Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Preparing Manuscripts for Submission

I do freelance editing from time to time. Writers can hire me through my personal website (http://vsgrenier.com) or through the companies I have signed on as a freelance editor, such as Halo Publishing Int. The thing I find most interesting about editing a manuscript is how much of it could have been done before it reached me. I do not understand why a writer would not take the time to really prepare their manuscript for publication.

If you think about it, editors read dozens of manuscripts every day, week, and month. Many of them read them at home since their offices are filled with manuscripts waiting to be proofed, edited, checking layouts, and so much more. Because of this, most editors form a quick impression based on how a manuscript is sent, written on the first couple of pages, and by its cover letter. Now, you do not need to run and hide or think, “Maybe I should just throw in the towel. There’s no way I can compete against all those professional writers.” If you feel you have written your best manuscript, revised it and proofread it until your eyes bled, then keep reading. I am here to help you on your road to publication with a few tips to get your manuscript totally prepared for submission.

The first thing you should be doing is taking writing courses. Be it at a writing conference, local college, or from an online workshop. Even reading books about writing will help you improve your craft and talent. I have loads of writing books on my desk. I refer to them all the time when I am having trouble with a manuscript I am working on. I find even though I know the guidelines to writing for children, re-reading about a certain topic helps me pin point what is wrong within my work in progress.

The next important thing you all should be doing is join a critique group (in-person or online) to get your manuscript in shape for submission. Yes, you can ask your spouse, partner, family members, friend(s), neighborhood children, etc. to read your manuscript, but they will not have the eyes a trained writer or group of writers will. Also, the number one thing to get an editor rejection is to say your family, friend, or kids liked your plot line, characters, action, even scenes. Editors look for things like weedy words, smooth transitions, and a great beginning hook. I am going to guess your family, friends, spouse, partner, or children do not have a clue these things matter to a publisher. And if they do, I am betting they will not be able to tell you exactly what it is, so you won’t be able to fix it. That is why a critique group is so important.

Another important thing you should do is hire a freelance editor. I know, it costs money, but the information you gain from a freelance editor who spends their day reading manuscripts on your genre of writing is invaluable. Heck, I even send my own manuscripts to freelance editors for a critique or proofreading. The reason is that I know I am too close to my own writing to really be tough on what needs fixing and what is working. A freelance editor will bring fresh eyes to your manuscript and help you make it the best it can be before submission.

Freelance editors look for things beyond what most critique partners or groups look for. They will look for things like weak modifiers (also known as weedy words), overly used words, superfluous beginnings, hedging words, transitions between scenes and chapters, character development and plot, fonts, point of view changes, tense switching, setting, situations, your hook, ending, climax, sluggish middles, detail and dialogue. This only names a few things they look for, or should be looking at. A few other things I look for as a freelance editor are spacing, margins, and hard returns. Why to I look at these things? Because if your manuscript is picked up by an editor at a publishing it house, if these things are not formatted in the correct way it will make typesetting more difficult. Yes, editors look for this on all submissions.

This means do not try to make your manuscript look like a final printed page. When you make the right-hand margin line up flush right, the way the left-hand margin lines up flush left, this is when a word-processing program takes a line of text and justifies it both right and left, it adds annoying spaces between letters and words in every line of type.

Believe it or not, some publishers use scanners with optical character-recognition software to read manuscripts and translate them into computer text. So now you can see how using the justify margins feature on your word processor could really make things a big mess and a bunch of gibberish in the end.

Lastly, writers need to format their manuscript for submission. I see so many manuscripts not properly formatted and will either explain or for an extra fee do the work for the writer. It is import to have a properly formatted manuscript when submitting. Not only with margins, but using the right types of fronts (Times Roman, Courier, or Arial are preferred) and headings. Knowing where to place your title, your personal info, and page numbers is key.

I cannot tell you how many times I have received a manuscript with no header, only a title. That’s great, but what happens if I mix the pages up while proofing and editing? Every page should have a header. The first page of your manuscript should have in the upper left-hand corner, single-spaced, your name, address, email address, phone number, and tax id number. All following pages should have in the upper left-hand corner, your last name and title of the manuscript. Over in the right-hand corner should be the page number.

Knowing where to position your title is also important. Your title should be center, all in caps, and placed 5 inches down from the top of the page. Your name or pen name should be right below it. Then double space twice and begin your text. I may seem a waste of space to you as the writer, but editor use this space for notes—for themselves or the typesetter. If you place your title too high and do not leave this working space, it frustrates the editor and marks you as an amateur.

This may seem a lot to do and keep in mind, but in the end you will be happy you did. If you want an editor to say “yes” to your manuscript, make it easy on the editor by following their guidelines and applying these important keys to preparing your manuscript for submissions.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Writing Prompt Monday: Are You an Object?

For this prompt, you’ll come up with a poem about an object that describes you. First, choose an object. Next, list down the reasons you think the object you chose represents you.

From your list of reasons, which one is the most powerful?

Which one conveys the strongest image of you?

Once you’ve chosen your main image, list down things that support this main image. Build your poem from there.

This prompt comes from http://creativewritingprompts.com

Get Up & Get Moving: Week 8

This is the week I don’t weigh myself. However, I am sure I have lost some weight after all the running around I did this past week. My kids are about ready to kill me. I made them completely clean out their rooms. Boy did their rooms need it. If a book wasn’t already written called the messy closet, I would have written it this weekend. My son’s room had wrappers from last Halloween hiding out. I even found some weird green slim. He, of course, did not know what it was or where it came from. I am thinking maybe aliens took him and that is why when I starting talking to him . . . he’s eyes glaze over and not one word enters his brain.

