How to…Write a Nonfiction Book in Ten Days (While crossing the writer’s block)

 Guest Blog by M. C. Simon

 

You have a blank page on your desk, a blank screen on your laptop, or whatever blank object you want to have in front of your eyes. You stare at it wondering how you will manage to fill it with words; wise, interesting, amazing words that will teleport the reader into a magical parallel world. While staring, you suddenly have a revelation; a deep one. And this revelation says that You, the Writer, are in the middle of a powerful and stubborn phase called a “writer’s block.”

The panic attack is nearing. The deadline for your book awaits you behind the next corner of time. Your brain starts to fight like a real ninja who is suddenly attacked by an army of mosquitoes. The writer’s block bites you from all directions at the same time. The white page becomes even whiter. It almost shines.

How can you overcome all these sensations?

Listen! I found such a simple method. It is so simple that even my two super-smart cerebral hemispheres wondered how this could be possible. It was a miracle. And I realized that… miracles are, in fact, in our hands. We can handle them if we use our knowledge and we trust in our passion.

Not too long ago, I found myself in front of a shiny blank page while writing my first novel; wanting to give the reader tools to help their own life on this planet, I decided that my first novel will be a combination of Fiction, Romance, and Spiritual. It has roots in old manuscripts written by humans who have reached high spiritual levels, and though it I wrap the information into a romantic adventurous garment—the intention is to awaken the incarnated souls who are now on this planet to seek the hidden meaning of all that is said.

I was left completely bewildered in my chair, near my desk, when the writer’s block hit me. Whatever I was doing to bring my inspiration back, did not return any positive results. During the moments when I was crying on my own shoulder, like a super yogi who can twist any member of her body, I was looking with lost eyes around me.

The next revelation invaded my whole human being (I have to mention here that in my case, the revelations are coming like trains in a railway station…when they are needed, and never missing). I understood what was happening.

The problem was my desk. Yes, you heard it well. My desk was positioned in such a way, that all the creative energy was being blocked. Even if this creativity would come in huge waves surrounding me, the energy created by my desk would block everything. Do I need to mention the so-called “poisoned arrows” headed for me from several directions?

Having many fields of interests in this life, and most of them becoming passions, I started to apply my knowledge about Feng Shui. I changed the position of the desk, I improved sectors needed in a writer’s prolific life, and after this, I started writing again.

The words were flowing in my head like a mountain river in its channel. The ideas were coming in such an intense way that I almost couldn’t follow all because of their speed.

Unexpectedly, in those moments of total bliss, I felt something I could compare with guilt.

I asked myself: “What are you doing? Do you really want to keep these only for yourself? There are so many writers who need to know how they can influence the energy around them!”

I cannot stand any feelings of guilt; so instantly, a decision was made. I will write a book about handling the energies that affect a writer. And I started to write.

The completed steps are as follows:

(1)  At the end of the first day, I already had written 20 pages. I was doing this with such a passion that nothing could stop me.

(2)  The second day found me in the position of wondering how to organize all the information—if I am using a Word document. For a novel, it is easy to handle the plot, but for a non-fiction book, the situation is somehow harder. You need to have control over what you are writing in each moment. At that point, I was losing a lot of time scrolling up and down inside the pages.

I remembered hearing about the miraculous software used by the writers, called Scrivener. I made some online researches, but I was not prepared to buy the program. Therefore, I spent the rest of the day researching other options that could help my organizational process. I chose a free software also used by writers for its ease and efficiency. It is called yWriter and I never regretted using it.

(3)  The third day I spent studying what the software can offer my needs.

(4)  The fourth day was occupied with the book’s plot. I decided to split the ideas in 15 chapters, some of them having multiple subchapters.

(5)  I practically started to write on the fifth day. The chosen title for my non-fiction book is “Feng Shui for Writers.”

The next ten days kept me stitched to my chair. The ideas didn’t let me go too far away from my desk; they were practically invading my brain, so I had to rapidly take them out to fill the page in front of my eyes – a page that was looking like anything else, except a shiny blank page. I admit that I didn’t even sleep the regular eight hours, which I used to spend in my bed until that moment.

