Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday Writerly Tip ~ Platform

Whether you are traditionally published or self published you need to build a platform. When I first heard this I went, "Huh? What the devil is a platform?"

I'm not sure when or how the word "platform" was used in regards to writers, but it was a new item I had to have when looking for an agent, publisher, or selling my novels. When I searched, it was basically a sales tool to make readers aware of you as a published author. It's like standing on a platform to shout out to the world, "This is who I am and this is what I'm doing."

In the book, Escape from Second Eden I describe a scene of street vendors hawking their wares, and in real life we just witnessed political campaigns for the US presidency. It's the same thing. How are you going to publicize your book and yourself to the world.

It's hard to believe how much publishing has changed in the last three decades. I've witnessed the changes and none to happily. It isn't enough that you write a perfect story to get published. You now have to get your own name out there, and publishers and agents want to know how you are going to do this.

Okay, so I have the upper hand compared to Jane Doe Author, I have a business and marketing degrees, and experience. I was once told that I could sell salt to a man in a dingy in the middle of the ocean. High praise indeed, but it is some thing most writers lack. They have no idea how to sell not prostitution, but as an author of a fabulous story.

Personally, I prefer the soft sell. Something that sells 24/7 with little or no monitoring. After all, I'm a writer not a marketer (anymore sort of).

How to build a Platform:
  • Write a blog and gather followers. Now, if you read various agent blogs they will say several thousand hits per day is optimum. But honestly, do any of us have that who are not big name authors? Grow a blog is a better term. It will start small and then grow it. To get blog readers you have to read AND comment on other people's blog.
  • Website. If you haven't gathered followers elsewhere, this is a dime a dozen prospect. Who are you? I initially started with a website that averaged two hits per week. Running a website is a fairly expensive proposition a blog is free.
  • Join a writer's group. Some have upload ability to hone your craft so you can publish or shop an excellent story. You can also advertise your book in the process.
  • Join a reading club. Make new friends and they could become your biggest fans. Everyone likes to say, "I know her." 
  • Facebook- have a personal Facebook account set up a page as your author's page. Keep this strictly for being an games. Gather likes from you friends on Facebook to start. You will need twenty-five likes to keep the page. Advertise your writing challenges and books here. Mine are  Jolee Morriss and J. L. Murphey
  • Set up a Twitter account. For me I follow industry news, some authors, specific sites for zombies, business, espionage, womens fiction, paranormal, horror, and survivalist enthusiasts. My twitter addy is @JoMurphey.
  • GoodReads is a fabulous way to connects with writers and readers. Join a group of readers in whatever genre you write. Friend other members and make an authors site. Mine is here.
  • LinkedIn is another valuable resource for writers and readers. Mine is here.
  • MySpace. I know, I know MySpace is dead. But if you had connections there they might still be around.
  • If you self publish put your contact links in how to stalk you in the back of the book and as an e-mail signature.
  • Speakers Bureau. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce. Offer your services to speak to local clubs about your book or the writing progress.
  • Get a library card. Speak to your local librarian. All promote local authors.
  • Get to know bookstores in a 50-mile or 100 miles radius of your home. Not only the big named stores but the little independent ones. If you self publish the independent ones will let you do book signings there.
  • Once you are published send out press releases to every newspaper in 100-mile radius of's still local news.
  • Make a book trailer or have someone make it for you. Remember this is a 24/7 no monitoring sales tool.
 These are just a few to get you started. Do as little or as much as you can handle. None of it has to be monitored 24/7. But the more you participate the more you'll gain in a following. For me most times, it's an e-mail before I go into these places. I'm sorry to say it, but my livelihood is writing not chatting. Look at it an essential part of the puzzle in getting published and being successful at it.

So how many things have you done even if you haven't published your book yet?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How Much Space Do You Need for Writing?

 I know as authors and writers we are as varied as what we write. I was curious to what everyone else's writing space looks like.

If you've been following my blog, you know that I recently converted one of my spare bedrooms into an office with an 11 1/2-ft desk plus extensions. I've read of other authors who write in their recliners, or at their dining room tables.

So while I have this huge desk space for two, not everyone has this luxury. If they live in a huge city, space is a premium. While empty-nesters like me have tons of room to dedicate to the task.  That brings to mind how much space do you really need to write? Big enough for you and your laptop? Have space to spread out withe elbow room to spare?

I can remember writing my first articles and later a book with on a manual typewriter that I moved off and onto my dining room table. I had to pack it all up and move it every time I fed my children. It was a catch a spare minute to write when I could. Of course I was also in college back then so the same space was dedicated to homework time for me and my children. I wasn't happy about having to pack every thing up and moving it because it meant lost time packing and unpacking in set up time before and after I wrote.

Then came the advent of home computing. With computers you had to have a dedicated space such as a desk to set it up and keep it. Mine was set up initially on a card table off the hallway with one of my dining room chairs which had to be carried back and forth.

