Sunday, September 24, 2017

Questionable Items in Goodwill Halloween Section

Every year, when I go scanning the racks at Goodwill for possible Halloween costume ideas, I see in what Goodwill has labeled the costume rack and see things that could be used for costumes and stuff that seems to just get thrown in the rack because it looks bizarre and like it could somehow be transformed into a costume. These clothes get tossed in alongside used ninja costumes without the sword or French maid dresses missing the apron and pinstriped tuxedos that may be used gangster costumes or may be real tuxedos. This I can be hard to tell, as with the tuxedo in the pictures below.

One thing that turns up every year in these tracks are the graduation robes. I once used two of these to make  half-devil/half-angle costume.  A red one and a white one, of course.  I can see red, white, black or even purple robes used for a devil, angel, wizard and such. But what of the orange and green ones? What would costumes might these color be used for? Renaissance dresses maybe? What might you do?

Take a look at this striped dress. I guess you could pass it off as a prisoner costume since it is black and white striped. It's a bit long, but certainly more appropriate that those sexy prison costumes you see for sale at stores and online.

And just what is this multicolored shirt supposed to be used for? It seems to have just gotten put in the Halloween rack because it is so bright and colorful.  A clown costume maybe? But then clown costumes are usually striped or polka-dotted. This would look bit weird, I think. How about you?

And below is a used lab coat, a real one with an actual person's name and degree stitched into it. I have nothing against using such an item for a mad scientist, doctor or whatever costumes require a lab coat. It's amazing, though how many of these turn up in these racks.

There are certainly other weird and questionable items in what Goodwill calls the Halloween racks. This is just scratching the surface.  In years pasts, I've blogged about this, including here, here, and here.  Same thing happens every year.

And I think I should mention wedding dresses in the racks as well. These seems like something someone might use to be the Bride of Frankenstein or any gothic character, but I personally would have a hard time wearing these out.  If I personally wanted to be a bride character, I would use a white graduation gown, and make it look like a bridal dress. It's be a lot less bulky and easier to wear to more than one event, if that is what you have planned, and easier to repeat for each event than making a toilet-paper bride costume. The toilet-paper bride would also be problematic if rain is expected in your neighborhood on Halloween night. In my neighborhood, you never can tell what the weather in late October will be like. Right now it's still summer-like weather, even though the first day of fall was two days ago. Pretty typical whether in this area.

BTW, I still haven't decided on a costume. It's till only September after all. But I do have some things in mind and will let you know another time.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

What You’ll Learn From Doing a Book Tour


What You'll Learn From Doing A Book Tour - Writer's

Doing your first book tour is an incredibly exciting time for any writer, if not a little nerve-wracking too! While it can be a fantastic way to market your writing, gain new readers and sell your book, doing a book tour can also be very demanding!
Here are some of the things you’ll probably learn when doing a book tour, and if you haven’t done one already, learn from them now so you’ll be even better prepared when you do!
You are a salesperson

You might think of yourself as a writer first and foremost, but when you go on a book tour that changes. You are a salesperson, and you need to get your game face on. To be a good salesperson, you need to:
- Believe in your book. Now is not the time to be self-deprecating and coy, tell people why your book is good, and why they should buy a copy.
- Be a good spokesperson. Know how to sell yourself and your work, be personable, friendly and approachable - a big smile goes a long way.
- Know how to close a deal. Being chatty is great, but at some point, you need to try and get a person to buy your book. If you can tell they aren’t going to, try to gently move them along.

Never miss an opportunity to sell. Take your books with you wherever you go, talk to people outside of your book tour locations, keep in mind that this is a business trip and the more books you sell, the more successful you’ll be.

You need to remember to bring certain things with you to every location:
You may end up sitting in the same spot for several hours, so it’s important to be prepared. The excitement of a book tour can make you forget even the most important items so before you leave each day make sure you have:
  • Copies of your book
  • Your business card
  • A pen
  • Some water
  • A list to collect email addresses

What you wear is important
Make an effort when you go on your book tour. You don’t need to wear a business suit, but if you dress smartly and look presentable, it shows that you care, that this is important to you, and people are more likely to take you seriously too.

Planning is necessary
Plan where you are going to stay, what you are going to bring, where you are going to eat, and how you intend to get to and from every location. There is nothing worse than rushing, turning up late, or finishing a session exhausted but still having to find a place to crash for the night, so be as organised as you possibly can be.

You’ll need to keep hydrated and eat right
Staying healthy on a book tour is so important. It’s easy to forget to eat, to not drink enough or get enough sleep but if you don’t at least make an effort to eat right and get some shut-eye, you’ll end up feeling (and looking) completely wiped out by the end of the tour.