My five year old on the other hand thinks under her bed is a great place to shove everything mommy wants to throw away. I guess she is still too young to part with her stuff. Even if half of it is broken or doesn’t ever get played with. She kept telling me, “The toys will be sad. Didn’t you watch Toy Story, Mommy?” I tired really hard not to laugh at that comment. Of course, I’ve seen Toy Story. In fact, I have seen them all. But I didn’t have the heart to explain to my five year old that the toys don’t come to life when she sleeps or isn’t in her room. She is a little girl and needs her imagination.

So with that last thought here is the health tip for this week:

Even Busy Mums Can Exercise at


July 19, 2010 Weight 188

Goal weight by December 31, 2010 130

I have been using a log to track my activity level and food intake each day. The site is totally FREE! Come join me on FitDay.com.

Having a log can help you stay on track and really lets you see where you need to make improvements or adjustments to help shed those unwanted pounds.

A Good Story Is A Good Story with guest Dean Kaner

On Monday, July 26th join host Marsha Cook and her co - hosts April Robin, Freda Roberts and VS Grenier. This week’s show is going to be filled with exciting segments that you won't want to miss. The special guest host for this week is Dean Kaner, a writer, manager and script doctor. He’s quite funny and extremely witty. His management skills have taken many writers right to the top. Dean is also going to share his early childhood experiences with some humorous stories about his Stan Laurel Scrap book and how over the years his management company became a reality. He is one of three authors of a wonderful produced play,” The Boys Of Winter”. The production took place in Boston. Dean is now using his excellent writing skills as a Script Doctor, to help new writers establish themselves as credible scriptwriters. The lively conversations and discussions that listeners can partake in every week are April’s Pick and Virginia’s Perspective. April’s pick is a call in discussion about a special TV show. Virginia’s Perspective is about the pros and cons of writing, and especially what not to do. Please join in the fun and relieve the stress of the day. The call in number is 646-595-4478. You can click the Blog Talk Radio button on this blog to listen in.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Interview Friday with Fairy Author, Bobbie Hinman

Bobbie Hinman grew up in Baltimore and has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She is the author and co-author of seven successful cookbooks. Several years ago, Bobbie decided to re-invent her literary career. With her experience as an elementary teacher, along with the joys of reading to her ten grandchildren, Bobbie has turned her attention to the world of children’s literature.

Bobbie’s books have received numerous awards. She is currently in demand as a presenter at schools, libraries and book festivals.

VS: Bobbie, I want to thank you for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today. I know being a parent and writer can be hard. Now, you started writing back in the 80’s when your children were teenagers. Can you share with us how the writing industry has changed over the years?

Bobbie: In the 80’s, when I started writing, the only way to have a book published was to be accepted by one of the major publishing companies. Today there are many small, independent publishers to work with, so the chances of having a book published are much greater. There are also expanding possibilities for authors to enter into the world of self-publishing and produce their own books. One of the other major changes in the writing industry is in the area of promotion. It’s hard to believe that in the 80’s there was no internet. Today we can advertise our book to the entire world with just the click of a button.

VS: You are so right Bobbie. The internet has really helped open doors for authors and marketing their work. Now, I have a teenage son who just started fencing. I find it hard sometimes to fit everything into my day between running him to class, my personal writing, my writing jobs, and now doing a blog talk radio show. What did you do to help bring balance in your writing and family life?

Bobbie: It wasn’t always easy to juggle the needs of my family with my desire to write. I waited until they were teenagers before I started to take my writing seriously. When they were younger, I had to carefully schedule my writing time and then be flexible enough to realize that the needs of younger kids can’t always adhere to a schedule. I’ve always told them how lucky they were that I started by writing cookbooks. Most of my work took place in the kitchen, so I never got away with the excuse that I was too busy to cook.

VS: LOL. I’m sure my kids would love me to write cookbooks vs. children’s books. I’m very grateful my hubby cooks most of the time. Now Bobbie, you mentioned that you wrote seven cookbooks and your kids were your very serious, very critical recipe testers. Did you find including your kids in your writing helped them understand what you did as a writer?

Bobbie: From the beginning, I included my kids in the process. They became my first line of recipe testers and even earned a salary (albeit small) for their work. I actually had them prepare many of the recipes themselves so I could be sure of the ease of preparation. They were also a big help with the typing (Remember, no computers). Not only did this help them understand what I did as a writer; it made them appreciate how hard one has to work to reach a goal.

VS: I’m not sure I would trust my five year old with typing up my manuscript, but I know she loves helping me with my craft submissions. I do find when I do these types of submissions my kids are more understanding about my work. I think it is wonderful you did the same thing Bobbie with the cookbooks. With that in mind, would you consider yourself to be a born writer?

Bobbie: I was a born “wanna-be” writer. As a child, I was always writing stories and poems. I loved Dr. Seuss and perhaps it was his influence that inspired me to write my stories in rhyme. In college, I took a number of children’s literature courses. I always knew I would eventually be a writer.

VS: Wow, that is so great you had an idea what you wanted to be. You even went from writing cookbooks to writing children’s books. I’m sure those courses have paid off. Now would you say your ten grandchildren are the source of your inspiration for these books?

Bobbie: Oh yes, definitely! In fact, the idea for my first children’s book came to me while I was combing my granddaughter’s hair. I was trying to get through the knots and tangles, and the result was a lot of whining and tears on her part. So, I created a story to keep her from crying. Alas, The Knot Fairy was born.

VS: That is amazing. I would never have thought of a book just from combing my daughter’s long hair. I was wondering Bobbie if you could please share with us a little about each of your books. You had mentioned the premise of all your children’s books is, “Who better to blame it on than a fairy?” What a unique idea. I always tried to blame my invisible friend. Maybe I should have tired blaming a fairy. J

Bobbie: The Knot Fairy is a mischievous little fairy dressed in pajamas and fuzzy slippers. She visits children while they sleep and is responsible for the knots and tangles in their hair when they awaken.

