Thursday, December 29, 2011

Changes Happening in 2012

Quote: “There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes.” ~Wm. Makepeace Thackeray
 
I wanted to share some changes happening with me and SFC Publishing. Some of you may have already heard about some or all of these changes through my newsletter, blog talk radio shows or via email, but beginning January 2012, SFC Publishing and its many divisions will be moving to a new network server/host. This means our websites will be going through a change over so if you try logging on and get a message, know we are just in the middle of a website move. We are hoping everything will go smoothly and readers will not even notice the switch, but I just wanted to make you all aware of it. Also, SFC Newsletter for Writers and Stories for Children Magazine will be cutting back to 6 issues a year. A choice I, and the rest of the SFC Team, did not make lightly. We hope you can understand and support our changes here at SFC Publishing.

Secondly, the SFC Team and myself will be switching email accounts. We will be notifying our contact lists of this change as well. However, if you want to contact me about the World of Ink Network, WOI Virtual Tours or anything related to SFC Publishing, I can be reached at vsgrenier AT gmail DOT com. If you would like to contact me about my personal writing, editing services or this blog, email me at virginiasgrenier AT gmail DOT com.

Besides focusing on the changes at SFC Publishing, I have been busy with networking. I find this time of year is one of the easiest times to put my marketing/networking foot forward. If you think about it, how many opportunities have you had to meet new people and share about your writing at company, writing and community parties/events? 

I started the month of December off by helping and hosting my local writing group (The League of Utah Writers – Heritage Writer Group) holiday party. It was a blast as you can see from the picture below. I not only hosted the party as the chapter president, but I also worked with my workshop committee chair (a few months prior) to offer a contest. What made the contest so much fun was our judges where from our local school district (teachers) and we invited them to the party so they could be there when the winners were announced. I also went one-step further and purchased trophies for our 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.
I followed this party up with a nice little get together with the S.O. (Sheriff Dept.) that my husband was invited to attend. Now I could have played the quite wife, and in most conversations--I did as much, but when the opportunity presented itself…I jumped at it and shared about my writing. Let me tell you, there is nothing like watching a bunch of law enforcement officers pulling out their smart phones to type up my websites to learn more about my books and Stories for Children Magazine. The best part…some of the officers either work at schools or have spouses who did. Now that is marketing.

These are just two of the opportunities I had with holiday parties. I also gave my picture book, Babysitting SugarPaw away to teachers and librarians my children received helped by or classes they have attended. I even dropped a few books by my family’s doctor and dental offices. Most likely, my book will be added to the other books in the lobby for kids to read while waiting for their appointments. Some may go home with workers, who will share the book with others. 
The point is, this time of years gives many opportunities to market your writing/book in a way that is not bold and screaming…buy me! Building network connections is the softer side to marketing and one that can pay off later down the road.

Lastly, the SFC team and I want to say “Thank You” for everything. We wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season and New Year with your families and friends. Wishing you all a very success 2012!

Also, don’t forget to check out the January SFC World of Ink Tours. We have some great authors touring with us every month. You can learn more about our World of Ink Tours and the authors we are currently hosting and have hosted at http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com/WorldofInkTours.aspx

In addition, tune in to blog talk radio’s World of Ink Network every other Friday where I’ll be hosting the “What is Success” show on Fridays and the “Stories for Children” show on Mondays. You can also catch me monthly on the “Families Matter” show, which airs live on the 3rd Wednesday of every month. You can learn more about BTR’s World of Ink Network, our guest and hosts, and our shows at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/worldofinknetwork or on our blog http://worldofinknetwork.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Guest Post: 16 Quick Writing Tips You Can Use Today

