Inspiring writing reminder

“I wonder how old we are when we stop thinking like kids?”  – This Kid Reviews Books  (Quote used with permission. Thanks, Erik!)

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PiBoIdMo 2014 Logo Revealed!

Originally posted on Writing for Kids (While Raising Them):

Who can believe it’s almost November? I know, it was just November last year, right? And we had a whole buncha fun creating new picture book story concepts! (Need a recap? Look here.)

I’m still firming up the festivities for 2014 and will post the guest blogger line-up soon. But while you wait for that and for registration to begin (on October 25th, right here), here’s a peek at this year’s logo, created by the talented Vin Vogel, whose new picture book MADDI’S FRIDGE is out now from Flashlight Press, with author Lois Brandt.

Each year  I ask the logo illustrator to include an important detail—a lightbulb, to represent ideas being created. This year, Vin had a delicious idea! (Was it from the FRIDGE? Sure seems like it. Well, maybe it was from the FREEZER.)

piboidmo2014banner

Registration for the November PiBoIdMo online event will commence October 25th. Individuals AND classes are invited to…

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Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – part 21: the Dreaded Pace Plague

Welcome back! Over the next several more months we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrison‘s teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read all the segments by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on the drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month twenty-one:

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“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 21: The Dreaded Pace Plague

Last month we talked about decreasing the tension at certain points in your novel or your story (See # 20. Down, Down, Down) We included the unavoidable tension-easers like page breaks and the ends of chapters, and the scripted, necessary tension-easers that keep the readers “in” the story by varying the pace of the action.

IMG_1426Photograph Copyright 2002, Neil Harrison.

Today, we’ll discuss those tension easers that are NOT wanted. Most of these are self-explanatory and easily corrected if the writer is watchful. Here’s my list:

1. A difficult word or name.

If you’ve read my Alaska novels, you know that I’m incredibly guilty in this area. Most of the names of my main characters in these novels are Native words. I was aware of the negative aspect of this choice, but I decided the authenticity was worth it. Maybe I was right or maybe I was wrong, but if you elect to use difficult names or words be sure you weigh the consequences. They do slow the reader down.

2. A poorly constructed sentence.

One of the best ways to catch these in your writing — besides having a good editor — is to be sure one of your rewrites is verbal. When you stumble over your own sentence, you know it needs tweaking.

3. The author tells the story instead of showing it through the character’s eyes.

I could write a book about this one, so to shorten things up, I’ll just refer you to post #6 in this series, “20/20.”

4. Typos and grammatical errors.

A last careful rewrite, which I’ll discuss in a future post, is essential to eliminate this problem. Nonetheless, a few mistakes will still creep in. Most readers will tolerate those few.

5. Long passages of description.

Today’s readers prefer to have description offered in small doses. Cut, cut, cut! You’ll be able to give the same information via the more pace-friendly method of using a sentence on one page and two sentences on another, a phrase here and there.

6. Blatant preaching, even if the main character is the preacher.

Readers pick up a novel because they want a story. Let the story carry your theme and play out any convictions you are trying to address. Your reader will find it more convincing and you’re more likely to win a following for your second novel!

7. Non-visual writing.

If you can’t see it when you write it, close your eyes and visualize until you can. Then, write the scene.

8. Lack of sensory description.

Your readers want to know not only what your characters do but what they hear, taste, feel, see, and smell!

9. Long internal monologues by your characters.

What I said about preaching? Ditto.

10. Stilted and unrealistic dialogue.

Read your dialogue out loud. Everyone uses a different vocabulary for speaking than they do for writing. For your dialogue, use a speaking vocabulary. If you’re having trouble with a dialect or just everyday language in your dialogues, watch and LISTEN to a television show or a movie. Then write.

11. Factual errors in research.

Some readers care desperately about this and some don’t. I’m one of those desperate ones. Although I understand that mistakes happen, and the most carefully researched novels can have errors, a poorly researched novel can make me livid, especially if the errors are manufactured to support the author’s agenda. Do your research. If readers know you’ve done your best, they’ll forgive you for an occasional mistake, and author’s notes are a great place to ask for this forgiveness!

Well, that’s my list. Please add to it! I’d love your input.

Strength to your pen!

Sue

 *Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy, and a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you to come back November 27, 2014, for part 22.

Skipping rocks – a fun video

I was talking with a friend about how sometimes similar things happen close together in unusually high numbers. What we were discussing was deaths of people we know. In my circle of family and friends there have been several since my aunt’s passing (age 75) in February — one in June (in his 80’s), one in August (age 97), one in September (in his 80’s) the same day my dad had his heart attack, and three deaths this month – a cousin in his 80’s, a former neighbour age 66, and a cousin age 65. Dad has recovered well from the heart attack, by the way, and attended five of those funerals, the last being three in ten days!