The Sock Fairy is a playful little boy fairy responsible for lost socks, mismatched socks and the occasional hole in the toe. (And you thought the dryer was the culprit!)

The Belly Button Fairy is a grandmotherly fairy who flies through the sky in her rocking chair. She visits babies in the hospital and gives each one a belly button, making sure it is exactly in the middle.

The Fart Fairy is a playful little boy fairy who travels with his pet skunk. He is responsible for the often-embarrassing sounds and odors that are a part of everyday life.

The premise of all of my books is, "Who better to blame it on than a fairy?"

VS: Bobbie, all your books sounds so fun and imaginative. I know they are my list to buy. Now all your books come with a CD as well. Can you share with us the idea behind the cd’s that accompany your books? I know your grandchildren are the accompanying chorus. What is it like working so closing with family on your projects?

Bobbie: I believe that children benefit from multi-sensory learning experiences. My CDs feature the story narrations, with a bell that rings when it is time to turn the page. (I am the narrator.) When early readers are able to follow along with the CD, they are very quickly able to read the books on their own. There is also a funny fairy song on each CD, sung by professional vocalists, with my grandchildren as the chorus.

Making the kids an integral part of the process has further solidified my bond with the kids. They are such an integral part of the process. As we were leaving the sound studio after recording the first CD, my 6-year old granddaughter looked up at me and asked, “Mommom, am I famous now?”

VS: Children are so cute. I hope you told her, “Yes.” Now Bobbie, your books have received 19 awards. What type of book promotions do you feel work best for you? Any special strategies you would like to share?

Bobbie: In order to spread the word about my books, I do many different types of promotions. I do presentations at schools, libraries and bookstores. I have also been a featured presenter at a number of large book festivals in different parts of the country. I have an interactive website and also take advantage of the amazing new world of Social Networking. My favorite venues are the ones that allow me to be in direct contact with people. I love the interaction, especially with the kids.

VS: That’s wonderful. I know a lot of authors don’t like to be the center of attention. I believe you have found the right platform/marketing strategy for you and your books. What do you enjoy most about writing?

Bobbie: The smiles on the little faces when children read my books.

VS: I agree. There is nothing like a child’s smile to make your world just a little bit better. They just have a way of lighting up everything around them. What would you say is the most difficult part of writing?

Bobbie: It’s always hard for me to know when to stop. I’m a bit of a perfectionist with my writing. I revise and revise and revise. Usually it’s my husband who finally steps in and says, “Enough already!”

VS: I use to be the same way. I finally learned to just throw it all up on my computer screen and then to let it sit before doing any revisions. Now your newest book, The Fart Fairy was just released; can you share a little about this new book for children?

Bobbie: Most children are fascinated with bodily functions. It’s often an embarrassment to mothers; however, kids are proud of the noises they can produce. Kids love the fact that the books about farts and poops seem to give them permission to use the forbidden words for at least a few minutes. Also, parents of reluctant readers have actually found that children are encouraged to read when they encounter books of gross-out humor. I would love to take all of the credit for this book; however, it was totally my husband’s idea.

VS: I hope you gave him credit in your dedication. My hubby is also very helpful with new ideas or even story plots. Now that your book is due to come out, do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

Bobbie: We do have a few other works in progress, including one about a small but might “Super Fairy” and a friendly monster who is blamed for missing items. We are also working on a coloring book, converting our books to eBooks, and translating our books into Spanish.

VS: Sounds like you have some great things coming our way. Is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama”?

Bobbie: I am so thankful for my supportive family and I hope my adventures in the literary world have taught them to work hard, keep their goal in sight and never give up.

VS: I’m sure it has Bobbie and thank you for taking the time to share with my readers and me about being a writing mama. You’re a very talented and unique author. It has been a real pleasure.

For more information about Bobbie, and to view video trailers of her books, please visit: www.bestfairybooks.com

ISBN numbers for Bobbie Hinman’s books:

The Knot Fairy - 9780978679101

The Sock Fairy - 9780978679118

The Belly Button Fairy - 9780978679132

The Fart Fairy – 9780978679149

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Article Wednesday: Learn to Write Articles That Maintain the Readers Interest

If you want to learn to write articles that maintain the interest of your readers, you want to avoid wandering from the intended topic too often. Your article writing efforts should always focus on the subject or point you're trying to make to the reader. By deviating from the main topic, you risk confusing and losing the reader while also making the writing process more difficult. Let's face it writing articles can be challenging enough as it. By adding content that is meaningless to the reader, you are also creating more work for yourself. Effective writing skills should include trying to make your point using as few words as possible while keeping the reader's interest. Let's look at 5 major advantages you gain when writing articles that are concise and don't stray from the intended point. Increases Authors' Focus By sticking to the subject or theme of the article the writer can maintain better focus and complete the composition quicker. Allowing yourself to ramble needlessly requires more time and effort to be invested into the article writing process. Keep Reader Attention The reader selected your article based upon a given point you made to attract them to the content either thru a snippet or headline. The more you deviate from that point the less interest the reader will maintain. Prevents Long Rambling Articles Concentrating on the central theme of the article helps prevent the author from going off on tangents of no interest to the reader. This focus thus allows the article subject matter to be presented in a more concise fashion. Another benefit of a more concentrated focus when writing is there is less likelihood of important points or issues being forgotten and left out altogether. Easier to Read, Easier to Complete An article that sticks to the point is generally easier to read due to the content being consistent and therefore more flowing. With fewer distractions or diversions, the readers' interest is held and the content is easier to understand. Withheld Content = New Article You know all those diversions and tangents you didn't take but wanted to when you were writing that last article? You can now use them to base a brand new and totally separate article on. More content means more articles which in turn translates into a greater circulation and increased exposure for you. As you see when you learn to write articles using as few words as possible you automatically make your own article writing efforts easier. By focusing primarily on your intended subject, you shorten the entire writing process by excluding any additional and useless content. Effective writing skills like this not only benefit the reader with more concise and interesting content but also save the writer extra time and effort. So remember the next time you sit down to write an article just focus on making your point. Your readers will be happier as will you with the time and effort you save.