I noticed that during the ten days, my sleeping habits had changed, and what before was eight, now became six or even five from time to time. I will not develop the theme here of what is necessity for the human body, nor will I talk about passion and desires. My goal was only to talk about “How to write a Non-Fiction Book in Ten days.” The main idea was already said.

To make it short, because you probably already want to go and write, I will then conclude with a personal advice, which I will split here in several parts:

(1)  While having a writer’s block, forget about your novel.

(2)  Remember that you have knowledge from so many fields of interests.

(3)  Look around you and find such a field.

(4)  Develop ideas.

(5)  Put them on the paper, like a novel’s plot.

(6)  Use the proper software to help you organize all the information.

(7)  Do research based on your ideas.

(8)  Collect information and organize them.

(9)  Start to talk about your knowledge, about your passion.

(10)  Add your heart there, powder on some soul, and mix it with some love for the reader who needs that information.

Now… Start to write the best non-fiction book that you ever wrote. You can do it!

 

Meet our Guest Blogger, M. C. Simon:

 

Snapshot_20140803_9-revised2

“Writer, translator, researcher, engineer, happy mother, and beloved wife. What more can I want? :)”

To read M. C. Simon’s full bio, click here.

 

| Books  | MCSimonWrites | Facebook | Twitter | Google + | Email |

 

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Short Stories Aren’t Less

For a great article on the power of the short story, read Carmen DeSousa’s blog.

“Short stories are a great way to meet an author without a long commitment or a nice release when you need just a little escape before going to bed, since there’s no risk of staying up too late to finish the story, as most short stories take less than an hour to read.”

— Carmen DeSousa

Name That Word—No, Not That One…

Have you ever used a word, and found out, to your horror, it doesn’t remotely mean what you intended? Here are a few words that just might fit in that list.

[found on buzzfeed.com; by ]

INFER or IMPLY

What you think: They mean the same thing.

What they actually mean: To infer is to form an opinion based on evidence and reasoning. The listener infers. To imply is to express something in an indirect way without saying it plainly. The speaker implies.

FACTOID

What you think it means: A fun fact of little consequence.

What it actually means: A fun fact that is not true.

INVARIABLY

What you think it means: When something doesn’t happen very often.

What it actually means: Something that’s unchanging and constant, e.g., “The football season invariably starts in August.”

PALATE or PALETTE or PALLET

What you think they mean: The same thing.

What they actually mean: The palate is the roof of the mouth and also a person’s ability to discern different flavours, while a palette is what an artist uses to mix paints.

Neither are to be confused with pallet, which is a wooden platform used to stack things.”

[found on http://www.buzzfeed.com/patricksmith/words-that-dont-mean-what-you-think-they-mean#3wf2cie]


What Your Editor Needs From You

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor/ Editing Addict]

Editor Tip: What Your Editor Needs From You

Respect

Your editor is going to spend weeks pouring over your manuscript. She (or he) is going to eat, sleep, and breathe YOUR book. She (or he) will be correcting spelling, grammar, margins, indents, spacing (line and character), punctuation, formatting sections (for consistency), comparing character logic and plot flow… Your editor is going to be BUSY. Don’t treat them like your time is more important than theirs—or like you are their only client.

A Timeline—So They Can Schedule YOUR Book

Your editor is not a magician. She (or he) has other clients, and those clients all have deadlines too. When you know you are getting close to finishing your manuscript (not the day before you plan on handing it over to your editor), notify your editor. They need to estimate the time needed on your book, and let you know when they can do it, and then add it to their schedule.

Communication, Because Deadlines EXIST

1) Again, stop treating your editor like they can do magic. They can’t. If you missed giving your manuscript to your editor on time, several things should happen:

If at all possible (I mean, come hell or high water), stay within the deadline of when you said you would give your editor your manuscript.