This was I first learned programming. I'm not counting the punch cards or magnetic reel to real spool type programming because honestly you couldn't fit one of those computers in your home. DOS had to be installed,  and then your basic word processing had no hard drive. Finally you saved it to a new disk before you shut it down. Still it was easier than typing on the manual typewriter. You could print out your material at the push of a key. You could delete or change text with a backspace or delete key. Gone forever was the White-Out, correction tape, carbon paper and aggravation.

Now computers are smaller than ever. You can access data by doing a search of the Internet instead of spending hours in the library or a microfilm reader. The same goes for books. E-readers are pocket sized. Printers are getting smaller. So how much space does today's author need to produce a sell able manuscript?

For me I gave up my 13x15 office and moved it into a 9x15 room, but I also have a 10x10 library in my home. I still enjoy the smell and feel of real books even with my Kindle. I can't help it I'm a old fart who still takes comfort in the tangible things of times gone by. I prefer to have a dedicated space to sprawl out whatever I'm working on. It's controlled chaos, but it's my controlled chaos. It's the way I can have my comfy chairs, and things I need at my fingertips.

So out of curiosity, how much space do you need for writing?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday's Mailbox

Here's another message from the old Tilda mailbox, or rather e-mail box.

Ηave you ever conѕidеred creating an
ebook or gueѕt authoring on other blοgs? I have a blog baѕed uрon on the sаme infοrmаtion yοu ԁiscuss and would rеally
liκe to have уou ѕhаre sοme storiеs/ іnfοrmatiоn. I know my viewerѕ would valuе your ωоrk.

It was again posted by, you guessed it, anonymous. I have an ongoing love/hate relationship with the '''anonymous" e-mails because I love hearing from people but hate not being able to reply to them. Most "anonymous" comments do not show up here, but go straight to my e-mail addy unless they are a Blogspot members. I'll get five to ten on any post I do.

To answer the e-mail- Yes, I do guest blogging and interviews, and no, I haven't wrote an e-book on the various subjects I write about on this blog. I have done several guest blogging gigs over the past few years on a variety of subjects. I also do interviews and host them from time to time here, and in the blogosphere. I haven't considered an e-book on the subject because honestly the internet and bookstores are overloaded with books on the subject.

What it takes to appear on my blog:
  • The subject of discussion
  • Any pertinent pictures, ie author photo and cover of your book.
  • An e-mail I can send you questions
  • Contact information for others to buy your book or follow you on twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, website/blog
All is handled by e-mail so feel free to to send me a message to also be aware that interviews are usually posted on Fridays in the order in which I receive completed information, questionnaire, and photos. This is the day I do guest blogs, interviews, and reviews.

To have me appear on your blog as a guest:
  • Subject matter or books you want me to discuss
  • Format
  • Other considerations
I can't promise that I can get it all done in a week, but I will do my best. Possible lag time is four weeks with my Abby Normal life. This is subject to change. You may notice on my side bar I belong/contribute to several other things...this is about a quarter of them.

If you've followed my blog for any length of time you may have noticed that I periodically change my background or layout from time to time. I still haven't found my perfect fit. Being an eccentric and eclectic person is hard sometimes. Being a creative person makes it doubly difficult. I just haven't found a theme that screams "ME" yet.

 For the coming year the blogging schedule will look like this:

  • Monday Mailbox: Answers to your questions you e-mail me.
  • Tuesday Tumbling Terms (subject to change): This was a hugely popular item last year. It's basically word power and enrichment. As writers as we strengthen our vocabulary, we write better.
  • Wednesday Writerly Ways: Whether it be grammar, marketing, indie authors or other things about writing/publishing you might want to know.
  • Friday Fun: Interviews and Reviews
  • Sunday Strokes Survival: Challenges of writing and living with a stroke. As my tag line says, everything affects the author in me. As an author and a real live person, my day-to-day life has changed drastically since May 2012.
This is all subject to change, but I hope you will join me.

So what are your blogging ideas for 2013?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Stroke Happenings and the Indie Author

Typing one-handed is a challenge, but is doable. It just takes some finagling. But some things on the keyboard is more challenging than others like pressing <ctr, alt, del> at the same time.

Things that normally takes two hands are near impossible. I say "near impossible" because they honestly can be done with a little ingenuity.  I have figure out how to do the little <shift and mouse click> to check all the boxes in my e-mails to delete multiple e-mails at the same time. But I have finagled a way to do it if I place the cursor and mouse in the right configuration. Not so difficult ...try it. Figuring out how to use the shift key and some others while typing was a trip down the yellow brick road in stretching the fingers to accommodate the movement.