  1.  Read everything! You're bound to get ideas from the most unlikely of areas/sources.
  2. Write about things that matter to you. If the passion is missing, the writing won't be any good, so make it count.
  3. Write whenever you get the chance. Got a spare minute? Write a poem or thought! It keeps you in practice and gets the creative juices flowing.
  4. Be clear in what you're trying to say. Floral language is more likely to put people off reading your work than clear, concise language.
  5. Put your idea on paper before you begin to write. A quick outline or a couple of bullet points are useful as they help to keep the piece on track.
  6. Don't edit as you write; do it after the piece you're writing is finished. Stopping to edit interrupts the flow of your thoughts.
  7. Become familiar with writing styles. For certain publications, editors may ask you for references in your work. A working knowledge of APA, MLA, AP and Chicago styles is always an advantage.
  8. Rather than banging your head against a brick wall, take a break when writer's block hits you. Take a walk, meet friends -- just spend 30 minutes away from the computer.
  9. Break down long articles by using sub-headings, especially if you're writing for an Internet-based publication. It will hold the attention of people longer and allow them to browse through.
  10. Use strong verbs in stories, but try to avoid adverbs as they tend to reduce the effect a sentence has on a reader.
  11. Build up character profiles for your main protagonists so you can look up the smallest details. If you want the reader to know them then you will have to know them too!
  12. Be prepared to present full articles or stories on spec. Yes, they may be rejected, but when you're starting out, it may be the only option you have.
  13. Brainstorm. Set aside 20 minutes every day and write down whatever happens to be in your head, new ideas galore!
  14. The first paragraph is the most important. It's the decider as to whether someone will read on or move on, so make your first paragraph a good one.
  15. Don't be afraid to recycle work by revamping it for another publication. Why waste all that effort when you can reuse it?
  16. Hone your writing skills by writing letters to local papers and magazines. Any publishing is good publishing. 

These tips were brought to you by Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ, WriteSparks!™ creator WriteSparks.com
 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Interview Friday with Frank Scully

Frank Scully was born and raised in a small town in North Dakota and received a Bachelor’s degree in History with Phi Beta Kappa Honors and a Juris Doctor degree in Law from the University of North Dakota.  He then served more than five years as a Judge Advocate General Corps Officer in the U.S. Army in the U.S., Vietnam, and Thailand. After that he attended the prestigious Thunderbird School and received a Masters in Business Administration with honors. In his professional career he has worked as an executive with large aerospace and defense manufacturers and also owned his own small business. 
Depending on the vagaries of the universe he has been well off at times and broke, but never broken at other times. Blessed with an understanding wife who gave him twin sons, he has remained through it all a dreamer whose passion is writing stories that will entertain readers. 
Empty Time is his latest release.

VS: I want to thank you, Frank for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today. What do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?

Frank: I don’t know that it can truly be balanced. I have a full time job as well so I am stealing time wherever possible to write or do the promotion work necessary. I don’t have enough time in the day to do everything that I schedule. My only rule in life is family first.

VS: How long have you been writing?

Frank: I have been writing since I graduated from college years ago. For most of that time, my writing was of the professional business or legal variety.  I first started to write books for publication almost 20 years ago. Of course, the first attempts were not ready for prime time and it took several years of practice to get it right so my work was ready for publication.

VS: What inspired you to write?

Frank: I have wanted to write since I was a freshman in college. I had a professor who told me I had some talent and said I should do something with it. However, it was a long time later before I actually got started. My wife was the catalyst. She finally got tired of me saying someday and bought me a word processor and told me to sit down and do it.

VS: What was the first thing you ever had published?

Frank: The first novel I had published was RESURRECTION GARDEN, which came out in January 2011. It is a mystery set in 1904 pioneer North Dakota. Jake Turner, a scarred veteran of the charge up San Juan Hill, has been a lone drifter through much of the settling of the west.  Opportunity was growing out of the newly turned sod of the North Dakota prairie in 1904 when he stopped to take a part time job as a Deputy Sheriff, expecting to move on again when the dark parts of his past catch up to him. He becomes a target for ruthless killers who want to stop him from solving a murder.  And that’s the least of his problems. It was a fun book to write and incorporates several personal aspects since my grandparents settled in North Dakota in the 1880s and my father was born there in 1904.

VS: Can you share with us a little about your current book and other books?


Frank: EMPTY TIME, my most recent released novel, is set in recent time and is a mystery thriller. Jim Lang is a corporate bureaucrat who sold his soul for a salary and the promise of promotion. Lang’s life sputtered into a workaholic rut on a middle rung of the corporate ladder while his colleagues, using his business plan, became the international business titans he once aspired to be.

Bad memories of busted marriages and broken promises are all that keep him company in his personal hours so he is more than willing to sacrifice that empty time to his job to make the corporation grow.  His bosses have one more sacrifice in mind for him.  To die for them.

Deceived, betrayed and framed for murder and massive stock fraud, his bosses plan for him to die and disappear.  Disappear, he does; die, he doesn’t.

Lang must face and conquer his old fears and guilt, and live up to the potential within. To save the people he loves he must put his life on the line to turn the tables on his former colleagues in an inter-continental, multi-billion dollar, fast paced and lethal game of corporate intrigue and treachery with bloody traps and deadly counter traps.

In DEAD MAN’S GAMBIT, detective-turned-Assistant DA, Mike Johnson finds himself living in a comfortable rut. That is, until Warren Rogga, a friend he helped convict is murdered in prison, leaving only a last request: Protect his family.