As SOON as you know you are going to be late, notify your editor. Their time is valuable, and they need to schedule in another project. Remember, they blocked out time for YOU.

If you are late with your project, and you didn’t give your editor notice, you should be paying a late fee. You reserved their time, and you did not cancel it. Respect them enough to pay for the slot you scheduled.

2) Tell your editor about your deadlines.

Ideally, you should have given your editor the manuscript with time to spare, but if you need a rush on the edit, then you need to communicate this. Also, all rush edits need to have a rush-fee. You are asking your editor to SUDDENLY include your manuscript in their schedule. This means something else has to be shuffled (or possibly dropped) for you.

Complete Files

 When you send your manuscript to your editor, it should be in one file (not broken out in sections, chapters, or parts). If you change anything after your editor has started to work on your manuscript:

Most editors will require a change-fee, because they have to transpose all their notes, edits, and changes to the new document. Some editors refuse to work with any changed manuscripts, so it is best to ask in advance.

Most editors work with .doc and .docx files only. Ask your editor what he or she prefers, and then—send them what they ask for.

If you send your editor files she (or he) has to convert (e.g. .wp7 when they asked for .docx), you are taking two risks:

Possible lost information:

If your editor has to convert the files:

It means she (or he) doesn’t have the program your files are saved in. Therefore, once conversion is complete, your editor will not know if anything is missing from your manuscript.

There is also the possibility that your editor can’t convert the file, and the file will have to be returned to you. This delays your editor, and shrinks her (or his) timeline of work—because the deadlines are still the same.

Abusing your editor:

You want a loyal editor who roots for, cheers for, and fights for you. Not one who resents you every time you send them your manuscript in the wrong format. See the first item listed on this page.

A Way to Reach You

 More than likely, your editor won’t need to speak to you during the editing process. Radio silence does not mean anything is wrong, it means they are steadily working on your manuscript.

If your editor comes across something that needs to be addressed immediately, before they get too far into the book, they need to be able to reach you. Email is a good way to communicate, because they can copy/paste the questionable areas for you to read, and give them feedback (e.g. your editor may discover that your main character’s name changed in spelling, but you intended a plot-twist, and need your character’s name to change; you want them to check with you before correcting all the names throughout the book).

Both communication and respect assure success; they also enable teamwork to grow and thrive between you and your editor—who is on YOUR TEAM, and desires to be there. She (or he) hopes you succeed, and is excited to be along for the journey. Your editor is dedicated to helping you grow, and cares that you keep learning how to be an amazing author.

Help your editor to help you. Teamwork brings success!

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor / Editing Addict

 

How to Submit Poems for Publication

 Guest Blog by Dr. Katie Manning

 

Every time I teach Creative Writing: Poetry to college students, I spend some time going over how to submit poems for publication, and then I require them to send out two batches of submissions to literary journals at the end of the semester. I set them up for the reality of disappointment by talking about acceptance rates (often lower than 1% of submissions to journals) and by showing them my own Excel spreadsheet record of acceptances and rejections. I’ve actually had a handful of students get poems accepted on their first try with submitting, and my own acceptance rate has improved greatly over time, so we must be doing something right.

Here’s the quick and dirty version of my publication lesson, which is based on tips my poetry professors gave me, on my own experience of submitting poetry for several years now, and on my previous experience of editing literary journals. Of course, the first step is actually writing and revising some brilliant poems, but being brilliant isn’t enough to get poems published.

 

1) Find literary journals.

Check out the literary magazine databases on Poets & Writers and New Pages. Look over calls for submissions on CRWROPPS. Stalk (metaphorically, of course) the poets who seem to be your kindred spirits by looking at the acknowledgments pages of their books and submitting to the same journals that published them. Most importantly, be a good literary citizen and support the publications you most enjoy: purchase a print subscription, follow online issues, and invest yourself. You can’t do this with every journal you ever send a submission to (or at least I don’t have the time and money for that), but being an active reader of a handful of publications will likely make you a more savvy submitter of your work. When you have a better sense of which publications might prefer which poems, then you’ll be more likely to have work accepted.