My typing speed has grown to a whopping twenty WPM corrected. It has taken me three months to get to this speed using the "f,g,h,j" as home keys. That's longer than it took me to learn how to type with two hands at forty-five WPM back in the dark ages when I first learned to type on a manual typewriter. I remember starting slow and then picking up the speed to sixty, then eighty with two hands.  With one handed typing it's a bit slower but I expect to reach forty-five words a minute by Easter, if I keep practicing. It all depends on how much real life keeps me away from my computer. It's been doing that a lot of late.

Fortunately with keyboards, we have a delete key and backspace key. I've learned to highlight text to delete or change what is typed fairly quickly. Now using the keyboard and the mouse together has been problematic, but I'll figure out a way to do this to or find a way around it. Think editing manuscripts where you move chunks around. So eventually, I'll get my novels back into Amazon Kindle.

I'm always trying new stuff without adaptive equipment. Think of the pleasure I'll have when I break down and buy it to make life easier. My girls asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told them go in together and get me an adaptive cutting board. Cooking has always been a passion of mine. Not that I haven't learned to cut vegetables and cheeses, and spread butter on toast without it, but it will be easier and faster.

The good Lord knows, I've spent a small fortune on quality knives over the past thirty odd years and to not use them would be a crying shame.  Although the Rocker T Knife is excellent for small quantities, I miss really cooking for a crowd. This was the first 4th of July and Thanksgiving I haven't cooked or prepped large quantities of foods for the generational get together of our family. If this is your first time to my site, on average, a family get together in my family is fifty to three hundred and fifty people depending whose coming. I missed it terribly. Even though my sister did the cooking and she is a good cook, it lacked the panache style but a good time was had by all.

I now am consistently writing on an 8th grade level( standard for novels and non-advanced levels in nonfiction) which is a far cry from the 4th grade I was writing at. Yeahhhh! I'm a teenie bopper once again. <g>  I'm still struggling with spelling and grammar. Can't win them all. Whoever thought I'd be happy to reach a teenage level in writing at my age? So the book is coming along slowly. Like I said in my pastor's blog, God is teaching me patience. And boy, it's a hard lesson to learn!

I haven't given up on my right arm, but realizing my initial expectations were a bit optimistic and am figuring out how to do without until I get it back. Every day the shoulder gets a little bit more movement. It's taken some really hard work to get it to where it was before. Working the elbow is difficult with the bicep muscle weakened from the Botox injections, but I'm managing both active (moving it without assistance) and passive movement (with the help of my left arm or somebody else). The wrist and fingers still nothing. I'm still wearing the splints and braces to manage the tone I've got in my right side, and fighting an up hill battle, but drawing my sword and yelling "Charge!" as I move onward with my life.

So what battles are you facing?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Importance of Keywords

If you are like me and an indie author keywords are a whole different animal in marketing your book. Often, it is an under utilized sales tool.

How many of you use a search engine to find various things: Google, Bing, Yahoo? There are several dozens of sites on the web. Some are bigger than others but SEO (search engine optimization) is big business. It is often overlooked by the novice in indie publishing. It's how readers find your book based on what they are searching for. Sounds simple doesn't it? It is but it isn't.

This was one subject that wasn't offered in my marketing degree program, but waaaayyyy back then the internet was in its infancy. I did go back to college last year and took a course in it because of my Doh! moments. I didn't do this with Escape from Second Eden but have expanded the keywords on my other novels. I spent the last year in a trial and error phase of indie publishing.

How to find keywords as an author? Think about your book. What does it contain? Ask an author about their book and they will either tell you volumes on the plot lines, characters, or the setting or a sentence or two. I know I'm guilty of both. Of course, it depends on how much time you have. In an agent interview for standard publishing you have fifteen minutes on average, but you may lose them in  two.

Now I've seen keyword lists for a book at forty plus words. To me that's overkill. I mean really? That would have a link to your book in forty plus searches. That may sound like a good deal, but over exposure better than under exposure? The phrase is KEYWORDS not Montezuma's revenge. Ten or twenty well placed words should be enough.

Okay, what do want to specify about your book?
  • Author name? It is your brand name. That way all of your books come up in the same search.
  • How about genre? Don't certain people read only Science Fiction, Thrillers, Horror, and Romance? I'm not one of those, but some people do.
  • How about setting? Some people will search for books depending on where it's set, say Canada, India, or even Georgia in the USA.
  • How about whether your book is fiction or nonfiction?
  • How about murder, love, betrayal, jealousy, or any other emotion? The main plot line.
  • e-book, paperback, hardback? How is it available?
  • How about the age group it's meant for? This is especially helpful in the childrens book selection.
These are just a few in the general section. Then there are more specifics like:
  • Spies, spy
  • Candy
  • Child abuse
  • Survival
  • Zombies
  • Marriage
  • Stroke, CVA
These are specific types. They narrow the searches to individual categories. You get the idea. Certain sites where you may publish your work at as an indie may limit the number of keywords you may use so think carefully on just how you want it represented. This is your book in one word increments. You want to hit your key market of readers.