I am glad for the wedding I mentioned in my last post; it was a lovely lift after so many losses. It was a sweet, touching, meaningful event, emotional for the bride and groom … and, of course, for sappy me, and a few others. The bonus was the weather. Friday we got a lot of rain, Sunday we got cool wind and some rain showers, but Saturday … Saturday was so warm and beautiful for an October outdoor wedding at an inn by the bay. It was a day much like my husband’s and my wedding day in late October many years ago, even a little warmer. Often by the end of the month it is cold, maybe even snow flurries, but there are the occasional Autumns that have remarkable weather. Since the wedding on Saturday the temperature has turned and rain is expected for much of this week, so that day was such a blessing – in many ways.

Now on to other things. Today in place of a book review I want to share something I found that is so cool and enjoyable. Have you ever skipped rocks on a lake or pond? Have you really listened? How about when the water was frozen? Check out this video; it’s remarkable and amusing.

I have tried to skip rocks, but I can’t say I’m very good at it, not like my husband. It takes several tries for me to get it right. How about you? Have you skipped rocks? What’s been your best rock skipping record?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

a funny ad about dads and family values

It’s been a busy, stressful week and month – for me. I haven’t been able to even think about writing a decent post and haven’t finished a book review.  Today we are going to a special intimate wedding in a beautiful little town on the ocean. 

I will be back as soon as things settle down a little. In the meantime, here is a very funny ad which you may have already seen, but I think it’s worth sharing.  It is promoting family values in a funny way.  Enjoy!

Blessings to you all.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

 

 

 

A baby elephant falls on his back; look at what his mother does!

When I saw this video I had to share it with you.  This elephant calf falls on his back in the mud. Look HERE at what happened next!  It will make you go awwwww!!!  or Wowwww!   :)

Elephants are the most amazing and wonderful animals. They are tenderhearted, intelligent, and family focused. It’s painful to even think about what happens to a baby or the mother when they are separated by people who take them into captivity far from where they would learn life skills from their family and have a natural life. Elephants need protection. They need understanding. They are NOT big dumb animals.

What do you think about all this?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Do you want to publish your picture book as an eBook? Here’s how!

Hi All!

There has been so much debate about paper books versus eBooks, and I was one whose heels were dug in for a long time about that. There was nothing for me but paper books until eventually I tried eBooks out of necessity. Many people are starting out with them rather than publishing traditionally, and if I was going to review their book I had to accept the new way. I found that it isn’t all bad, and even has good points. :)  I won’t give up my ‘real’ books but I can enjoy eBooks, too.

Times have changed and publishing has definitely turned the corner. Are you a children’s writer who has been toying with the idea of publishing your book for Kindle? Does the process scare you just a little? (Me, too!)

If you read my last post you will find out how to do it much easier than you had anticipated. Kindle Kids Mastery course is now available — and at an introductory price of $70 off! I won’t go into detail about it all over again as you can read about it in my last post, but I will add this:

* Amazon’s surprise release of the free Kindle Kids’ Book Creator
software on September 3 was an utter game-changer.  Now anyone can create a richly illustrated picture book and publish it on Amazon.

* The editors of Children’s Book Insider, the industry’s largest
publication for children’s writers, immediately set about creating a
course that would explain the software and demystify the entire process, from finding illustrations through publishing and marketing illustrated Kindle children’s books.  They’ve called it Kindle Kids Mastery.

* The release of the first Kindle Kids Tablet last week raised the
stakes even higher:  It’s now clear that Amazon intends to go all in on
kids’ books and they’re giving authors the tools to help stock their
store with books.   This is HUGE news for children’s authors and a
golden opportunity for those who establish themselves as Kindle authors RIGHT NOW.  Kindle Kids Mastery allows any writer to do exactly that.

* Kindle Kids Mastery takes authors step by step through the process,
using screen-capture videos to show exactly how to layout, convert and publish their eBooks.  It also uses the same technique to show how to find illustrators, get low-cost design services, upload their eBook, create an Author Page and much more.

* All buyers get lifetime access with free updates. That’s such a great deal!

Because this is the first and only course specifically about Amazon’s plunge into illustrated children’s books and the opportunity it creates, Kindle Kids Mastery is the immediate answer for all writers to take advantage of this opportunity.  So … if you are thinking about it don’t miss out! :) Their special introductory price ends at midnight October 15’14!