You need to market your tour like nothing on earth
Do anything and everything you can to market your book tour. Research the locations you are going to and come up with ingenious ways to market your book. There may be some days where you get a disappointing turnout, but if you know you have done your best to get the word out, that’s all you can do.

Downtime is necessary
If you are travelling to new locations, it’s a good idea to plan your time so you can explore new places. You’ll probably have some time to kill in-between going to different places so use it wisely and have fun!

Saying thank you goes a long way
Remember to thank everyone who was involved in making your book tour a success. Not only the people who bought your book but the managers of the bookstores and other locations you went to and anyone else you can think of too. Keeping people onside will mean they will be more willing to have you back another time and organising your next book tour will be so much easier.

Planning a book tour is an exhilarating time. However, it’s important to be as prepared as possible. What lessons have you learnt from going on a book tour? Share them with us here!

Another area I'm not ready to get to since I'm still stuck in the finding an editor part. But I often tend to think too far ahead, and sometime ago, I began thinking of places near me that would be ideal venues for a book signing. Not just for me, but for anyone in my town. The local coffee shop would be ideal, as would the bar I frequent for karaoke. The bar wonder who write her memoir naturally had a book signing at the bar, and I'm sure she'd let me do the same. And the nearest Barnes and Noble to me is in Gilroy, California, right next to where I live. I've already seen each of these as possible sites for a book signing. And so many of my old classmates live in the Bay Area, so I'd definitely like to do a signing in San Francisco or somewhere near the city by the bay. 

I'd love to be on a book tour one day. I will get to visit some cities I've never been to before. I know it's too early to think about this, but I know that will be part of any such tour. And I'd definitely like to have some breaks to explore sights and sounds in cities I've never been to. Everyone added to take a break from everything. This would be one way to have fun in addition to signing your book.

Selling will be the biggest challenge for me when this time comes. I'm normally a quiet person, and this will be something to help me in that area. I will speak as best as I can.

I definitely look forward to having doing a book tour one day.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Prepare Yourself Mentally for Writing a Book


Show information about the snippet editorYou can click on each element in the preview to jump to the Snippet Editor. SEO title preview: Prepare Yourself Mentally For Writing A Book - Writer's

Deciding to write a book is an enormous challenge, and in fact, sadly, many people who set out to write a novel never actually get close to finishing.
One of the things you can do to make sure you do complete your book is to prepare yourself mentally for the road ahead. You need to feel passionate and committed as well as being aware of the challenges you may face and realistic about what it really means to write a novel.
So what can you do to get yourself in the right frame of mind for writing? Try these tips:

Decide to commit
Before you start writing your novel truly decide to commit to it. No matter how long it takes or how difficult it gets tell yourself that you will keep going. Focusing on this and making a promise to yourself to do so will help you set out in the right frame of mind. Tell friends and family about your decision too - the more people you tell, the less likely you are to go back on your word.

Be clear about why you are writing this story
Understanding your motivation for writing your story is also helpful. It might be that you have been carrying around this story with you and have always wanted to tell it, it might be that you woke up in the middle of the night struck with an entirely random idea, or it might be that you just want to give it a go. Be clear about your motivation and your expectations too.

Make a realistic plan
Having a proper plan in place before you begin will help you to realistically map out exactly what you have to do to complete your book, and the time it will take to do so. You can then set yourself goals and deadlines to keep you on track.

Familiarize yourself with common challenges and think about how you might overcome them
There are many obstacles that all writers will face on their writing journeys. Read and learn about them and think about what you will do when faced with them. Having solutions already in place means you will be better equipped to deal with challenges as and when they arrive.

Be a bad writer
Understand that you are unlikely to be this brilliant writer as soon as you start. Good writing is a process; first drafts are usually bad. Accepting that some of your writing might be terrible and may well make you cringe is a good place to start from. At the beginning just focus on getting your writing down instead of making it amazing.

Buy lots of books to read
Reading is one of the most helpful things a writer can do. Buy lots of books that you think will inspire and influence you, before you start your book. This way you’ll always have something new to pick up and will keep reading alongside the writing process.

Get help
Get a writing buddy to keep you motivated and to share work and ideas with along the way. A writing buddy will mean you are more likely to keep writing. Also sourcing other people to help you such as writers groups, online forums, editors, cover designers and anyone else you might need before you start will keep you organised and on track and leave more time to focus on your writing.