You may have noticed that I am using more keywords when publishing this you know why. I've gotten thirty more followers than last year. Thirty more followers may not sound like a lot, but how about 10,027 more hits on my blog over the past six months? Now that's impressive for someone who writes on a little known blog out of millions on the web. I advertise my blog on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and SheWrites, but not always and that's it. The rest comes from random searches.

So how important are keywords? You tell me.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Surviving Tooth and Nail

Surviving a stroke and trying to adapt to changes is like surviving tooth and nail...literally.

My teeth and nails have become adaption tools in my attempt to do normal things. Can't close a bag of chips and clip them with one of those clippy things one handed...teeth come in very handy. Have to rip open mail one handed...fingernails work great.

Yes, since I've come to terms with my stroke I'm finding all sorts of alternate uses of what I do have replacing what I don't. While I figured out how to open a can with a standard can opener, I haven't figured out how to open cans with pull top lids yet without buying a special tool. There's just some things I'm going have to sit down and figuret out.

Last night I even accomplished dinner preparations and cooking. It wasn't anything fancy like I used to prepare, but it was a start. The menu was baked chicken breast basted with butter, not the fake stuff but real butter, baked potatoes, and broccoli, cauliflower, carrots in a cheese sauce. I even managed buttermilk biscuits, although they were the frozen variety.

It was one of those Dolly Parton chicken breast so one was more than enough meat. Cutting the vegetables was a bit tricky without an adaptive cutting board, but my Rocker T knife, sort of like the a Ulu knife, that my son-in-law's remade handled and husband's knife sharpening skills made short work of the project, sort of. It only took me an hour to cut the two cups of vegetables needed for dinner. I hate to admit it, but the cheese sauce was from a can. Lord, I hope my old culinary instructors don't read this!

Baked potatoes are easy right? Nope. My fingernails came in handy while washing them. You know you're supposed to pierce them to cook them faster, right? Well I pushed a regular knife through the center and it got stuck. I ended up grabbing the handle of the knife with my teeth and my good hand pulling the potato off the knife. Dangerous, huh? I managed though. I put the chicken and potatoes in the oven and baked it all together.

I basted the chicken with my turkey baster and burned the joint closest the the wrist of my thumb when I touched the top of the oven. Well, no gain. My Aloe Vera plant is in a pot on my kitchen window sill for just such occasions. A quick pinch, with you guessed it- my fingernails, a firm squeeze, and prying my affected fingers open to hold it while holding the snipped piece of plant with my teeth, and rubbed it on the burn. Now I could have called for help, but I was testing new ground in self-sufficiency.

About thirty minutes before it was done, I popped the biscuits on the baking sheet. This was after I pulled the pull strip on the bag of the frozen biscuits open with my teeth, and placed them in the oven. This was the first time I've cooked a meal without help since I've been home. I've fixed other meals but always with my husband's able hands helping me. I definitely feel proud of my accomplishment.

Meanwhile, I've been steadily working on my newest nonfiction, Don't Get Your Panties in a Wad. It's coming along slowly, but I'm still working on it. In this case, it's like pulling teeth and nails to keep the progress going. I've been in such a funk that writing humor consistently is difficult. I'm still journaling memories as they come to me. Some of the dreams I'm having are just too strange to believe. It's got to be the drugs. I may have to rethink the humor angle, but it's still a work in progress. I really don't know at this point what the final outcome will be, but I'm writing.

Occupational therapy at the hospital continues on my shoulder. I now have a nifty shoulder pulley and weights at home to work the shoulder muscles. I think I'm going to have to convert my spared bedroom into a gym before I get everything back again. Between the Ortho stuff, splints and braces, air cycle, and my treadmill/stair's taking over the space where my pool table should be. Now, I've got it pushed back in a corner totally unplayable. Moving it into my old office space took three of my burly son-in-laws and my daughters. It took the same amount of effort to shove it into the corner. 

Painful, but I'm doing it,but I'm still working towards recovery. So long as the tone in my bicep, yep it's back after two months post Botox, will allow. In therapy when the therapist stretches my arm and shoulder it like, "Pain in the bicep,"and "That's the shoulder" with every movement. I think I must have said it the last couple stretches with tears running down my face, but I've got 45% movement in my shoulder now. That's the good news.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Producing a Book Trailer

It's all the rage with indie and traditional published is the video trailer for a book. Publishers may produce book trailers now because they are seeing the added value and exposure of the internet.

Who actually reads the New York Times in paper form or any of the dozens of other big named papers when they can get it online? Are you as irritated with junk mail or advertising filling up e-mail and regular mailboxes? Give me a two-minute blurb to help me decide. That's what a book trailer can do.

