright?

Many new writers are under the impression that at the beginning of the story they have to spill out, in great detail, everything that they know about the main character and the plot of the story. Big mistake! This will cause your readers to feel as if you're simply throwing bits of information at them and expecting them to make sense of it. Character development and plot development can take place later in the story. It can be worked in as you go along. Don't give in to the temptation to deliver all your facts on the first few pages of your book or first few paragraphs of your story. If you do, you leave your reader with nothing to look forward to, and therefore, no reason to finish reading.

Dana Rongione is a full-time Christian author, speaker, and writing coach living in Greenville, SC. She offers a wide variety of writing services, including e-classes and personal coaching. For free writing prompts, tips, and quotes, visit

For daily encouragement, check out her blog, A Word Fitly Spoken.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Backstory - Fiction's Foundation

Guest post by Irene Watson

Don't forget the backstory. The backstory consists of those events that happened prior to the main time of the novel. Usually, those events are in the background-they may not be mentioned or even known by the characters, but the author mentions them to the reader, sometimes in just a sentence or two, sometimes in a hint or an image, sometimes as a prologue, sometimes as a flashback or in a character's memories.

Here are a few simple ways that the backstory makes a novel richer:

Backstories Build Character Motivation

A simple example of a backstory creating character depth and motivation is in Edith Wharton's "The Age of Innocence." The novel focuses upon Newland Archer who is engaged to May Welland and eventually will marry her, but Newland finds himself attracted to May's cousin, Countess Olenska, married but separated from her husband. Early in the novel, Wharton briefly mentions that Newland had previously been attracted to a married woman. Most readers might forget this point, but it reveals depths to Newland's character that foreshadow and explain his desire for what is forbidden-to be with Countess Olenska.

Backstories Allow for Plot Twists

Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" is about an orphan boy trying to survive in Victorian London. But Oliver had to become an orphan somehow-the backstory is that of his parents, and ultimately, it leads to secrets about his parentage being revealed. A recent film version of "Oliver Twist" even went so far as to begin with the story of how Oliver's parents met and separated, turning the backstory into a prologue.

Backstories Foreshadow Events to Come

In the "Harry Potter" novels, we are told that Voldemort killed Harry's parents, and Harry even has a scar on his forehead as a sign of the battle. The backstory of Harry's parents set up this seven novel series so that Harry ultimately must do battle with Voldemort and avenge his parents' deaths. That showdown is never lost focus of as a result of the backstory planting the seed.

Backstories Create an Expanding Universe of Possibilities

The backstory fulfills what I have long considered one of the most important observations upon writing fiction ever made. In "Aspects of the Novel," E.M. Forster states, "Expansion. That is the idea the novelist must cling to. Not completion. Not rounding off but opening out."

One of the best examples of this expansion exists in the backstory of L. Frank Baum's "The Wizard of Oz" series, and it is one that novelist Gregory Maguire, most notably, has capitalized on with his novel "Wicked" and its successors. Film viewers know Dorothy goes to visit the Wizard who is a humbug and came to Oz in a balloon, but readers of the books know that many things happened in Oz prior to the Wizard arriving. In Baum's second book "The Marvelous Land of Oz" the backstory comes forefront when a young boy is discovered to be the enchanted rightful princess of Oz. In subsequent novels, Baum left further hints of Oz's backstory-how it became a fairyland, how the wicked witches gained power. In "Wicked," Gregory Maguire reinterpreted this backstory to tell the story from the Wicked Witch of the West's perspective, allowing the witch to justify her actions and to show that the Wizard in many ways was the wicked one.

Many novels, which we can loosely term "postmodern" today for their desire to play with earlier literary texts, have equally capitalized on existing backstories in novels, or in trying to create backstories based on hints in the original texts. The classic novels by Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters, Charles Dickens, and many others have had numerous prequels and sequels and spin-offs written in recent years to capitalize on their backstories. For example, in "Wuthering Heights," Heathcliff is an orphan boy whom Mr. Earnshaw brings home to raise, but was Mr. Earnshaw honest about Heathcliff's background? Could Heathcliff really be Mr. Earnshaw's bastard child? If that were the case, the backstory becomes richer and the main text of "Wuthering Heights" inherits many new overtones.

