Monday, March 23, 2015

Question Time





Do questions help you move through the writing process? Whether brainstorming, writing, revising, or editing, I think questions are an important part of the sequence. That said, here are a few questions and answers that might aid your journey.

Are you "Avoiding the Vague Swamp"? C. S. Lakin illustrates ways to use a smart balance of specific and descriptive words to better engage readers in this post at Live Write Thrive.

Looking for ways to add variety to your blog posts? Carol Tice's My 23 Best Types of Blog Posts That Grab Attention offers great ideas that can help refresh and infuse variety.

Need advice on obtaining better freelance work? Check out this post at Pen and Prosper. Jennifer Brown Banks highlights pitfalls and solutions in 5 Things You Must Know to Get Better Clients and Get Paid!

Did you know that you don't need to register your writing with the U.S. Copyright office? According to a recent article on the Guide to Literary Agents blog, "Your work is copyrighted the moment it hits a tangible medium..." Learn more about copyright guidelines in Chuck Sambuchino's article, 6 Questions Writers Ask About Copyright and the Law.

Congratulations to Cecelia Lester, the winner of last week's book giveaway! Thanks to everyone who stopped by. :)

Are you inquisitive? What questions do you ask during the process?

Happy writing,

Karen


Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, March 16, 2015

Jeanette Levellie Shares Her Heart of Humor


Today's guest post comes to us courtesy of Jeanette Levellie. I met Jeanette through blogging; she is a sweet and talented author who has a knack for making readers laugh. Her latest book, The Heart of Humor offers a "...vacation from stress, worry, and global whining." I've read it and I must say, it does just that!. :) 

Jeanette has offered a paperback copy of The Heart of Humor to one of my followers, so check out the details below.



If Socks Could Talk 

By Jeanette Levellie

What is it with socks? Do you think they conspire to separate when we wash them? Perhaps as they come off the assembly line and their price tags are attached, they yell to each other, “See you the first week in November at the International Sock Reunion. This year we meet in St. Louis!”

For the first few months you own them, they behave, staying in tidy pairs from the hamper to the dryer. But soon the time approaches for their annual get-together with the friends they haven’t seen since birth. They start to strategize in the drawer at night. 

“Hey, Bernie, you drop on the floor when the guy throws you in the hamper from across the bedroom. You know how he likes to pretend he’s Michael Jordan. Scrunch behind the dresser where no one will find you. I’ll fall out of the lady’s hand when she tosses clothes into the washer. We’ll meet outside at ten tomorrow night and hitchhike to St. Louis. I can’t wait to see if one of those little French anklets with the purple lace around their cuffs shows up.” 




In the meantime the orphaned socks slump in the back of the bottom drawer, reading the novel Left Behind and wondering what they did wrong. A men’s trouser sock grumbles to an athletic, “They better find my mate soon; I haven’t been outta this drawer since last October. I just hope the sock police didn’t catch him. Their toe-jam torture nearly ruined my sister’s boy. I heard the black dress shoe telling its mate how he could hardly breathe after a day with my nephew.”

“I don’t believe you,” cries the athletic sock, huffing in disgust. “What kind of idiot do you think I am? Everyone knows shoes can’t talk!”  


© From My Heart to Yours: I love the story in the Bible about the talking donkey God used to rebuke a prophet gone astray. Makes me want to obey the Lord’s direction for my life, or He might decide to make one of my socks talk to me when I’ve wandered off His path.  Jen
 

Jeanette is a popular speaker, editor, and pastor's wife. Her hobbies include reading, gardening, traveling, and finding ways to avoid housework. She and her husband are parents to a son and a daughter, grandparents to three, and servants to four cats. 
  