Mike owes Warren more than he can repay but is about to find out what it will cost him.  It had been an ugly case and is going to get uglier as it draws Mike back into its tangled web of sex, politics, greed, big money and cold hearted killers.

The evidence against Warren, a rich and powerful man, was overwhelming.  His mistress and illegitimate child were murdered.  He was there that night.  They had argued.  The murder weapon was found hidden on his property.  An open and shut case.  Mike couldn’t ignore the evidence he had collected and Warren went to prison.

When he starts to look into the case again, the justice system turns on him.  Forced out of his job as a DA, investigated by the police, hounded by the media, and manipulated by powerful people, Mike and his family and friends find their lives in danger as Mike becomes a player in the elaborate game of real life Monopoly played by a masquerade ball coterie of rich men, political power brokers, and an assortment of other crooks and criminals.  There is only one rule in the game.  Winner lives, loser dies.

Coming soon is BLOOD SINS set in 1958.  Bob Johnson, a decorated World War II veteran, former schoolteacher, and now Police Chief of Plainfield, and his family are enjoying a pretty idyllic life in the Fabulous Fifties except for the threat of nuclear war. The economy is booming, cars have fins, and television has three channels of news and entertainment.  Crimes are mostly relegated to the other side of the tracks. A long-buried secret pulls Bob into a bloody battle as he unravels a knot of clues to new and old crimes. Someone will have to pay in blood for those long dead sins.

VS: What do you enjoy most about writing?

Frank: The most enjoyable part of writing is the creation of characters and plot. Using my imagination to put these characters I have created into a situation and then working through how things turn out. Once I get into a story, it is almost like I am witnessing the events live and my job is to get it down on paper.

VS: What is the most difficult part of writing?

Frank: Sometimes dead ends occur in writing. What once looked like a promising story line turns out to go nowhere or into an alley from which there is no escape. Then you have to back up and completely wipe out that part of the book and begin again. It can be difficult to get going again because you don’t want to give up the investment you made in those chapters that no longer exist.

VS: What is the best writing advice you ever received?

Frank: Just to keep writing. You can’t get better at it without constant practice and work.

VS: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

Frank: I have two more mystery novels under contract with MuseItUp. GRAVEDIGGER’S OPEN HOUSE BRINGS BACK Mike Johnson from DEAD MAN’S GAMBIT. Mike is at one of life’s crossroads and doesn’t have a map.  While doing a few favors for the little old lady next door, he ends up cooking in a boiling, murderous stew of racism, blackmail, revenge and greed.  Fortunately, for Mike, he likes it spicy.

In VACATION MAN Jack Decker thought life sucked when he lost all his money, but that was before the bombs and the bullets started coming his way.

I am working on a seventh novel tentatively entitled DIGITAL DEATH that involves missing persons, software piracy, terrorists, spies and murder.

VS: What do you think are the basic ingredients of a good book?

Frank: There are many elements necessary for a good book but three essential ones are a great plot, strong characters and proper pacing. The plot is the skeleton around which you structure the book. Each bone is important and without the plot developed right the book will fail. The characters both good and bad, main and supporting have to fill out their role and be believable or the reader will lose interest. Pacing is vital to keep the reader turning the pages with anticipation. Don’t jerk around corners and lose the reader or bore them to sleep with endless needless detail.

VS: It has been wonderful to have you here. Frank, you have shared some great advice and getting to know you better has been a blast. I wish you much success and look forward to your upcoming books as well.