About The Author

TJ Philpott is an author and Internet entrepreneur based out of North Carolina. For additional online success tips and a free guide that demonstrates how to find both profitable markets and products visit: http://affiliatequickstart.com

Help! I Can’t Break the Doors Down

I’m back from my four day weekend. I really cannot say it was much of a vacation. I spent most my time dealing with my teething baby or painting my kitchen. Of course, my hubby did most the work in our kitchen since our teething baby never slept unless mommy was holding her.

Our son was luckily enough to escape the craziness of our house over the weekend. He went camping with a bunch of friends at Lake Powell. From what my son tells me . . . they were blasted by a sand monster in the middle of the day and late into the night. However, the boys faired well against the creepy crawlers of the night, the blood sucking flyers, and water creatures. The five year old was not so lucky. She spent most of her time in the back office with her four legged furry brother and sister . . . Taz and Speedbump.

So after the weekend ended, I thought it was time to start promoting my book. I have been pounding on doors left and right, but not one door has opened. I’ve contacted my local school district to update them on my new school visit programs. I sent out media kits on Babysitting SugarPaw to most of our locally owned bookstores. I have even looked into booth spaces for upcoming events, but no one seems interested in having an author share the love of reading and writing. What’s up with that?

I have concluded I must be doing something wrong. I do live in a small town compared to my old home back in Los Angeles. But one would think a small town would be more open when a local is looking to promote and join in community events. However, it does not seem to be that way where I live. I had more success back in Los Angeles with my marketing than I do here in Southern Utah. It seems you need to know someone who knows someone who knows someone who can help you out.

The thing is . . . I need to get moving on marketing my picture book, Babysitting SugarPaw. I want to meet with children, share my love of writing and the World of Ink. I want to get kids excited about reading. I want to help parents who have small children afraid of babysitters. There is so much I want to do, but just can’t seem to get going.

It’s funny how as writers we spend so much time worrying about getting our books published that when it is time to market them we are so unprepared for failure. I have been successful with social marketing and online marketing, but in person marketing seems to be my locked door. I am not going to give up. If it comes down to it . . . I will get out the ax and chop the dang door down!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Come Talk about Self Publishing on A Good Story Is A Good Story

Today, on A Good Story is a Good Story, at 8pm central please join host Marsha Cook and her co-hosts April Robin & Freda Roberts, along with their wonderful assistant Virginia Grenier. They will have a candid discussion with independent publishers who publish good books! With so many authors publishing their books with independent publishers, it’s time to recognize these books as first rate books. Not every traditionally published book is a winner and that is the same in the Independent market. On the show this week, is Neal Wooten, owner and managing editor of Mirror Publishing. He will be discussing his theories on Independent publishing, and why the concept of books on demand and Independent publishers are on their way to the top. The Independent publishing world is changing rapidly and certainly becoming a powerful source. Robin Surface from Fideli Publishing will also be there to discuss her views on the changing market. Both Publishers are very successful and easy to work with, which are two very important reasons to choose a publisher. Independent publishing is here to stay. The show will be fun and exciting in a new and different way. Please join in and listen to interesting topics about writing and entertainment. You will be glad you did. You can call in to the show at 646-595-4478 or send a question in at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rrradio/2010/07/20/a-good-story-is-agood-story--red-river-radio

Writing Prompt Monday: How Do You Feel?

Describe what you feel right now using your sense of smell. If you feel frustrated, write about what your frustration smells like. Use vivid words. Don’t skimp on adjectives. This comes from http://www.creativewritingprompts.com

Get Up & Get Moving: Week 7

It was great taking some time off from writing and life. I’ll share more in tomorrow’s post. I am happy to say I did not pack on the pounds relaxing. I actually have lost some more weight. Hooray! Let’s hope this new trend sticks.

Health Tip:

I am lucky because my family doesn’t tend to have high cholesterol. Which I do find odd, since most of my family is over weight. However, I have many friends who do have to worry about their cholesterol levels. Let’s face it . . . as we get older we just can’t eat the same things we did in our 20’s. So here is a great article for those of you who worry about your cholesterol.

Top 7 Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol Without Prescription Medications

Today’s Weight 188

Weight on July 5, 2010 190

Goal weight by December 31, 2010 130

I have been using a log to track my activity level and food intake each day. The site is totally FREE! Come join me on FitDay.com.

Having a log can help you stay on track and really lets you see where you need to make improvements or adjustments to help shed those unwanted pounds.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Taking A Break

This past week has been one of those weeks that just isn't getting any better. So before I completely go off the deep end according to my hubby . . . I'm taking a four day weekend starting today. I guess between the teething baby, who has gone back to not sleeping, the teenage son not doing a think I've asked him too (Like it would be any other way), and our five year old daughter running out the front door or letting our dog out every chance she gets is taking its toll. My creative juices are completely running and hiding from me. I really don't blame them or my children from wanting a break from the vein pulsing mom. So I'm going to enjoy some of the 100 plus degree weather here in Southern Utah. Take some time to sleep in while hubby is on vacation, and maybe just relax a bit. Okay, maybe a lot. I love what I do, but I think it is important to remember to take a time out from time to time when life gets a bit crazy. Or as I have been saying lately, "Insane". I won't be hosting any writing mama's this Friday, but next week I have a special guest to share with you. So make sure to stop by next Monday for some inspiration and to see if my hubby has sent me to the nut house yet. I'm sure a lot of this is the lack of sleep because of Sabrina teething. At least things can only get better from here on out . . . Right?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Article Wednesday: Why Writing Articles in the Morning is Best