Also, connect with real, live poets and editors as much as possible at local readings or national conferences or wherever else you can find them, even on Facebook and Twitter. The more you network with other people in this community for the sheer joy of having their company and experiencing their art, the more you’ll hear about publication opportunities and find readers and publishers for your own work.

 

2) Follow directions.

You MUST follow the guidelines for each specific journal when you submit your poetry. Each publication’s website will likely have a tab for Submissions (sometimes housed under About or Contact Us). If they say to send 3-5 poems, don’t send just 1. If they say not to put your name on your poems, then don’t do it. If they want you to paste your submission into the body of an email, don’t send an attachment. Nothing will get your work tossed aside more quickly than ignoring simple directions.

 

3) Cover letters matter (sort of).

If you’re submitting in hard copy, then your cover letter should be in business letter format. If you’re submitting by email, then you can be a little more casual with the formatting, but you still want to be somewhat professional. If you’re submitting via an online system, then you might only have a tiny box for a cover letter, so keep it simple.

If you want to show your familiarity with a journal, it is appropriate to address your submission to the poetry editor by name. If this information is not available to you, then it’s okay to stick with “Dear Editor.”

Keep the letter brief! You might tell them what you enjoy about their journal, but don’t go overboard. A simple “I’m submitting three poems for your consideration” with a “thanks for your time” is often best.

Many journals want you to send a brief (2-3 sentence) third-person bio; this is customary in a cover letter unless otherwise specified in the guidelines. There are different ways to approach this: some poets are strictly business (notable publications, current job, location), and some mix in more casual and fun details (hobbies, family info). If you’re able, see what the journal’s bio notes usually look like and match them. If you’re not able to do that, then do what makes you happy. Just be sure that your bio isn’t more interesting than your poems…

One final thought: I was told as a student not to say that I was a student in my cover letter, and I caution my students about this as well. Even editors who think that they love undergraduates might be inclined against a set of poems if they assume that the writer is especially inexperienced. Your bio should be honest, of course, but it can’t possibly include everything about you, so be strategic with what you reveal.

 

4) Keep good records.

Find a system that works for you. As I already mentioned, I keep an Excel spreadsheet with columns for the journal title, the poem titles, the date of submission, the date of response, whether or not it was published, and any fees or payment. I also like to note how I submitted—online system, email, or hard copy. I had a professor who kept records on notecards in recipe boxes. Do whatever makes you feel organized and happy.

Keeping track of submissions is important. If you’re submitting in earnest, then you can’t possibly remember when, where, and what you sent. Keeping some kind of log will ensure that you don’t send the same poems to a journal that already passed on them. It will also ensure that you don’t submit another batch of poems to a journal that is already considering a submission from you…that’s a sure way to annoy editors!

This brings us to the topic of simultaneous submissions. Most literary journal editors are now comfortable with the reality that poets will send the same poems to a few different journals at a time, meaning that most journals will accept simultaneous submissions. (Note: Some publications still say in their guidelines that they won’t consider simultaneous submissions. You will have to decide if those publications are worth your time.) The deal here though is that if a poem is accepted for publication in one journal while it’s under consideration at other journals, then it’s the poet’s job to be a good poetry citizen and withdraw the poem from consideration with those other journals. This might be done via email or within an online system; again, follow the directions in each journal’s submission guidelines for best results.

 

5) Keep submitting.

If you’re not one of those rare, lucky poets who have poems accepted on the first try, don’t worry. Most of us took a long time to get a first poem published, and sometimes even well-published poets have dry spells. Submitting poetry can be discouraging, but keep doing it. To pass along advice that was given to me, this is a numbers game. The more you send out, the more likely you’ll get something published. When I was first trying to get poems published in literary journals, I would try to keep around 40 submissions out at a time (usually sending a batch of 3-4 poems to 3-4 journals at a time). Your poems have to find the right editor in the right mood, so give them the best shot possible.