Enjoy the journey!
Remember, writing is supposed to be a positive experience, and it’s good always to remember that. Start writing with a great attitude, and try to think of obstacles as exciting challenges you must find solutions too. The more you enjoy the journey, the more like you are to keep on going!

Doing the above before you even put pen to paper can help you focus and stay committed to your writing. This way you are far more likely to achieve your goals and enjoy the process of working towards them too.

I feel I was prepared in most of these areas. Though I'm not too sure about the "familiarize yourself with common challenges" one. And I'm still unable to find writing partners or a group. I saw that there is a writing workshop at the local arts council center, but it's on Wednesday nights and will conflict with the Advanced Memoir Writing Class that I plan to take (I sent in the registration for that class yesterday), at least for the six weeks that the memoir writing class will run. 

And I didn't try to map out a plan as described above, as I was not aware of this idea when I first started writing. So I guess not knowing that one set me back a little in trying to get to the next step in finding an editor. But I won't let it stop me from trying. Just knowing where to look is what has been difficult. 

Despite all this, I think I can continue. I just didn't know about these preparations until today.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Black Cat Peeps!

It's not even October yet and I'm already starting to think about Halloween. But that may be since it's been in the stores since August. I've already indulged on bag of candy corn and know it won't be the last one this season.

Today at Target I saw the Halloween Marshmallow Peeps and among them were the Black Cat Peeps. I haven't seen these ones in about 10 years. I always see the pumpkin and the ghost peeps, though and about two years ago first noticed the tombstone peeps and last year was the first time I saw the green monster head ones.

I could not believe I found them, so I had to get some. I know they won't be the last ones I get this season. It's still only September after all.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Writing Lessons Worth Remembering

Writing Lessons Worth Remembering - Writer's

When it comes to our writing, we all have different ways of working best. Because of this it 's hard to give writing advice that is going to suit everyone. There is no one size fits all’ approach to writing, and, for many writers, it is most helpful to try and experiment with different methods and approaches until they find the way that makes them their most effective, productive and brilliant.

However, to get there writers may need to try writing in different ways, at different times, in different places and so on, to discover how to be at their writing best. It’s also important to remember that there is always more to learn and new avenues to explore when it comes to our writing. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep testing and pushing yourself - that way you’ll never end up stagnant and will always be improving.

With that in mind, here are some tips that every writer should try.

Stop writing linearly
Try writing your next piece not in chronological order. You may find this incredibly refreshing and your ability to concentrate on each scene as a standalone piece will improve - which may make for a better story overall.

Work on different projects at the same time
It can be easy to get writing fatigue if we focus all our energy on just one project. OK, so your book might be your pride and joy and the thing you want to concentrate on the most - but have a couple of smaller, side projects on the go as well. This way you can take a break from your novel, and gain some distance from it, without stopping writing altogether - and then return to it with renewed energy and enthusiasm when you’re ready.

Switch between writing and editing
If you write your entire book without looking back, editing it will seem like a mammoth and somewhat overwhelming task. Try writing a chapter at a time and then editing it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but at least when you reach the end of your novel, you will know you have already edited out the most common mistakes.

Always get feedback
Writers all need to get feedback on their work, and learn how to take it if it’s helpful, or reject it if it’s useless!

Read both good and bad literature
Understanding the differences between good and bad literature will help you ensure yours is the former! Therefore, don’t just restrict yourself to reading incredible books. Pick some you think might be terrible too - you can learn just as many lessons from these.

Write down your writing goals, and create deadlines
Having clear, visual writing goals and deadlines to achieve them will keep you moving forward and pushing yourself to achieve that next writing milestone.

Be organised
When it comes to time management, research, having a tidy workspace, being productive, and editing and marketing your book, the thing that will help you the most is being organised. An efficient organiser will have plans, timelines, deadlines and will always be one step ahead of themselves. Being organised will stop you panicking or becoming overwhelmed and will help you to approach each stage of your writing with a clear head and a sense of purpose.

Have patience, positivity and determination
Learning how to remain positive every day will stop you from wasting your time despairing or becoming overly critical. Having determination will keep you going even when you feel like giving up, and being patient will stop you from rushing and allow you to remain calm in those long waits when you have sent your book to publishers and editors and are hoping for a response.

These writing tips are certainly worth taking on board. Some are just good advice, and some are more practical and may not work for you. But good writing is all about testing and experimenting, so why not give them a go and see if they improve your writing and help you to become more effective?