Find her books on Amazon:  The Heart of Humor and Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top 

Visit her blog: Hope Splashes - Finding Gold in Life's Puddles



Giveaway Details 

Jeanette is giving away one paperback copy of The Heart of Humor. To enter, please note the following:  

1) Open to U.S. residents only  
2) Please leave your email address 
3) You must be a Google Friend Connect Follower of Write Now (on sidebar) 
4) Giveaway ends Friday, March 20 at noon Eastern Daylight Time 
5) Winner will be announced Monday, March 23

Congratulations to Jessica Haight, winner of last week's Amazon gift card giveaway!

Do your socks talk and tend to disappear? What's your "missing sock theory"?

Have a great week,

Karen
 




Monday, March 9, 2015

Nancy's Writing Tips

March is Blogoversary month here at Write Now. Year number 6! It's hard to believe that I've been blogging that long. It's been a wonderful adventure, and by far the best part has been the people that I've met. 

To celebrate, I'm hosting a giveaway today. (Details below.) In addition, two author friends stop by later this month and have offered to give away copies of their books

I hope you'll indulge me while I reminisce and share about someone (besides my Mom) who helped foster my writing journey. This writing "cheerleader" was found in an unexpected place. I met this inspiring woman about 26 years ago, and our initial contact had nothing to do with writing. I needed info on homeschooling, and my search led to a lovely woman by the name of Nancy Plent. She was the founder of the Unschoolers Network, New Jersey's only state homeschool organization at the time.

We became acquainted through phone calls and emails (we lived 2 hours apart), and before long, I was writing occasional articles for the Network newsletter and helping with parent support services. Working with Nancy was a pleasure; not only did she become a good friend, she offered opportunities to write and build other skills. The experience was priceless. 


Nancy was the one who encouraged me to write and self publish a booklet for homeschool parents. She offered advice on content, formatting, and marketing. I would not have taken that step had it not been for her support. The booklet eventually became Homeschool Co-ops 101, my first book published by a traditional publisher. 

Her advice, even back in the days prior to the social media explosion, is timeless and applies to other writing too, such as articles and blog posts. 

Nancy's Timeless Tips

1) Be real.  Down to earth, approachable, authentic - people relate best to these qualities. Nancy's friendly, conversational, and encouraging writing style taught me a lot. 

2) Give people something they need. Content must have audience appeal and be user-friendly. What info can my reader apply? 


3) Use examples. Well chosen nuggets illustrate a point and help readers say, "Yes, I can do this!" 


4) White space is important.  A balance of text and white space is key for a pleasant reading experience. Clean, clear text is appealing; clutter and disorder distracts. It ties in with #5: 


5) Employ digestible blocks of text. Large sections of text can overwhelm and potentially lose readers. Not that they must be spoon fed a few sentences at a time, but a good balance helps readers process content. 

I am grateful for friends like Nancy who take time to share and encourage. Although Nancy passed away in November of 2011, I still use and treasure her advice, writing and otherwise. 



Blogoversary Giveaway Details

I debated about what to give away as a small token of appreciation for your faithful support and friendship. Chocolate? A sports car? Books? I finally settled on a $15 Amazon Gift Card, since they offer most anything you might enjoy. Except maybe a sports car...

To enter, I need you to do two things:

1) Leave your email address.
2) Be a Google Friend Connect Follower (see Followers on sidebar).

That's it - no jumping through hoops or posting on social media. It's low key because I want one of my actual, faithful followers to win. I don't want someone who stops by just to enter a giveaway. Not that I dislike them; I appreciate their time too, but you've invested more time with me here and I want to express my thanks to you. Make sense?

Deadline to enter is Friday, March 13 at noon Eastern Daylight Time. Winner will be announced on Monday, March 16.


Who has helped encourage your writing journey? What have they taught you?

Happy writing,

Karen


Photo credit: Free Images

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

National Grammar Day

 




Did you know that March 4th is National Grammar Day?  

That means it's time for a rousing discussion on grammar, right? :) Well maybe not, but I'm thinking we can at least share a few grammar tips that have helped us along the way. 