With sites like youtube and the like, it's easier than ever to promote online. The basic video production software is already on your computer for most of us running Windows. Personally, I like the detailed adjustments using Windows XP over the newer version of Windows 7. I don't know about Windows 8 because I haven't played with it yet.

There are a couple of ways to do a video. You can actually stage and film your video with actors, or using picture manipulation, or use both. You can also make a PowerPoint first then manipulate it with Movie Maker. I use Windows Movie Maker because it came with my computer.

 The Bottom Line

Let's face it when you are an indie author the bottom line or cash outlay is important.  If you've paid for professional editing or cover design you already have a small bundle in your book before you even publish it. You already have the investment of time, energy, research (internet), maybe a wig or two because you've pulled your hair out while writing the book.

You, as an indie author, probably bought MS Office at sometime during your writing career because Smashwords only takes Word documents. So you have MS PowerPoint. The first video novel trailer I made was for my first novel Escape from Second Eden.


I did it with PowerPoint slides and Movie Maker. I had some problems with the add-ins like music, sounds, and just general software utilization so I asked a teenager to show me how to do it. I learned a lot. I tweaked it, overlapped it, and just forced myself to learn all the bells and whistles that came with the Movie Maker.  I'm not totally happy with it, but it works and it was free because I did it.

Can I make money off of video production, yes. I have and will continue doing it because I enjoy it. Intellectual property has value and my time is worth something even if I enjoy doing it. It also helps me buy wigs for all the hair I've pulled out searching for appropriate music and images for the trailers. Just joking. On average I can produce a trailer in under five hours depending on what kind of book it's for, have graphics and photos, and sound. So what am I doing for five hours? Tweaking, resizing, editing, and formatting the trailer...sound familiar? Yep, it sounds a lot like writing. 

Some Things to Think About...

  • Make sure the images are copyright free and even better, royalty-free.
  • The same goes for ANY and ALL music and sounds you use.
  • Read the info for various media production sites...notice how many say "not for commerical use" If you are using the trailer to sell is commercial use.
  • Give credit where credit is due. Most royalty and copyright free music and images give full use and manipulation so long as you give them credit. This includes the name of the piece, the artist, and site you downloaded will see this in "Credits" in my videos. Using a popular song on the radio is a big no-no. You can be SUED.
  • If all else fails, email the photographer or musician. Some may love the added exposure and feel flattered. Some will deny you. It's worth a shot.
  • There are some specialty programs for video making and tweaking in the marketing place, but before you buy one...think. They can be very costly. How many views do you expect to get and how many trailers are you going to make. Divide the number of videos you are going make into the cost outlay of the software. Now is it worth it?
  • The total length should be no longer than 3 minutes. That's how long you have to catch someone's interest. Ask any agent or publisher.


The Reality

Making book trailers is an artistic outlet for me. I do it because I enjoy it. If you expect to get a couple thousand hits's doubtful. All twenty plus book trailers I've created have never done that. Over a couple of months, yes.

It's a hands-off advertising gimmick once it's completed. It will sell your books 24/7. We are all human and we need to sleep sometime. Keywords play another key roll in making your book findable but that's a blog for next week. Until next time...

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Monday, November 12, 2012

From the Mailbox

 I really get some interesting e-mails in my contact box. Most are from anonymous because they get it from one of the feeds that subscribe to my blog. They get mailed to me with address line reading "Anonymous" so I can't e-mail them back with answers unfortunately. If you are making comments via a feed service please put an e-mail address somewhere on it. Otherwise, I may or may not answer you.

Anonymous writes:

With havin so muсh writtеn contеnt ԁo you ever run іnto any prοblems of plagorism оr coрyright infrіngement? My site hаs a lοt οf unіque cοntеnt I've either written myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my agreement. Do you know any ways to help stop content from being ripped off? I'd trulу appreciate іt.

Sorry about the typos and misspellings, I copied it to Wordpad from my e-mail. This is the way I received it. Why didn't I post it here directly from my e-mail? Have you noticed on some blogs it reads black and white on a colored background, and has the words underlined? That's because it was copied from the original post or Word to here. I discovered this early several years ago when I first started blogging.

Okay, on to answering of the question and suggest a fix. I never post anything on my blog that I don't expect to be "stolen," or misrepresented, or used. The fact is that I created this blog for friends, family, other writers, fans, and readers. If you notice under "Pages" there is a page called "Legal Stuff?" This is my disclaimer. If you scroll to the very bottom of the blog, you will see an additional copyright statement provided by Blogspot. I basically expect people to be honest. Most have asked.

The thing about copyrights is that you have to prove the text or drawing is yours. For me it's rough drafts, editing versions, and ultimately a finished book so there is plenty of proof it's mine. The internet makes it your job to protect it while providing intellectual content is not infringed upon. If I use your material a simple " that's mine you haven't asked my permission to use it" will suffice. I'll pull the contents. In others, it's just straight outright theft if it continues, and revenues are lost because of it, I can be taken to court. The internet makes it so easy to do this unawares. Vigilance is the key.