If writing articles is something you do often you can appreciate the need for having to maintain your focus. The usual writing process includes the proper research beforehand to insure the content is useful to the reader. The harder part is to sit down and put it all together in a format that is both interesting and easy to follow; this is the real test of your writing skills. Even harder yet is trying to complete your article writing in a reasonable amount of time. Even the tiniest distractions can derail your train of thought and literally double the amount of time it takes to complete your article. Learning how to write an article in a minimal amount of time is more a result of following a structured and disciplined system and less about your unique writing skills. Today we're going to discuss some writing tips that should help you get more out of the time it takes you to write an article. The early morning hours seem to be the most productive time for article writing and here are 3 reasons why: The Uncluttered Mind Upon awakening from a 'fitful' nights rest your mind is a 'clean slate' that hasn't been assaulted with the distractions of the day yet! Ever notice that as the day progresses your mind becomes more occupied with the events that occur as they unravel? This preoccupation is a major distraction that affects your focus, mood, and even memory. A well rested mind free of distractions is your biggest asset when you write an article and the early morning hours are usually when you will be experiencing this state of mind. It also helps that early mornings are usually the most tranquil time of the day. High Energy Level There's no doubt that your energy levels are at their highest in the morning. Even though some people need time to fully awaken, both the mind and body are operating on a full nights rest. Learning how to write an article in the shortest amount of time comes with recognizing the need for a high level of energy enabling you to work both rapidly and efficiently. Creative Thinking The state of sleep or rest allows the mind to 'unwind' enabling it to almost effortlessly wander in a creative or problem solving type of way. Readily identifiable pressures we experience in our waking hours slip away during sleep giving way to the infinitely creative nature of the mind. The efficiencies you experience when writing shortly upon awakening allows you to be more productive and creative while also minimizing the time you invest to complete the article. Writing articles takes creativity and focus and if these two attributes are not able to work together the entire writing process can take much longer. The 3 writing tips we discussed above should help to better coordinate your efforts when you actually sit down to write an article. In the end this should make you less frustrated and more productive.

About The Author

TJ Philpott is an author and Internet entrepreneur based out of North Carolina. For additional money making tips and a free guide that demonstrates how to find both profitable markets and products visit: http://blogbrawn.com

Monday, July 12, 2010


RR Tracks - A GOOD STORY IS A GOOD STORY Monday July 12th at 8 pm Central, join host Marsha Cook and her two co-Hosts April Robins, and Freda Roberts. They will welcome a new assistant for the show, Virginia S. Grenier. Craig Clyde will join the show. He’s a screenwriter, novelist and Movie Director. He has directed over eighteen films and he will be discussing his new film ROOTBEER CHRISTMAS. The chat lines will be open and they welcome callers.

Writing Prompt Monday: 40 Things

Make a list of 40 things that have happened to you this month. They can be funny, embarrassing, happy, or infuriating. Then pick one from your list and write about it. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This is a great writing prompt. It not only gives you a bunch of writing ideas, but also helps with stress. All my writing prompts come from http://www.creativewritingprompts.com/#

Get Up & Get Moving: Week 6

I am still maintaining instead of really losing. I have cut back my calorie intake, I am exercising . . . but I am not dropping the weight like I should be. What could be wrong?

Normally I share a health tip for an outside source, but this week I am going to share my own health tip. Does the above sound like you? It sure has been me for the past couple of weeks I have been doing Get Up & Get Moving. I even took a break from my food log to see if I was eating more to get my total allowed calories in for the day. Thinking maybe this had something to do with my go-no-where weight lose.

I did find this had something to do with it. I also noticed a few other things. And once I cut those things out of my diet . . . I started to lose again.

  1. Don’t drink soda. I know how hard this can be, but the problem with soda besides the empty calories you are pumping into your body is the sodium. Sodium causes women especially to retain water. By cutting out soda, you will not retain as much water and will start dropping weight.
  2. Don’t each milk chocolate. I do not eat much chocolate to begin with, but even one mild chocolate candy bar or ice cream cone can really make a difference in your weight lose each week. If you need to satisfy a chocolate craving, have 1 to 2 oz of dark chocolate. This is hit your sweet tooth harder and because of the richness of dark chocolate . . . you shouldn’t crave it as much.
  3. Make sure to drink at least 20 oz of water daily. This is hard for me only because I am on the go all the time. What I did was buy a 20 oz water bottle. I fill half of it with ice and the rest is water, and carry it everywhere with me. It’s handy and I get my 20 plus ounces of water. If you’re not a water drinker, get some Crystal Light or put a slice of lime/lemon in your glass/bottle. This adds some flavor.

These are my simple tips to help you stop maintaining and start losing.

Weight on July 5, 2010 190

Goal weight by December 31, 2010 130

I have been using a log to track my activity level and food intake each day. The site is totally FREE! Come join me on FitDay.com.