One of my favorite gems comes from William Strunk and E. B. White. In their book The Elements of Style they said, 

“Do not overstate. When you overstate, the reader will be instantly on guard, and everything that has preceded your overstatement as well as everything that follows it will be suspect in his mind because he has lost confidence in your judgment or your poise. Overstatement is one of the common faults. A single overstatement, wherever or however it occurs, diminishes the whole, and a single carefree superlative has the power to destroy, for the reader, the object of the writer’s enthusiasm.”

I believe that overstating can take different forms. For example:

1) Capitalized Words 

Consider - which is better? This:

I KNOW you’ll AGREE with ME when I SAY that we MUST put an END to THIS DISPUTE.

Or this: 

We must end this dispute.

Have you ever received an e-mail loaded with caps like this? I understand the desire to make a point, but this is distracting and unprofessional.  

We can avoid this pitfall and emphasize instead with clear, efficient prose. Skip the caps except for abbreviations and similar instances.

2) The Exclamation Point 

The exclamation point (or mark) suffers from overuse too. Its true purpose of course, is for commands or exclamations like: 

Stop!    Wait!     Halleluiah!

Ever read anything (other than informal correspondence) that had exclamation points sprinkled throughout? Was it really that exciting or was the emphasis lost? 

I've read advice that said to review your text for exclamation points and remove all but one. Other alternatives such as italicizing key words and selecting sharp content help make our writing shine.

I think Strunk and White had the right idea. When we put our best writing foot forward, we avoid weak and diluted content. What do you think?


Visit Grammar Girl's National Grammar Day page for tips, links, and more grammar fun.

Do you have any tips to share? Have any grammar pet peeves?

Happy writing,

Karen


Photo credit: Free Images

Text copyright Karen Lange, 2015. Please feel free to link to this post, but no part of this post may be reproduced without written permission.
  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Meet the Blogger







My blogging friends are an interesting and diverse group. Their kindness and talents know no end. With that in mind, I've created a feature called Meet the Blogger to introduce you to a few of my friends. 

I'm kicking off the series with a visit from Cecelia Lester of Following My King



Welcome Cecelia! Why did you start blogging? How long have you had your current blog? 


I had written a play some church friends were going to perform on Good Friday in 2007, and spoke to our pastor about how I wanted to find a way to get others to know about my writing. (Now I know it’s called building a platform.) My first effort was not good, but after I had to step away from a job, I thought about trying again on another site. In July 2008, I chose to start over, so I have been blogging for almost seven years.
                                                                                       

What is your blog about? 

My blog is about Jesus and God. It has a long title: Quiet Spirit-Following My King. The name of what I call my writing ministry is Quiet Spirit.


What benefits have you gained through blogging? 

I have gained confidence in who I am. I am glad that blogging has given me a lot of friends that I wouldn’t have otherwise. 

Those are great benefits, I agree. What project/s are you working on right now? 

I am stalled on projects beyond my blog and the weekly column I write. My manuscript for a devotional book may be more of a teaching type book than what the publishers want. This is where I am stalled. 

Hang in there. :) Slow stretches have their purpose too, right? What might people be surprised to learn about you? 

I am somewhat introverted. I sometimes have a hard time talking to people.  

What advice would you share with a newbie blogger?  

My advice to new bloggers is they need to be consistent. I am able to post new blog entries three times a week. Some bloggers manage to add content two times a week or even only once or twice a month. But the key is consistency. 

Thanks for stopping by, Cecelia!

Thank you, Karen!

Visit Cecelia at her blog

Read her weekly column at Live As If.org

Cecelia Lester and her husband of 46 years live in east central Indiana and are the parents of one son. When not writing, she enjoys reading and participates in a prayer group and visitation ministry at their church. 



Write Now News

Please stop by for a new post this Wednesday, March 4 for National Grammar Day. The topic is - you guessed it - grammar. :)

March marks Write Now's 6th Blogoversary! Stay tuned for special features and a giveaway. 


Do you have any questions for Cecelia? How long have you been blogging?

Happy writing,

Karen


 Photo credit: Stock Exchange