To plagiarize someone you steal their exact words. Not an idea, but word for word. Since even the text I put on here may have been someone else's original idea and I expanded upon it isn't plagiarizing. The format may be the same, but some people do think alike...writers especially. It really doesn't pay to do it either you could face jail time and multimillion dollar lawsuits. My opinions are my own and gathered from a varied of sources. Just like everyone else's in the world, I have opinions. It is, after all, my opinion or my way of doing it.

I frequently do searches on my books to see if they've been stolen or pirated. So far, I've been lucky to my knowledge. That includes character names in case someone has changed the title and put their name on it.  I'm diligent. They would be foolish to do it with my works, but that is not the case with every author. The internet is world wide and very easy to find anything you want just be careful about using it without permission. I backtrack pictures and graphics back to the source on here.

Other contents like organizing your files, outlines, etc are gotten widely accepted practices, or other author's suggestion (I hob nob with quite a few), and has my own personal spin on it. If I get something from a specific source, I'll e-mail the author for permission to use it and cite back to the author.  It is my opinion on what works and what doesn't. Excerpts are usually in rough draft form and if it is taken and another writer runs with it, that's their problem. My finished text will be different than posted here after expansion,editing, and more editing to polish.

How you can fix your problem, have you contacted the offending person? In spite of contact are they still persisting to use the material? How far are you willing to go to get them to stop using the material? Just a warning, how are you going to back up your beliefs that the person has stolen something from you? For me, I have a lawyer who will draft a letter of infringement, and cease and desist with a public apology. It that fails, there is always a lawsuit.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Say It With Me...

This is the world's smallest violin...and it's playing for you.

The past couple of posts have sounded like I'm constantly on the pity-pot. But although I had some downs, it's not that I haven't had ups too. You know when you hear someone else's story you feel almost feel a guilty relief that it could be you...that happened repeatedly to me this week doing the usual round of doctors.

It's all the little things in life that are often overlooked. I can bathe myself and there are many who can't. I can feed myself and many others can't. I am encouraged by loved ones while others have no one. All these things were brought home to roost with the death of a beloved friend.  She will sorely be missed for her smile and laughter. Even when she lost her memory, she still brightened everyone's day.

Today, I rejoice in the fact that after only five months after my stroke, I can still of my all time favorite things to do. While mentally challenging, I can play games and remember. I can complain about everything and anything if I want to. I can praise God with full knowledge of what I'm doing and why I'm doing. I have a good enough command of the English language that I can make myself understood.

Many things we take for granted in this life and it needs to stop. So I'm focusing on what I can do. Don't Get Your Panties in a Wad is progressing. Another 600 words done in the manuscript. <bowing> Thank you. It's an accomplishment and no small feat considering my stroke. No, it's not coming together as fast as I'd like, but I'm doing it. Really, that's all that matters, isn't it?

I've reached the stage of grief over my loss where I'm in acceptance and ready to move on. Who cares besides me that there are grammatical errors or misspellings at this point? Besides me, that is. It's still a work in progress. That's what spell/grammar checkers, and editing are for. The loss of Kindle versions on Amazon bites, but it is also available at Smashwords, KOBO, Barnes and Noble, Blio, and a host of other sites in e-versions, and sales continue.

I may have lapses into the pity-pot from time to time, but they shouldn't appear here. There are many challenges in writing and the hardest part is doing it and keep doing it.

So what has awakened you lately?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Organizing Your WIP

I'm almost anal compulsive when it comes to organizing my "homework" data. You've read in my blog what homework is in tailoring your's all the preliminary stuff you do before and while you work on your book.

Even though I don't feel this way about most things, I do when it comes to writing. Last Wednesday, I talked about outlines and the various ways I gathered information. This week is how to find that information when you need it...Storing it. We have these nifty (yeah I'm old but young at heart) things called computers. I use Windows but I'm sure all the other operating systems have something similar. Even if you print them out and keep it in a folder on your desk, you probably gathered the information from the internet so it's in a jumbled mess under "my pictures," "my downloads," "my video," or "my documents, etc." In other words, lost in all the other stuff on your computer.

For me, this is my method, but do something similar... something that makes sense to you. You'll thank yourself later whether you are playing at writing, or writing your first novel or book, or like me- have 31 published titles under your belt...if that's the case you probably have a system in place. For the rest of you, get started now!