Simply click on Kindle Kids Mastery anywhere in this post to view their full table of contents and take their video tour.

I hope you find it as exciting as I do. Let me know when you get your book out there using Kindle Kids Mastery!

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

 

Exciting book publishing news, a Q & A, and a limited-time introductory offer!

This is a different review and interview – very exciting game-changing news!

Did you hear Amazon’s big news September 3’14?: Amazon today announced KDP Kids, designed to help children’s book authors prepare, publish and promote both illustrated and chapter books in Kindle Stores worldwide. Children’s book authors can use Amazon’s new Kindle Kids’ Book Creator tool to easily create illustrated children’s books that take advantage of Kindle features like text pop-ups. Once the book is ready, authors can upload it to KDP in just a few simple steps, and use KDP’s category, age and grade range filters to help millions of Amazon customers choose the right books for their kids. Authors can earn royalties of up to 70%, while keeping their rights and maintaining control of their content. Authors can also choose to enroll their books in KDP Select for additional royalty opportunities like Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and access to marketing tools like Kindle Countdown Deals and Free Book Promotions. Get started today at kdp.amazon.com/kids.”   But first READ ON! 

KDP is Kindle Direct Publishing, and if you would love to attempt it but feel you aren’t tech savvy enough to manage it, or if you just want a good tutorial to help you, there is help I am excited to tell you about! The editors of Children’s Book Insider, the industry’s largest publication for children’s writers, immediately set about creating a course that would explain the software and demystify the entire process, from finding illustrations through publishing and marketing illustrated Kindle children’s books. They’ve called it Kindle Kids Mastery. With no further delay, here’s the information you need, thanks to Jon of Children’s Book Insider. (applause) And please forgive my formatting of this Q & A which may not work out the way I want it to.

What is Kindle Kids Mastery?

A comprehensive online course that teaches authors how to create an illustrated children’s book in Amazon’s new Kids Book Creator software, format, convert it and publish it to Amazon’s Kindle store. The course also covers, in detail, how to find illustrations and offers expert advice for marketing a Kindle eBook.

How is it delivered?
The course is entirely online and includes videos and downloadable PDF transcripts. Buyers get lifetime access, and access to Updates which are being added regularly to the site.
 
 
How much does it cost?

After October 15, 2014, the price will be $197. Until then, the introductory price of $127 is in effect. There are no additional costs – everything is included.

 

What does the course include?

There are nine modules that cover:
* 5 Things You MUST Do Before Creating Your Kindle eBook
* Finding Illustrations and Creating Your eBook Cover (videos cover everything from finding a professional illustrator through using low-cost design services and adapting stock images)
* Creating Your eBook Using Kindle Kids Book Creator Software (a series of videos that allow you to watch over Laura’s shoulder as she creates eBooks in the software. Everything is broken down in the simplest terms, and we explain every major aspect of the software.)
* Uploading to Amazon and Creating Your Author’s Page (Videos that include some very important things, such as how to create a strong description and how to maximize your author page.)
* ONE-ON-ONE SESSIONS: Kindle Marketing Advice From the Pros (three in-depth interviews – on video with full transcripts – with authors who are masters at Kindle marketing. You’ll learn how to get reviews, how to draw readers to you and how to start building a fan base today. Experts include Amy Harrop, Deb Drum, Katie Davis and Beau Blackwell)
* A full eBook on how to adapt your own photographs or stock images and turn them into unique illustrations. We’re on record as saying that hiring a professional illustrator is always the first and best choice, but if your budget doesn’t allow that right now, we’ll show you how to create really cool pieces of art from existing images.
Plus there are cheat sheets, a checklist and more.

 

Who created Kindle Kids Mastery?

The course was personally created by Laura Backes and Jon Bard, editors of Children’s Book Insider for the past 25 years.
 
 
 

QUESTIONS ABOUT KINDLE KIDS’ BOOK CREATOR SOFTWARE:

What, exactly, does this new software allow me to do?
Kindle Kids Book creator is a standalone piece of software that you download on to your computer. It takes you step by step through the creation of an illustrated children’s eBook. You can create in landscape mode (to mimic traditional picture book layouts) or portrait mode (for easy readers, middle grade and YA novels).
Authors can create text pop-ups, so even readers using small screens can easily view text. The software outputs your eBook in .mobi file format, ready to be uploaded to Amazon.
What’s the big deal?
The real breakthrough here is the ability to create heavily illustrated children’s books. And the ability to do it landscape mode, which is traditional for picture books. If you’re creating a young adult novel or other book that doesn’t require much in the way of illustrations, you’re probably better off not using the software and uploading your formatted novel directly to Amazon. But, if you’re creating picture books, illustrated easy readers or illustrated chapter books, this is a major step forward.
What does it cost?
The software is free, and uploading to Amazon is free. Amazon makes money on each sale of your eBook, not on the eBook creation process.
Is it truly something an author with no technical ability can use?
From our testing, we’d say yes. It’s intuitive and nicely designed. There are a few things that true tech newbies may find a bit confusing at first, but they’re easily overcome.
Does this software work on a Mac? (Also: Does this software work on Windows XP?)
According to the official download page, the Windows version works on Windows 7 and 8,so it won’t run on XP. The Mac version runs on OSX version 10.7 and above.
Is anyone making money selling Kindle children’s books on Amazon?
One of the folks we interviewed for Kindle Kids Mastery is a children’s author who is exclusively creating Kindle eBooks. He told us that — just from being part of the Kindle Unlimited plan (Amazon’s Netflix-like subscription service) he’s getting between $1.80-$2.00every time someone downloads and reads one of his books. And that’s on top of his direct sales. So clearly authors — particularly those who have built a promotional platform (blog,social media, mailing list, etc.) and aren’t shy about advocating for their books — are seeing real benefits.
Illustrations are so important. “Any cheap thing will do” probably won’t in the long run, as you’re going to be competing with the very best in illustration.
This is certainly true, but I’ll hearken back to the answer to the question just above this one. The ability to self-publish creates the opportunity for authors to create different types of books with different purposes. If you’re creating a lyrical picture book with text that you’ve slaved over for months, you should absolutely do everything you can to employ the services of a world-class illustrator. But, if you’re putting together something less “meaty” that’s designed to sell as an eBook for $2.99 and provide a child a bit of fun, sharing royalties or paying a big work-for-hire bill may not fit into your budget. In that case, looking for inexpensive alternatives is perfectly reasonable.
The bottom line? If your dreams of self-publishing are being held back by a lack of artistic talent and/or lack of budget to hire a top artist, you shouldn’t just throw in the towel. There are ways to get good quality artwork that can fit your needs. But I’ll certainly agree with your main point — illustrations are extremely important and a talented illustrator can work real magic on a book. In an ideal situation, I would certainly advocate for hiring a professional.

 

The ability to self-publish easily is flooding the market with amateurish books. Without gatekeepers (editors) to sift the bad from the good, how can any of us get the attention of readers?
You’re certainly right about the amount of truly bad books being published. But that’s a natural outgrowth of the democratization of the publishing process. The same thing happened to music a decade ago — when anyone with a computer and microphone could record a song and release it online, music fans suddenly found themselves engulfed in a sea of bad music. But they adapted — review blogs, curated lists and recommendation-based services like Pandora helped separate the wheat from the chaff.
We’re still in the very early stages of publishing’s digital revolution. I have no doubt at all that similar outlets will arise in our world to help make sense of the chaos.
But here’s the key — and its a big one: In order to rise above the masses, your work must be excellent. Craft is more important than ever. The path to success right now is by getting word of mouth: parent to parent, teen to teen. Bad books don’t get talked about. Good books do.
Don’t publish crap just because Amazon is making it easy. Work your craft.

 

Doesn’t that sound exciting?! (Thank you Laura and Jon!) Because this is the first and only course specifically about this, Kindle Kids Mastery is
the immediate answer for all writers to take advantage of this
opportunity.
I’ve been in communication with Jon of Children’s Book Insider (who supplied me with the above info) after I learned of their exciting course,
read all the info, listened to an interview with Laura of CBI, became fully convinced and purchased the course! I’d been inspired to consider preparing one of my children’s book manuscripts for converting to an eBook. I know, shocking, since I was one who was so slow and hesitant in even reading eBooks. I love real paper books, but it seems that sometimes the better way to go is electronically, although once a book is an eBook it doesn’t mean it can’t later become a paper book as well. Many do.

Now is your chance to do something about this great price cut before it’s gone. To learn more and get Laura’s “Kindle Kids Mastery” course at the $70 off introductory price, go HERE to Kindle Kids Mastery now! There you’ll find a full table of contents and a video tour.

The $70 discount expires midnight, October 15, 2014! Please don’t put it off and miss this great deal like I tend to do. (But not this time!) And remember: all buyers get lifetime access with free updates!

When you get a book ready to publish with the help of this course, let me know how you liked it.

You can find Kindle Kids’ Book Creator and Kindle Kids Mastery course listed on my Writers Helps page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)