You can visit Frank’s website at www.frankjscully.com

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

American Chronicle | Spotlight on Comedian & Actor Sal Richards

I recently had the pleasure of working with Sal Richards on his book trailer for his autobiography BEHIND the LAUGHTER, HIDDEN TEARS. While working with Sal, I was not only able to read his book and watch the documentary the book is based on, but I was also able to meet the man behind the name personally. Sal Richards was born in Brooklyn, New York and in Sal´s words, "They ultimately poured the foundations for my successful career in show business." However, he didn´t start out as a Hollywood or Broadway Child Star. No, this man had to work from the bottom up and his climb to fame was met with many struggles, bumps and roadblocks. Sal in his biography said, "My father loved to make people laugh and often put on shows to entertain sick children at neighborhood hospitals." Unfortunately, his father died at an early age when Sal was only 7. However, the seed was planted and as a young boy, Sal started doing shows in grammar school and for the kids in the neighborhood. Later at the age of 18, Sal became the lead singer for a local group called the Royal-Aires. Those who don´t know Sal may wonder, How did he go from lead singer to a comedian? Sal shares this story in his book. He said, "As luck would have it the owner of Gallo Records, Lee Clarke happened to walk past while we were performing. He was so impressed he immediately offered us a recording contract. Shortly after being signed, I had an experience that would forever change my life. We were scheduled to perform at the Las Vegas Supper Club in Long Island, NY. That evening however, the comic emcee was unable to perform and I was given the opportunity to fill in for the evenings show. My act went so well, I was hired to be the house comic. That day marked the beginning of my remarkable career as a comedian." Soon after, Sal met his wonder and beautiful wife, RoseAnn. She has encouraged and supported Sal through everything during their 50 years of marriage. However, not all the stories are happily-ever-after for Sal and Ro. They lost their first child at birth, watched their oldest son fight cancer only to lose him at age 21 to adult respiratory distress syndrome and help their second son with addiction. Sal and Ro could have split up like many Hollywood marriages do, but these two turned to each other and fought for what is most important…family!

Read the full article here: American Chronicle | Spotlight on Comedian & Actor Sal Richards

Guest Post: Finding Your Write Time

What time of day do you write best or are most productive? Here are some tips to help you determine when your best time to write:

What's your writing power?
How long can you write without draining yourself? Are you able to write more when you write for two hours each day without taking a break or do you find that you're able to churn out a good article or finish a chapter in your novel if you write for say, four one-hour periods with three fifteen-minute breaks?

What's your alert level?
This is simply determining what time of day your mind is most creative, imaginative and alert. Is it in the morning? mid-morning? afternoon? mid-afternoon? middle of the night?

What are your distractions?
If you're a mom with kids to take care of, when's the best time that you can write? When they're at school? When the kids are napping or watching TV? If you're still single, when can you write without being distracted by family obligations or work?

Pick your write time!
Using the responses you have come up with in questions 1, 2 and 3, compare which times they jive. These are your ideal times to write. Try this out and see if it works. Use these times for writing, and only writing. Happy writing!

Wait! Here are some writing sparks to try:
When "blocked", prompts can help you get started. Odd combination of phrases, like "needle shaving hysterically", "greasy fighting bottle" or "digging hilariously", can stimulate the brain for possibilities.

Newspapers, especially tabloids, are great sources of story ideas. Skim the headlines and give them your own spin. Use those outrageous tabloid headlines to create your stories: "Californians Banned from Heaven", "Accountant Has Used the Same Pencil Everyday for 31 Years", or "Teen's Hair Changes Color...With Her Mood!"

Those good ole proverbs make great prompts. However, mixing them up can even get your creative brain working: "His belly is paved with best intentions", "One good turn injures the neighbors", or "Every cook breeds contempt."

Use metaphors as springboards to an endless possibility of stories: "a mile of polish", "a pot of dexterity", or "a clump of pity."


Copyright © Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ


Download an excerpt of The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between below:
authenticself-sampler.zip OR authenticself-sampler.pdf

If you want 3 writing *sparks* delivered to you every day for 31 days, check out WriteSparks!™ Daily HERE for info on how to get started -- it's free :o)
Thank you for reading. Keep writing!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Interview Friday with K.S. Krueger


Although her background has been in business, K.S. Krueger has always loved to write. She has written poetry and several children’s stories originally for her eldest daughter. Kim enjoys the idea of seeing the world through the eyes of her imagination and finds herself submerged in the worlds she creates. Imagination has never been in short supply ever since she was a child.

Because her series rides a fine line between fantasy and reality, it calls each reader to decide for themselves if they BELIEVE!  Kim has always believed that when you find something you truly love to do, even if you think it is just a dream, find your passion, the gift that is within you, believe in yourself and follow that dream. “Let yourself be open to the possibilities that await. You never know where they might take you.”

Kim is a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. She is a writer, businesswoman, Reiki practitioner and spiritual person. She loves animals, nature and kids. Kim has lived in the Suburbs of Chicago all her life. She is creative and always tries to foster creativity in her own children as well as in others. She is the author of Traegonia The Sunbow Prophecy and Traegonia The Ember Rune. 

VS: I want to thank you for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today. It’s always a pleasure to talk with authors. To get things started, what do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?

K.S: My family is very involved with this project, as is Dino’s family, which helps them to feel like they are a part of this aspect of my life and not that it just takes me away from time I could be spending with them. Of course, there are still times when they feel that way.

VS: Finding writing time is hard and not making family and friends feel unimportant because of it can be hard as well. How long have you been writing?