1) Under "my documents" make folder. Right click your mouse and a small screen will show. Select "new" and click on "folder." In mine I titled it "my books,." and "my Shorts." Open this folder, Don't worry it will be empty, but we will fix that. I started each major folder starting with the same letter so it's easier for me to find it later. "My shorts" are articles, writing prompt exercises, and short stories under 1K words. I segments it the same as "WIP."
2) Doing the same procedure create several new folders in "my books": "WIP,""EDITing," "Completed ms," and "Published," I e-publish and paperback so I need the published folder for the various formats. This way I know what is a WIP, what needs editing, what is final drafts, what I want to publish or send to my agent or publisher. IF it is the latter I create folders for "Queries" and "Synopses." No, I don't send the same query to different agents. To me it's just like a form letter's done way too much. I keep spreadsheets of contact, queries in another folder. I create a folder under each I list as "Sales" these are the monthly and quarterly sales reports. Sorry, it's the retired accountant in safe and double check the figures, not after you receive a 10-99.
3) Open up the WIP folder. Create a folder with the title of the MS. It doesn't matter what you call it. For instance, for the first ten weeks when I was writing Escape from Second Eden this folder was called "Ceylon" because I didn't have a title but I knew it was going to that place in Ceylon.It can always be changed later.

For me, I have twenty titles in my WIP folder for various states of first drafts that I was working on before my stroke. I know I'm Abby Normal. If you take a look at my sidebar there are three bullet for three novels, but sixteen I can work on and nothing for my nonfiction, I have four of those. Writing in multiple genres and multiple titles is NOT for the normal person. It's just the way my brain worked before my stroke.

4) Okay now you have an also empty folder for your WIP under (insert your title). Open it up. I'll makes some new folders and title them: Character studies, Pictures, Roughs, and Background. Name them whatever you feel comfortable with. This is just how I do it.
5) Now it's just a simple cut and paste option to add those things that are elsewhere on your computer. The "background" holds your tidbits of information, quotes and references. I do suggest renaming the items for easier recognition and the same goes for pictures. I know one author I tutored placed the pictures of her characters, houses, etc. too on her character study which was pretty smart.
6) Going back to the next category, "EDITing."  Once you've completed your rough draft move the whole WIP folder titled with your work to "Editing."
7) You've got everything for your book in one place while it goes through the editing process. Each editing pass put the title with an alphabet or number after the titled so you can keep track of all your editing passes while still leaving the previous version untouched. It's an affirmation technique and if something does not work the way you want it you have a copy of the pre-edited version at your finger tips.You can even do a split screen version. If you've set it out to betas, or critique, you have some place to store them. I add the initials of the critiquer to the end of the title when saving. This even works with proof-readers or copywriters. Now go back and reread your rough and see the changes in your manuscript. You'll be surprised!
8) After you've done all the editing, you will move the file to "Completed MS." You still have all your stuff for that book in one place. You will change the name of the last edited version to the official title of the book. I suggest using capital letters so it stands out.
9) "Published"- in this folder you will copy and paste your completed book in whatever form you wrote it in. You will be creating a new folder titled "formats" and this will be the various formats you are going to be publishing in with format in the title.
10)You have designed your book cover in 5x 8 and full jacket. It's there under "Pictures." You have your back cover blurb, "about the author," your author picture, under "Background" You will copy and paste it into "Published" with book title. You have everything all together to place your book up for sale.

It won't be easy organizing all the information that goes into a book...writers are constantly trying different things. It's free and already on your computer. Soon it will become habit and you'll stop the " I know I have it somewhere in my computer" shuffle. Been there/Done that.

Oh, by the way, back up this file to a thumb drive or other backup system.I've lost entire manuscripts carbon copies (pre-computer days) and computers due to fires, electrical surges, floods, drive crashes, etc. It ain't called Murphy's Law for nothing and I'm a Murphey!

Now if you do your own book video trailer the under "Pictures" you will have to create a new folder named "Trailer." But I'll explain this another day.

So how do you organize your writing?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Been Distracted This Week & Another Excerpt

I've been distracted this week by shoulder pain. With the steroid injections in my shoulder late Friday, it still feels like a sledgehammer pounded it. It should ease up in another day or so. Alternating heat and ice in the mean time, and the doctor was nice enough to prescribe some pain killers to take the edge off. I don't know if any of you have taken Ultram, but it's as effective as peeing on a house fire in dealing with strong pain. But it does does the sharp edge off so I can sleep. I can't write a coherent sentence on it so it must be doing something.

Now, additional's back to therapy under private pay. My wallet is really not looking forward to that. Twelve appointments at a minimum of $120 a visit. I was also given another catch-22...possible surgery to repair the damage. I'm not looking forward to that either. My orthopedist will have to battle with my cardiologist and my neurologist on that front. So I've been muddling through all this new influx of information this weekend. Needless to say, I'm scared despite my faith...not of dying, but having another stroke. The final decision date is coming up December 14th.

My mantra during my three bouts of cancer...1) I'm in God's hands, 2) I'm too stubborn to give up, & 3) I'm too mean to die; is wearing a bit thin after months of setbacks. I still have faith and will say my usual prayer,"Lord, if I die during surgery, I will be content because my work is complete and I'm with You. If I live, I know my job isn't finished upon this earth." I will put this in my "Give it to God Box" and His will remains supreme. I'm still doing all my home therapy to try and not lose anymore ground.