It seems I have already been following some of these tips, namely the first two. When I began writing my memoir, I began thinking in terms of subjects rather than time frames. Some subjects I recalled seemed to take place over different periods of time. In two cases, a chapter is devoted to a particular year,  including on 2001 in the months and days leading up to 9/11. One family friend said there was too much jumping around, that I should follow a timeline. Upon hearing this, I panicked at the thought of having to start over again, but then decided I didn't have to. Sometime later, I saw something about not writing memoirs in chronological order. Before seeing that, though, I had also decided that the way I had written it seemed best for me. No one else who has seen my story has commented on the lack of chronology, so I guess I've done all right.
And I have been working on two different stories at once, but have been away from the memoir for  while now, occasionally glancing at the document saved on my computer. And it's been days since I last worked on the diary novel I have been trying.  
I did do a lot of editing of the memoir and still am not done yet. I think I have said all I want to say, but fear that the next time i go over it, I'll see something I want to put in or take out (mostly put in). 
I've been trying to get feedback, but if you seen some of my other posts, finding someone to get feedback from hasn't been easy. There are not enough writers around where I live and so few others seem interested in reading what I have written. As for those to whom I did send the original more than a year, only a small number responded then.
Trying to create deadlines is one I haven't tried. But perhaps It's one of those that won't work for me, since the article says that not all the tips mentioned will work for all people.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Writing Challenges to Keep You Writing


All writers need some extra motivation from time to time, and while we may try our best to stick to our carefully planned out writing schedules, it is easy to fall off the wagon. Finding time to write can be tricky. Many of us have other jobs and busy family lives to attend to and being able to sit down for a proper productive writing session is something many writers consider to be a luxury.
However, by continuing to challenge yourself as a writer, you can stay motivated, keep learning and keep those creative cogs turning as well. Honing your creative skills, being more disciplined and striving to improve is key to any writer’s success.
So here are some creative writing challenges to try - ones which might help fire up your imagination and make you more determined to prioritise your writing over anything else.

National novel writing month
National novel writing month is a fantastic challenge where writers are asked to write a 50,000-word novel in just one month. To some, it might sound like a massive challenge but if you have the time and motivation to achieve it, just think how proud of yourself you’ll be!

Short story writing with a writing buddy
Find a writing buddy and promise each other you’ll complete one short story a week which you can then send to each other and critique. This will help you refine the art of storytelling, and because another person is involved, you are more likely to stick to your deadlines too. This can work by writing a chapter of your novel a week too if that’s what you would prefer to concentrate on.

A daily challenge
Try beginning the week by coming up with seven short story ideas. Then, each day, try to flesh one out. You don’t have to write loads, but try to complete a story a day. Creating an entire story regularly and challenging yourself to come up with fresh ideas each week is a good way of keeping you creative as well as writing all the time.

Style mimicking
Mimicking the style of another author can be an interesting way to challenge your versatility as a writer and help you find your unique voice. Make a list of topics or story ideas and then write a piece of fiction using another authors style. Or once you have finished a book by them, write another chapter to tag onto the end. To be even more inventive, try writing about a topic that the author would never usually write about themselves, i.e. a romance in the style of Stephen King and so on.

Emotion pieces
Try writing short pieces designed to evoke a very particular emotion from your reader. This will help you hone in on what it takes to connect with a reader and make them react emotionally. Some examples could be:
Make your reader laugh
Make your reader cry
Make your reader angry
Make your reader scared

Give them a go, and you’ll soon start to get a sense of what it takes to bring about an emotional impact.

Keeping your mind busy, experimenting with new styles and ideas and making sure you don’t get writing fatigue is so important to ensure you keep writing and stay motivated. So if you are able why not try the above challenges to see how they work for you? Let us know what great writing challenges you have taken part in too!

How many of you writers have tried any of these? I'd been wanting to find some exercises to help with writing when I saw this article this morning. I'm currently on hiatus from the memoir and have only written blogs in the last two days. This week, I'm hoping to work more on the diary novel or try something new. The journaling class we were supposed to start at work this month has been postponed till October. I plan to try that class.

And who has participated in the National Novel Writing Month? How is it? Someone I knew in college has participated in recent years. It sounds like bit of work to get 50,000 words in a single month. It took me more than a month--more than year, even--to get past the original word count of 27K-somthing from the beginning. 

Do you have any other ideas like these? I'd love some suggestions.

And I'd like to wish a happy birthday to fellow blogger and writer Stephanie Faris today. 

#Birthday quotes about life 2015#Birthday quotes about life 2015

Monday, September 18, 2017

What Do Editors Hate?