K.S: I have been writing on and off, more as a hobby, for about 18 years. It took me about ten years to complete the first book in the Traegonia series, not because I didn’t have anything to write about, but because I was busy with life, children and a new marriage. I have been writing consistently now for about three years.

VS: I think it’s great you have been writing off and on to begin with and are now carving out time really to see your work out there. It’s not easy to break out of the hobby routine so good for you. What inspired you?

K.S: I was inspired to write the Traegonia series by the sculptures created by a former neighbor and current friend, Dino C. Crisanti. About twelve years ago, Dino had done a couple of sculptures, just for the art of it, and my husband had gone next door to help Dino with something. My husband Bob spotted the creatures and thought they were so cool that he wanted to show me. After seeing the sculptures, the three of us stood in the back yard talking about what they could be and my husband suggested I write a story, giving them a world, a life and a name, and that is how I was inspired to take my writing to an actual book.

VS: Now I know you already have mentioned how your family is supportive of your writing, but how do they support you?

K.S: My family is very supportive of my writing, but I also try to include them in the project in some way. My husband helps me at the arts and crafts shows and other events, my 21-year-old daughter helps with marketing ideas, my 9-year-old daughter reads and edits the books before they go to final editing and my 11 year old is going to play the flute in the music on the audio books.

VS: What was the first thing you ever had published?

K.S: The very first piece of my work that was published was a poem that won a contest. Traegonia the Sunbow Prophecy was the first big project that was published.

VS: Now you have two books out right now, which are just wonderful and full of adventure. I would love if you could share with us a little about your current books?

K.S: Traegonia the Sunbow Prophecy and Traegonia the Ember Rune are the first two books in the Traegonia series. They are about forest dwelling creatures that live in a world within our own. They are called Traegons and are only about 16 inches tall and resemble a cross between a troll and a wingless dragon. The creatures/characters are a bit frightful looking, but are actually wise, kind and civilized. The series shares the friendship of a human boy, two young Traegons, the reason they are meant to come together, and all that they are able to accomplish, because they believe, learn to believe in themselves and each other. Each book takes the three main characters to locations in our world but as we all come to find out, Traegons are everywhere. I weave positive messages throughout the individual books as well as a common theme throughout the series; looking beyond outward appearances, friendship, conservation, and above all believing in you. So when we ask the reader, “Do you Believe?” it is much more than just believing in Traegons.

VS: What do you enjoy most about writing?

K.S: I enjoy slipping out of my everyday world into my thoughts. I love to create and as I begin to write, my mind goes deeper and I begin to see the whole story unfold like a movie in my mind. It relaxes me and moves me.

VS: What is the most difficult part of writing?

K.S: For me the most difficult part of writing is just finding the time to write.

VS: Now that you are writing more for publication than a hobby, do you find it hard to balance your personal writing time with your other jobs?

K.S: I definitely find balancing writing and running the business for the book, the job that brings in the money, three daughters,  a husband, a mother, that lives with us, a dog, a cat, a bird, a rabbit, laundry, cooking, house cleaning, and some semblance of social life a very difficult task. I am not sure how I manage but I do. Sometimes it feels okay and other times I feel, guilty and frustrated, but I know that my children will know the importance of following your dreams and believing you can do what you are willing to work hard for. I Love them all and that I know they know.

VS: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

K.S: I have two other books in progress that are unrelated to the Traegonia series. One is a paranormal mystery about a young couple and a 250-year-old tree. I can’t go into detail because I really don’t know when I will get back to it. The other is a steampunk novel. Both of these are YA novels. But for now I am focusing on the third Traegonia book.

VS: What tips can you give writing parents with children at home to help them see publication?

K.S: Don’t give up on your own dreams. There is a time for everything and everything comes in its own due time. Children will learn wonderful things from a parent who believes in themselves. They will see your desire to do what you do for the benefit of you and the legacy you can leave to and for them. Just make sure you share with them and include them in some way.

VS: Is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama”?

K.S: Raising children with an awareness that following your dreams is not only important but that it feeds the soul, will show them that they, their thoughts and their dreams are important and worthy of time and effort.

You can visit Kim’s website at www.WorldOfTraegonia.com and her blog at http://worldoftraegonia.wordpress.com/

Also, join K.S. Krueger, author of the middle grade fantasy novel, Traegonia: The Sunbow Prophecy (Outskirts Press, August 2011 ), as she virtually tours the blogosphere from December 5 - 16, 2011 on her first virtual book tour!