Having a log can help you stay on track and really lets you see where you need to make improvements or adjustments to help shed those unwanted pounds.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Interview Friday with Kari Wolfe

Kari Wolfe is a writer and a blogger at Imperfect Clarity (http://www.imperfectclarity.net/). She lives in Colorado Springs, CO, with her daughter, husband, two cats and the few plants she's managed to keep alive as of yet. She has a Bachelor's degree from Marshall University in Huntington, WV, in Physics and Mathematics, but decided after attempting a Master's degree in Physics that she likes playing with her own rules of nature better than she likes trying to learn and memorize the actual rules themselves. She also tinkers around with photography and has a small portfolio at Imperfect Clarity Photography: http://www.imperfectclarity.net/photos/-

VS: Kari, it is such a pleasure to have you as my guest on The Writing Mama today. Now I know a little bit about you because we are friends on Facebook. However, I am hoping to get to know you better today along with my readers. So to start, can you share a little about your family? How many children you have? Do you have any furry kids, too? Kari: I'm married to the most wonderful man in the world--but then again, aren't we all? :) We have one daughter, Natasha Lynn, and two black cats--Jacq & Tifa. Sometimes it feels very much that we have three kids running around the house, Natasha trying to catch Jacq's tail and Jacq chasing after Tifa! Tifa's my teenager kitty--she's moody and whiny and loves to be petted, but only on her terms. Jacq has only one eye and a slightly misshapen snout from birth defects, we think, and she has feline idiopathic epilepsy, which means she has seizures, and the doctor has no idea why. Last fall, Natasha was diagnosed as autistic. She's almost four (September 13) and has only just now started to speak which we're extremely grateful for. VS: Wow, it sounds like you really have your hands full. I understand the hardships of raising a child with developmental delays. My daughter Ashley, age five, has trouble with speech. It can be frustrating at times, but hang in there Kari you are not alone.

Now, you mentioned once on Facebook that you are still looking for your writing niche. I know I am still trying to find my perfect niche in children’s writing. What would you say your writing style is? Kari: You know ... I don't know exactly how I would classify my writing. I have all sorts of influences though--I try to read many different authors. Stephen King used to be one of my favorites as a child, but the older I get, the older he gets and his writing has changed over the years. And, so have I. I love H.P. Lovecraft's description and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Ultimately, what I want to do is to seamlessly blend the sharper details of literary style with the speed and suspense of popular fiction. VS: I was Stephen King fan all through high school and college. I still love his early books, but I don’t read too many of his latest works. I also love Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Such a classic.

Okay my next question for you is . . . as a mom, I find it hard some days to balance my writing life and my family life. What would you say is a typical writing day for you? Kari: Sometimes it feels like I have no truly "typical days" :) At breakfast, my daughter watches "Sesame Street" while I check my email and do a few things on the computer. I've learned, if I exercise when I get up (or at least, some point in the morning), I can get a great deal more done besides sitting in front of my computer. So I try to exercise as well and fortunately, Natasha loves to watch--we have a Wii Fit and she loves to watch the cartoon figures on the TV screen. My writing is mostly done in the afternoons when she takes a nap--fortunately, nap times are firmly established and she'll sleep for an hour and a half to two hours max. Even if she doesn't nap, I'm still all about having some "Mommy-time" in the middle of the day so she will play in her room for a while. On Thursday mornings, we go to hippotherapy for an hour. The idea behind this is, because she's autistic, she has some sensory issues. Well, we have learned the more sensory input she receives, the better she thinks and can figure things out. By riding horseback, she's able to get the sensory input she needs at the same time as she received speech therapy from a trained speech and hippotherapist. I also have some time to write after she goes to bed at night. IF I'm not too tired and ready to go to sleep myself. I try to spend about an hour before bedtime reading a novel. VS: Your day sounds very busy compared to mine. I guess I shouldn’t complain to my hubby and kids anymore. LOL. Now, I know you like to write sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, but would you consider yourself a born writer? Kari: I think people are born to communicate with others. It's a driving need in most people's lives--it's just a question of how they want to communicate. I've always written. I've done my fair share of having a diary when I was young and journal writing, as I got older. Fiction is a completely different animal though because you create your own characters, your own settings, your own plots. And sometimes, it can be quite overwhelming, if you stop and try to think about everything that you have to do all at once. But I can't imagine doing anything else. I've put my own dreams on the back burner for far too long and now I'm going to go after them with all the gusto I can muster! :) VS: Kari, that’s wonderful. As moms, we really need to follow our dreams. I think this is important not only for us, but for our children. After all, . . . we are their examples in life.

My next question for you, Kari is … is there any genre you would like to try writing, but just haven’t found the right idea for yet? Kari: Probably historical fiction. As I've mentioned before, I love Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series and I love the Victorian England era. I would love to write a historical horror story. Or an alternate historical fiction. I like the idea of exploring what could have happened. I love the whole infinite number of possibilities idea. (Thanks for asking this... I may have to look into this idea!!) VS: My hubby has a series called Alternate History, which explores exactly what you mentioned. However, it is written more for the history buff and not someone who just love reading. But I bet you could give this topic some added life since it hasn’t been greatly explored by many.

Now I’m curious, what does your family think of your writing? Kari: At this point, I don't think they do. My husband is beginning to understand how much it means to me, partly because he's learning to play guitar and understands the whole need to practice thing. He wants me to be happy and, if this is what does it, then so be it, you know? VS: That’s great. I know my hubby for the longest time called my writing a hobby. He finally stopped when I had my first book published and started making some money doing what I do.

Okay Kari, you seem to be a very outgoing person and a great mom. You even have a blog all about your daughter. What things do you try to do to help encourage her to read? Kari: Natasha is fascinated with letters at the moment--in a way, I think this was the "big breakthrough" that we needed in communication with her. It gave us an activity that we could all do together and until then, we had been struggling with her wanting to be in "her own little world." So we've been working on the alphabet since last Thanksgiving. She started to say them aloud and then her preschool helped in teaching her the sounds of the letters. She knows them in ASL (American Sign Language) too so that has given her a model to help us as well. Every night, I read to her and we've been working on trying to sound out some of the words. Simple ones--"moo," "buzz," "dibble" and sorts from the Dr. Seuss book, "Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?" It all really depends on her and how much she wants to pay attention that night. The real trick is to not let her autism get me down. My fear is always that I'm unconsciously trying to limit what she does because she's autistic. So, we take it slowly and surely. :) VS: That’s really great. You know, Natasha may really like the Signing Time DVDs. I know they have been a great help to my daughter Ashley in learning to pronounce words while signing them. They might just work for you as well.