 

Meet our Guest Blogger, Dr. Katie Manning:

Katie-25Dr. Katie Manning is the author of three poetry chapbooks, including The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman (Point Loma Press, 2013), and she is an Assistant Professor of English at Azusa Pacific University. Find her online at www.katiemanningpoet.com.

 

How to Write a Book Review

 Book reviews help the literary world go round. Some book reviews are for assignments, others are for casual reading, but most are a way of life for avid readers.

What is a book review?

A book review is a form of critique in literature. Books are analyzed based on content, characters, theme, concepts, plot, style, and merit. A book review can be an opinion piece, a summary, or a scholarly review.

How to write a book review:

Purdue OWL

Writing-World.com

Dalhousie Library

Examples of book reviewers:

Big Al’s

Candy’s Raves

Underground

*None of these sites are affiliated with EditingAddict.com; all sites are meant to be used for instruction and example

 

Audience-Shmaudience—Write What YOU Love

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor/ Editing Addict]

Editor Tip: Write What YOU Love

 

It’s true that writers need to write to an audience. But the process is not a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.  As a writer, you do NOT need to find the audience you think is best worthy, and then force yourself to write for them.

 

Write what you love, and find the audience that loves to read what you write.

 

When C. S. Lewis was asked about his books, The Chronicles of Narnia, and whether he wrote specifically so children would read them, he answered:

 

“I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story. The good ones last. A waltz which you can like only when you are waltzing is a bad waltz.” 

 

Lewis wrote what he loved; he didn’t morph his writing so it would be read and liked by his audience. He found the audience that would cherish his writing. Children love his books; adults do too. Why? Because C. S. Lewis poured passion through the pages of his books—a love that is obvious, and not forced, a contagion of enthusiasm that inspires generations, young and old, to pick up his books and read again.

Know your audience, don’t choose your audience; your audience has chosen you. Write what you know, write what you love, and write what the world will want to read again and again.

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor / Editing Addict

 

How to Organize and Develop Your Writing Ideas

 Guest Blog by J. D. Scott

 

You may have had ideas come to you in a flood, or you may labor over them until they’re fully delivered, but they all have one thing in common: they need to be developed into literature. So let’s go over some techniques to help you make the transition from a great idea into a great piece of writing!

ORGANIZING YOUR IDEAS:

  • Do you have a lot of creative ideas for writing?
  • Have you thought of more than you have time to develop?
  • So what do you do with them all?

~ Write them down: An outline or a paragraph for the more complicated ideas, or a sentence describing the simpler ones, will help you retain your thoughts later.

~ Keep them organized: Index cards, filing cabinet, files on your computer, a binder. If you have multiple categories, you may want to divide them by color-coding the subject files.

~ Choose a subject: Now you have to pick! Consider the big ideas first. You may be able to combine a few into one story, but too many will confuse your reader. More is not always better! Consider your target audience, and focus in on that one idea. I would not recommend starting several writing projects at once. You could bounce from story to story, never finishing anything—or worse, get discouraged and give up all together.

DEVELOPING YOUR IDEA:

Now that you have your idea, it’s time to get writing! But how can this small seed develop into a thriving story? Here are some ideas…

Find a Writers Group: In person, or online.

Talk it out: One of the best ways I’ve found to develop a story is to talk it over, then talk it over again, and then some more! Have lunch with a friend or spouse, and share your ideas with them. Call another writer; you could be a sounding board for each other’s work. Using a tape or digital recorder can also be helpful. The idea is that sometimes listening to your thoughts out loud can be enough to get you moving forward in your plot.

Try Visualization: Play your story out in your mind like a movie. This is a powerful and creative processing tool. Picture your characters—what they look like, the environment they’re in, and what your senses are hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, and tasting. If you can picture it, it will be much easier to write. Photographs that represent settings or characters that you’re working on can also inspire you.

Sketch or Doodle: Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, this can be very helpful. You could draw anything from a character, a setting, such as a castle or house, or even an aerial view of the land your work is set in. They don’t have to be worthy of publication; they’re simply to help you “see” your story better.