Suggestions for Creating a Backstory

If you are trying to add interest to your novel, consider adding a backstory to it. Here are a few suggestions for backstory ideas that can enrich a storyline:

Secrets: Nothing makes a good backstory like family secrets revealed. What is the secret? Who knows it? Who finds it out? How is the secret discovered? How does knowing the secret change the main character's perspective, goals, or decision to act? Lost diaries, forgotten manuscripts, old family heirlooms, courthouse birth and marriage records, or a dying woman who wants to unburden her soul are all great ways to introduce secrets into the novel.

Someone from the Past: A former lover shows up unexpectedly, creating memories of the past. An old enemy returns to seek revenge. Suddenly, the main character finds that his past has caught up with him, or perhaps his children discover something new they never before suspected about their father.

Forgotten Memories: A psychiatric patient remembers her true identity, or she remembers being molested as a child, or finally sees the face of her rapist, or a psychiatrist finally pinpoints the event in a person's past that led to her split personality disorder.

A Tragic Event: Science fiction novels are great for backstories. In an apocalyptic setting, what happened to make the world the way it is now-a flood, global warming, a nuclear war, an attack by aliens? Or in more realistic novels, does someone's death in the past still hold sway over characters in the present?

Conspiracies: "The Da Vinci Code" is a great example. For two thousand years, Jesus' true bloodline has been kept secret. Or a hidden treasure has been guarded for hundreds of years. The truth behind humanity's origins is suddenly revealed when an alien spaceship is found.

The backstory can be incorporated into your novel in many ways. Hint at it in the beginning, and then gradually provide more hints so that all can be revealed at the end, or use it to provide character motivation for events to come. Create a mystery and momentum with your backstory that will leave readers totally enmeshed in your novel, anxious to discover secrets from the past, and eager to learn how it will all turn out.

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Success Secrets of the Highest Paid Authors

For today's post, I thought I would put up the audio file of the Publishing Segment I have started doing each week on the Dresser After Dark radio show.  Please comment if you would like me to post these each week.

Have a great holiday weekend!

You can download the mp3 here:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Secret to Getting Great Book Reviews on Amazon

Guest post by Dana Lynn Smith

When consumers shop for books on and other online bookstores, many of them read the book reviews before they make a purchase. Even if they came to the site to buy a particular book, they may read the reviews to verify that they are making a good selection.

Positive reviews are a great selling point for all types of books, but they are especially important for nonfiction books, where consumers often compare several books on the same topic. Amazon actually encourages this, by displaying other similar books on your book's sales page.

So, what's the secret to getting great book reviews on Amazon (besides writing a great book)? ASK people to post reviews and make it EASY for them by providing a link to your book page on  

Amazon is by far the largest online bookseller. Anyone who has an Amazon user name and password and has purchased any product on can review your book there, even if they purchased your book elsewhere or got a free review copy.

Here are several easy ways to invite people to post reviews for you:

·        When you send out review copies to colleagues and influencers seeking testimonial quotes, ask them if they will also post the testimonial or a brief review on Amazon.

·        Any time someone writes a positive review of your book, ask them to post it on Amazon. Before contacting the reviewer, check to see if they have already posted the review.

·        When you receive an email or other correspondence praising your book, reply with a request to post a book review on Amazon. If someone has taken the time to write to you about your book, they are obviously a fan and will probably be happy to post a book review for you. Here's a sample message:

"Thanks so much for your note. I love getting feedback from readers and I'm glad that you enjoyed the book.

I would really appreciate you taking a few minutes to post your comments or a brief review on my Amazon page at Look for the "customer reviews" section about halfway down the page and click on the "create your own review" button to the right. Or, use this link to go directly to the review form:

If you're a Barnes and Noble customer, click the "write a review" button at

You can create a link directly to the book review form by clicking on the "create your own review" button and then using a URL shortening service to create a short link to the form. To save time, save your review request in a Word document and copy and paste it as needed or set up an alternate signature in your email program containing this text.

Savvy Tip: You may also want to use this message to ask for permission to use a portion of the customer's comment as a testimonial quote on your own website. In your request, I suggest pulling out the portion you want to use and formatting it as a quote so the customer can see exactly what it will look like.