Enough morbid stuff! I promised you and excerpt. I've managed a 1,000 words this week. Yeah me! It's a working WIP.

Don't Get Your Panties in a Wad (c) 2013 JoAnn Mefford All Rights Reserved
Section 2 TCU excerpt. WARNING: the content does contain a cuss word and it is about a bodily function.
(excerpt begins)

Bowel movements are an entity all to themselves. Before you had your stroke you were probably like me and you looked at what you deposited in the toilet. Color, composition, and texture hold some very important clues to your health. Now, it's a six-point turn to look, but I still do. One of the questions on most forms when you go to new doctor deals with this.

What? You don't? Well, aren't I just Mrs. Abby Normal again! Well after my stroke, I didn't dare even try. I didn't feel the urge to go. One of the questions asked on admittance to the TCU was when my last bowel movement was. I had to think back. It was Friday the day of my admission to the local hospital for my stroke. Almost a week had gone by.  But then, I was on IV fluids, and I ate less than 25% of the liquid diet and puree. Not much solid waste to dispose of, I reasoned. It was determined that I needed a laxative to get my bowels moving to determine if the problem wasn't stroke related. Now, I rarely use laxatives because they always cause diarrhea in me even the gentlest ones. I normally eat a thirty grams fiber diet which controls any bowel issues.  It works for me. So they ordered a daily stool softener and laxative.

Let me tell you it was a mess. The urge to go to the bathroom hit just as I was wheeled into OT, not first thing upon waking. I told my therapist I needed to go to the bathroom. The bathroom was huge and meant for maneuvering wheelchairs around. Think the ultimate handicapped bathroom. I could almost fit both of my two full sized bathrooms in this one room. As was usual, I got diarrhea from the laxative.  I was in there so long, my therapist checked on me twice. After I was finally finished half my OT time was gone.

I still had the urinary catheter in place. Then came the clean up. I honestly tried to wipe myself. Since I'm left hand able only and the toilet paper holder was on my right, I held a roll of toilet paper with my good hand. The roll of toilet paper got away from my one handed self and rolled towards the door with me holding one end. I figured I could pull what I needed very gently and pray the cheap stuff wouldn't tear. My balance was horrendous so just the simple movement of sliding to the edge of the raised seat to wipe my bottom put me in the precarious position of falling off the commode seat.

I grabbed the safety bar to steady myself and lost my hold of the end of the toilet paper. Maybe I could reach the end with my good foot. I pulled the non skid socks off with my weakened foot. I stretched out my foot as far as I dared and grabbed a tiny edge with my toes. My toes shredded the paper, and then I had small pieces of toilet paper stuck between my toes. It was as if I had been painting my toe nails. Slipping, my brain's alarm bells went off and I could feel my left foot arching inwards, shifting my body weight closer to the edge of the toilet and a started tilting forward. I had to act fast to keep from falling. Like a sole survivor of a ship wreck clinging to a round life preserver, it was either hold the bar or slip to cold, hard tiles floor making a further mess at the very least, or hurting myself. My naked left foot firmly placed on the floor and my right leg and ankle too weak to hold me. The floor was my least favorite outcome.

I was stuck. A dirty job to clean up, me teetering on the edge of the toilet, toilet paper unrolled across the floor and out of reach with bits between my toes. I swallowed my pride and hit the emergency call switch. The pull cord was draped over the safety bar. All it took was tugging it with my pinkie of my good hand. So much for my "I do it" attitude. I was defeated. What other choice did I have?

My therapist came in saw the roll of toilet paper spiraled across the floor as if a cat had played with it for an hour, and me hanging onto the grab bar as if it were the only thing saving me from certain death. "Need help?" 

I nodded thoroughly ashamed. Her voice was so matter-of-fact and I imagined she'd seen it all before, but still, this was me.

She adjusted me back centered on the commode, donned some gloves, and pulled some of heavy-duty diaper wipes (think huge, thick diaper wipes-if you haven't seen them) which proved to be useless. The lotion to protect against skin breakdown they put in them made more of a mess. She took a clean roll of toilet paper from the cabinet. She stood in front of me while I bent over and hugged her legs for balance while she cleaned my bottom for me. Just like my daughter cleans my five-month old grandson's bottom, I thought, and as I done hers so many years ago.

By the time it was all said and done, that was my ADL lesson for the day. Mortified and completely cleaned inside and out, I lay in my bed utterly done in from the experience thinking this was an awful first impression for my therapist to have of me. She must think I'm a real ass. She had seen more of my buttocks in that one session than my face.
(end of excerpt)

I know there is some over use of some words in this, but this is still a rough draft.

You know you want to!

Keep writing and loving the Lord.