Charts and Graphs: This could come in many forms, from: a family tree showing genealogy, a timeline with a sequence of events, a chart with the climactic moments of your story, or a graph of your characters’s personality traits. The point is, it has to make sense to you and help your writing to move forward.

Storyboarding: This is simply using still pictures (photographs or drawings) to tell a story. Screenwriters and cartoonists commonly storyboard, however, it can be a very effective tool to lay out the storyline of a book. This could also be done in small sections on a dry-erase board. You don’t have to be great at sketching; you are simply creating images that are significant to you, or using words or word groups to keep track of where you are in your story. Including character descriptions, geology, dialog, or location can also be helpful.

Puzzle-making: This method consists of writing down storylines on strips of paper so that you can shuffle events around until you’re happy with the sequence. It can also be used to arrange a family tree, show relationships between characters, or just to keep track of your ideas. This can be time-consuming, however, it’s a great way to show the flexibility in your plot.

In writing, the hardest obstacle to overcome by far—is SITTING DOWN AND DOING IT! Our lives are busy, and we have many demands on our time, but if you are able to carve out a time each day—or even a couple times through the week—you will be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I hope these ideas have been helpful to you, and have sparked your creativity.

 

Meet our Guest Blogger, J. D. Scott:

 

1398565_625686540810471_203956950_oJ. D. Scott is the organizing member of Abba’s Writers in Phoenix, Arizona. She leads, instructs, and teaches critiquing and story development to its members.

In 2013, J. D. Scott became part of the team at A Book’s Mind as a Publishing Consultant. She enjoys working alongside writers, helping them fulfill their dreams of becoming published authors.

Before being bit by the writing bug, J. D. Scott spent 20 years working with children as a nanny, mentor, camp counselor, and youth-group leader. With a heart for today’s youth, she set out to write books that both entertain and inspire them to rise above the current culture and see their true value.

She continues to live out her life’s passions of writing, publishing, and counseling/mentoring women and children.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | JDScottNovels | Blog | 
 | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Email |

 

[See what J. D. Scott had to say about our editor!]

 

How to Sell Your Books

[found on lloydlofthouse.org; by Lloyd Lofthouse]

 

“How I sold almost 2,000 books in twenty hours…

If you are a serious author—indie or traditional—then you’re in business and should have an internet platform. The simplest platform might just be a blog, or it could be more complex with a combination of a website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, and an Amazon author page, etc.

Once an author has an internet platform, there’s one more step to seriously consider—to advertise. Although I have been a guest on thirty-one, traditional radio talk shows, advertised in a regional magazine, held several author events in brick and mortar bookstores, earned awards from literary contests and been on several book blog tours, the only two marketing methods that resulted in immediate, measurable sales was through blogging on iLookChina and buying e-mail blasts from BookBub and/or Ereader News Today.”

To read the rest of Lloyd Lofthouse‘s article, and to add his blog to your toolbox, and bookmark the link, click HERE.

[found on http://lloydlofthouse.org/2014/06/19/how-i-sold-almost-2000-books-in-twenty-hours/]

 

Strategy for Writer’s Block

[found on entrepreneur.com; by Catherine Clifford]


“In many cases, the more important the writing task, the more the would-be writer freezes up. The result can be something of a Mobius strip of anxiety turned into fear turned into more anxiety, and what you’re left with is a blank page.

To help you work through writer’s block, consider the strategies below…

Don’t wait for perfect words. If every sentence has to be a flawless work of art, then you will sit in fear. The sweat might pour, but the words won’t come. Just start writing words on the page. Know that once you have started, you can go back and revise what you have. But until you start, you will never know where you are trying to go. If you are writing on a tight deadline, it is even more critical that you let go of the notion of immediate perfection. One writer friend of mine offered the analogy that writing is like cleaning a messy room: the only way a large mess gets cleaned up is to start tidying one small corner at a time.”

To see the rest of the writing strategies from Catherine Clifford, and to bookmark her articles for your toolbox, click HERE.

 

[found on http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/233264]