Back on the writing front, have you ever suffered from writer’s block? Kari: Yes, I suffer from writer's block all the time. :) The best 'cure' or solution I have found is to join a writing group. I'm involved in a writing group at my local Barnes & Noble and we meet every Thursday. We write three timed prompts and, after each one, we read what we just wrote to each other. No critiquing--except you can say you liked it. But nothing negative. Nothing discouraging. Knowing you're going to have to read whatever you write down is a good motivator to just write. And sometimes, just in getting pen to paper (or fingers on keys, that's the biggest challenge. I think the real solution to writer's block is to sit down and write for a short period of time every day. VS: Both are great ideas. One reason why on Mondays I post a writing prompt to get everyone ready and creative for the week ahead. I was wondering Kari, can you share a little about your blogging? What got you started? Kari: I started blogging a while back because I wanted to be able to share stories and pictures with others. I wanted to be a political blogger but realized that I didn't really have the time or the inclination to blog as much as I would have had to in order to grow my blog. Currently I am running a 100 Theme Challenge where I am writing on one word a day for ten minutes and then posting that writing--unedited--along with an image each day. VS: Very interesting idea and another way to get rid of writer’s block. I’m wondering what do you find is the most difficult part of writing? Kari: A lot of times, it really is just sitting down and doing it. I become overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information that I have to put together, so I'll start writing a scene and then want to plan it out, and to do research, and to get everything perfect. Needless to say, that all contributes to procrastination when I should be simply writing, getting words on paper and THEN worrying about how it'll all make sense in the end. :) VS: Has your daughter inspire any of your books? If so, can you share what part of the storyline, character, etc? Kari: I use a lot of my writing to blow off steam. Because Natasha is autistic, I've gone through several different stages including wanting to escape from it all and to start a new life and the frustration of having a child who isn't "normal." One way I've found of learning to cope with her disability and my emotions surrounding it is to give my main characters those emotions. I have a MC who left her home, her child, her husband, because she couldn't take it anymore--only to realize later that it's not all that bad. VS: Kari, I can understand that. I know when I write a lot of stress seems to disappear. No do you have any books coming out soon? Other works in progress? Can you share a little about them? Kari: I have three books in the works, one of which is in the editing process. The one in the editing stages is called The Book Collector and has the main character I was speaking of earlier who leaves her home because she's under all this pressure that she feels she's not ready for. She checks into a motel and the motel owner offers her a book to read that night. When she reads the books, she suddenly finds herself transported into the world within the book and then has to find her way back out again, in the process, fighting her own demons of memory and expectation. The second one is a sci-fi novel called Infinite Realities. Its focus is a man who has dreams about a long-lost girlfriend, only to find that she's in danger in an alternate reality and he has to figure out a way to travel to the alternate reality and save her. Plotline: An outcast janitor travels to an alternate reality through his dreams to rescue his fiancĂ©e from an interdimensional deity who has kidnapped her in order to save his own reality from being destroyed. The third one is horror and is called The House. I've wanted to work on my own version of a haunted house story. Plotline: Realizing there is more than to life than observation, a voyeur kidnaps a struggling stay-at-home mother and her children only to fight the trapped evil spirit of the house they are hiding in through his possessed partner-in-crime. I am hoping to have The Book Collector finished by the time that the Muse Conference comes around and to pitch it to one of the publishers attending. VS: They all sound wonderful and I hope to see them in print soon. I know the Muse Conference has helped many authors see their work in print. So I wish you much success down the road to publication.

Kari, what tips can you give writing parents with young children at home to help them see publication? Kari: Write and submit. Write and submit. Be patient with your children--and always remember that they're only young for a brief amount of time. Spend as much time with them as you can--and then write at every other chance you get! :) VS: Is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama”? Kari: Being a parent seems like the hardest job in the world sometimes. I guess my real advice is to spend as much time with your children as you can while they're growing up. Right now, Natasha's almost four and I'm already wondering where the time is going. I don't want to suddenly realize one day that she's 13 and realize that I've not spent as much time with her as I could have. VS: Kari, I thank you for taking the time to share with my readers and me about being a writing mama. It has been an eye opener to your daily writing life. I wish you much success.

To learn more about Kari Wolfe visit her blog the Imperfect Clarity at http://www.imperfectclarity.net/

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Good Story Is A Good Story

I am the new assistant on A GOOD STORY IS A GOOD STORY at Blog Talk Radio. I will be working the phone lines, chat room, and popping in with questions throughout the show. Below is a bit more about the show.

Each Monday at 8pm Central, join host Marsha Cook, her two co-Hosts April Robins and Freda Roberts, and show assistant Virginia S. Grenier.

A little about the hosts of the show: Marsha Cook is a screenwriter, novelist and the President of Marcus Bryan & Associates and Michigan Avenue Media.

April Robins is the CEO of Robin Falls, the creator of a wonderfully talented network of writers as well as a children's author.

Freda Roberts is a talented writer and the creator of the Literary Lounge on Facebook.

Virginia S. Grenier is the Founder/Owner of Stories for Children Publishing LLC, a freelance editor, and children’s author.

All four of these women, especially Freda, have learned how to be successful in the social network community. Marsha has been the host since the show began, but she has added April Robins and Freda Roberts has her co-Hosts, along with Virginia S. Grenier as their show assistant.