What Do Editors Hate? - Writer's

A piece of advice every writer should follow is to hire a professional editor to go through their work, once they have completed their book.
However, to actually prepare your manuscript for that stage, it’s a good idea to be aware of the common pitfalls that writer’s fall into. If you know what editors hate, you can make their lives easier and save you time and money too.
Not only is it good to look out for and fix the mistakes that editors hate before you send your book to them, but also for when you send your book to publishers and agents. If you want them to seriously consider your work, checking you have already eliminated any of these editors bugbears from your book before you send it off will give you a much better chance of success.
So what is it that editors hate? Let’s take a look.

No basic grasp of grammar or spelling
If every second word is a spelling mistake and every sentence is punctuated incorrectly, it’s going to take a huge effort and many hours to get through your book. This will mean editors have less time to concentrate on structure, character development and plot - elements which are important to receive feedback on. Do yourself a favour and run your manuscript through a spelling and grammar checker before you pass it to an editor.

Huge passages focusing on backstory
Having backstory is useful and a device to establish your characters and allow the readers insight into their past lives. However, if you focus too much on backstory both the editor and reader will get bored. Include details that are relevant and necessary - cut the rest out.

An entire chapter where the character is walking somewhere, driving somewhere or sitting in bed reminiscing
An excellent book will be fast paced and full of action - if a character spends too much time getting somewhere or reminiscing about something, this slows down the pace of your book - a pet peeve of editors.

Making your story overly dramatic will make it seem farcical and unbelievable. Readers need to buy into your story, to believe it - editors know that and so should you.

Making the same point over and over again
If you draw out a point laboriously or repeat it in different ways over and over again, it simply looks like you are trying to hit a word count rather than write a story that appeals to your readers. If you say something well, you only need to say it once.

Going into too much detail
Creativity is all about having poetic licence, and beautiful descriptions can be really affecting in a book and enhance your story significantly. However, when you spend an entire paragraph describing a vase in your characters living room, it better be seriously significant, otherwise you need to cut it down. Overwriting is a big no no for editors.

Silly inconsistencies
When you are editing and redrafting your novel, look out for inconsistencies. These can be anything from where a character is standing to the time of year. Inconsistencies are easy to make but will frustrate your editor as these should be picked up by you.

Repetitive vocabulary
If you continuously use the same descriptive word this will quickly get tiresome for your readers. Try to be unique and exciting with all your descriptions. If you know you overuse a word, try doing a ‘find and replace’ search of your manuscript so you can easily pick these up and change them.

Long passages of dialogue
Dialogue creates immediacy, can drive the action forward and reveals more about your characters. However, don’t turn every piece of dialogue into a massive speech or monologue. Use it as a device to break up the narrative instead.

Telling rather than showing
Editors hate it when you tell the reader something rather than showing them. Comb through your novel and pick up instances of when you are doing this - this will save your editor having to point them all out for you!

If you can go through your manuscript before you send it to an editor, agent or publisher and look out for these ten things, you’ll make their and your lives so much easier. So make sure you take the time to edit your book first thoroughly, and you’ll find you get so much more out of your editor and are more likely to have a positive response from a publisher too!

I'm now wondering how many of these I have done. And how I can find them. I visited this editor's site and left a message, but have not heard anything. This was the editor that bar owner in my town had employed for her memoir (she gave me the editor's site name).  Even though I have not yet met with an editor, I'm already feeling anxiety over an editor reading my memoir and finding examples of the points mentioned in this article. 

About that first point--I wonder if  this paragraph would count:

The daycare had no structured activities. The kids just wandered around on the dirt ground that was covered with gravel in various shades of grey. They played on the swings, slide and monkey bars, paved roads in the dirt on which they played with toy cars. Played tag or games like Cops and Robbers or Cowboys and Indians, or played house, always arguing over who got to play what parts. Playing hide-and-seek, crawling in and out of the gigantic monster-truck tires randomly placed on the playground on their sides, or the old steel barrels that were painted red or orange and placed on their sides to be used as tunnels. Climbing on and hiding inside the jungle gym. Lying on the hammock hanging between and shaded by two large trees that never seemed to be trimmed, playing in the clubhouses and forts, and in the large empty building behind the swings and under another of the large trees, and that was as big as a barn or a garage. Running relay races down the cellar-door cover, which was adjacent to the playhouse.
Can you see what I am getting at?

And the showing-not-telling one has always been difficult one for me to grasp. Once when I wrote something, my dad, who tends to get over critical about stuff I have written, immediately mentioned this point. And just recently, this came up in my memoir writing class. This one will be hard for me to detect.

I'm still hoping to find others who will want to read my story before I let an editor see it. But still to no avail. I only got some feedback from those to whom I had sent my original draft more than a year ago.