·        Another possibility is to seek out reviewers who have reviewed books on similar or related topics or in your genre on Amazon and ask them if they are interested in reviewing your book. You may be able to get the reviewer's contact information by clicking on their name and looking for their website or blog address on their Amazon profile. Anyone who has "Top 500 Reviewer" beneath their listing is an especially active reviewer.

·        You can ask family members and friends to post a review (or they may offer to do so), but be careful. Anyone who shares your last name (unless it's a really common name) will look like a relative. Also, you don't want the reviews to sound contrived. For example, posting something like "My friend Susan has written a great book and everyone should read it" is not a good idea. And of course you want these folks to post an honest opinion – you might ask them to write a couple of sentences stating what they liked best about the book.

Should you write a review of your own book? Maybe, but think very carefully about what to say. I don't recommend writing a review talking about how great your book is or making a sales pitch. Doing so may turn people off or cause them to question the validity of your other reviews.

However, you might want to consider writing a "review" as a way to provide some information that's not included in the book description listed on For example, you could mention your inspiration for writing the book or mention resources available on your website, such as a free sample chapter or book club discussion guide. I suggest keeping it low key and avoiding blatant sales pitches.

Positive book reviews on Amazon and other online bookstores can boost your sales – take the initiative to ask for reviews and you'll be rewarded.

Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach and author of the Savvy Book Marketer Guides. For more book marketing tips, follow BookMarketer on Twitter and get Dana's free Top Book Marketing Tips ebook when you visit her book marketing blog.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How To Prepare For NaNoWriMo

Guest post by Kit Marsters

It may be a little while still, but writers around the world will likely be very aware NaNoWriMo is getting closer by the day. NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month - takes place in November. It's often seen as the ultimate challenge for aspiring and professional writers alike. Starting on November 1, the aim is to write a 50,000 word novel by midnight, November 30.

During NaNoWriMo, it's not about quality but quantity. It's all about getting the story out there instead of getting stuck on technicalities. The novel can be edited and rewritten later, but first it has to be written! It's okay to make mistakes. It's perfectly fine to write words you're likely to take out at a later stage, so long as you're getting the idea for your novel onto paper or saved onto your computer.

Some people think that writing 50,000 words isn't that much. Past participants will know that it's a challenge. It's an endurance test. It takes perseverance and determination and a whole load of creativity to succeed.

So how do you prepare yourself for NaNoWriMo? How can you fit such a task in with a busy life, a family and other obligations? Well, each writer goes about it in their own way, but here's my advice:

• The novel doesn't have to be written in a week. It's natural to want to write as much as possible early on, but you may wear yourself out. Take your time.

• It can be helpful to calculate how many words a day you'd need to write to complete the project, and aim towards that. If you happen to write more on a certain day, it's great! If you happen to write a bit less, there's nothing to worry about. It tends to balance out in the end and, if needs be, you can recalculate to see where you're at.

• Most people have busy lives. This doesn't need to stop you from taking part, though. Try to set aside some "me-time" each day to do your writing. If you speak with your family, they're very likely to understand! And you can write anywhere - during your lunch hour, on the train, whenever you feel creative and part of your story enters your head. It's good to take a little notepad and pen with you so that you can scribble down your thoughts.

• In the time leading up to NaNoWriMo, you can work on your basic outline. If you already have ideas about the events and timeline of your story, write them down. They will be helpful later. Character names, personalities, background stories, significant scenes, the mood you want to set with your opening paragraph - all will come in handy for when you sit down to write your novel.

• Prepare your preferred workspace for your writing sessions. Many authors love a clean, tidy desk in a peaceful space. Try to set it up the way you like it the most. Strange as it may sound, it does help.

• Seek encouragement. There's an official NaNoWriMo website with loads of advice and lots of other writers who will be going through the same experience. You can make it a shared adventure to tackle this challenge.

• If you have friends who'll take part, it's fun to compare word counts. However, don't feel upset if they've written more than you have. NaNoWriMo is not a competition against others. It's a personal achievement. So, whilst encouragement can work wonders, it's important to work at your own pace.

• Above all - have fun!

Kit Marsters is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Writers. She will be taking part in NaNoWriMo for the second time in 2010.
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