A GOOD STORY IS A GOOD STORY now has a new time (Monday 8pm Central), which will allow listeners to hear the show live instead of on demand, however, on demand will be available when the show is over. Our guests will be entertainers, novelists, screenwriters, directors, producers, publishers, and publicists. There will be a special male guest co-Host every week.

Join us this Monday July 12, 2010 at 8pm Central and meet Craig Clyde. He’s a screenwriter, novelist, and Movie Director. Craig has directed over eighteen films and he will be discussing his new film ROOTBEER CHRISTMAS.

A GOOD STORY IS A GOOD STORY has a new and exciting addition that will really spice things up … Movie and Television reviews! If you have a television show or a favorite movie, you want to talk about, go into the chat room or make a call. Please feel free to call in at 646-595- 4478. The chat lines will be open and we welcome callers.

It’s time to talk entertainment. Forget the stress and join Marsha, April, Freda and Virginia every Monday night at 8pm Central. You will be glad you did!

A GOOD STORY IS A GOOD STORY is going to be fun, informative and very entertaining.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Article Wednesday: Learn to Write Articles in 5 Simple Steps

No matter what reasons you may have for writing articles if you do this with any consistency at all it is to your benefit to learn to write in the most efficient manner possible. With so many businesses now using the internet article marketing has become very popular as a means to advertise goods and services. The need to produce fresh content, and often, can be very challenging if you write articles to generate traffic. In order to make this type of online advertising work effectively you need approach the writing process in a way that maximizes your efforts while minimizing your time. Although everybody has different preferences, strengths, and schedules to contend with the writing, process will essentially be the same. It's a matter of tailoring what works best for you and your particular situation to get the most out of your article writing. With that in mind view the 5 step process put forth here today as a starting point for you to consider when organizing your article writing efforts. Establish Your Topic The first thing you obviously have to do is to establish the subject upon which you are going to write. I like to do this ahead of time perhaps even the day before. Once you've chosen your topic, go ahead and rough out an outline of the main points you want to address. Maybe you have some direction in which you may want to take your points, if so make notes, brainstorm if you will and then move on to the next step. Article Research Now that you've established your topic and a rough outline you have now given your article research some direction. Again, like establishing the topic, I like to pull together my research before I sit down to write articles. The advantage to doing these 2 steps before hand is that it gives me a chance think about the content and how I want to present it. When I do actually sit down to write I find my mind more focused on the material and usually bristling with ideas. The longer I think about the content before I actually begin to compose it the more ideas I have and the easier it is to write. Get an Early Start After a good nights rest; I prefer to make my article writing the first task of the day. My mind is fresher, more focused, and it is usually more peaceful in the morning resulting in less distractions. Speaking of Focus As stated previously I prefer the early morning to begin my writing for the quiet and focus morning hours bring. One thing I do not do is get sidetracked by phone calls, web surfing, or checking emails. These are things that can all wait until later in the day. Take advantage of your focus, energy level, and the quiet to be the most productive. Begin with Opening and Closing Paragraphs This may sound strange at first to actually write your closing paragraph before the body of your article but here's why. More 'creativity' will go into the opening and closing paragraphs of your article so tap into your fresh mind to get these done FIRST. Often the opening paragraph is the most challenging aspect of any article. You already know what you want to write about so just create a brief intro and then a concluding paragraph first. Doing it, this way will make your writing seem a heck of a lot easier. With this out of the way you can now simply refer to the research material, you've already accumulated to compose the body of the article itself. Writing articles is a terrific way to gain some free online advertising for your business or other projects or interests. The key is learn to write during a time that you find you're the most productive and least distracted. By doing so, you'll be increasing the efficiency with which you writes article allowing yourself additional time to focus on other areas of your business or life.

About The Author

TJ Philpott is an author and Internet entrepreneur based out of North Carolina. For additional money making tips and a free guide that demonstrates how to find both profitable markets and products visit: http://blogbrawn.com

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Am I Really on Hiatus?

At the beginning of this year, I put Stories for Children Magazine on hiatus so I could focus on my new baby, my other two children, my hubby (of course), SFC Newsletter for Writers and my personal writing. However, I have found that instead of just doing those things, I have added to my To Do list. One of the things I added to my hiatus To Do list is this blog.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love writing and posting weekly and even daily here. I love sharing thoughts with you when you leave comments. I also love doing the weekly interviews and finding out more about other writing mamas (and hopefully writing dads soon). But now I’ve added another item to my list. Every Monday night at 8pm central time, I will be the assistant on a blog talk radio show through Red River Radio starting July 12, 2010. I am really excited about this opportunity. Not only because I will be working with some great authors (April Robins, Marsha Cook, and Freda Roberts), but I will also be learning a new medium.

I will share more about the show in the upcoming days and will post here weekly the shows link so you can listen in, call in, and even post questions in the chat room, which is where I will be working. Each show will have guest and will be kind of like the View on TV. That is about all I can share right now. Tomorrow is my training on how everything will work. The best part is I get to do it all from home. Making life as a writing mama a bit easier, or so one would think.

Actually, my fourteen year old has started taking fencing lessons and guess what . . . they just happen to be on Monday nights. So I’ll be a crazy person running from fencing lessons to my home each Monday night. Luckily, for me, everything is close by and I will be able to get home with some time to spare before I have to log on for the show. My only worry is Sabrina (my five-month-old baby). Normally she takes a catnap about the time the show starts, so let’s hope she doesn’t change her schedule. If she does, I guess her big brother will have to help out. He’s pretty good about holding her while I try and get some writing time in or when I’m wrapping up something I’m working on. The only one I do not need to worry about is my five year old. All I have to do is pop in a movie and she’s good to go.

Having three kids in the house can be a bit taxing at time, but they also make what I do worth it. Until next time, keep writing.