Tag Archives: writing

Scrap Irony

Some interesting tidbits here from the blog of Joseph Ajlouny.

J. Ajlouny, Author

Scrap Irony

These items can be described as “things I discovered while looking up other things.” I have tons of them and I will continue to supplement this compilation from time to time. They are in no particular order but each is a great conversation starter. The only thing they have in common is that they are not commonly known, and that’s what makes them fascinating. I have many more such items so I will continue to supplement this compilation when the spirit moves me. So read on and you will learn things you never knew or thought you would.

Giraffes have the same number of bones in their neck as do human beings: six.

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Jackie Robinson is well-known as the first African-American to play baseball in the Major Leagues, beginning in the 1947 season as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. But what is almost completely unknown is the…

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The Taxing Process of Writing!

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Today I am sharing space here with indie author and publisher Traci Sanders. Traci has written a fantastic new series that will help even the seasoned pro write it better. Here, in her own words, is Ms. Sanders…

MY 3 BOOKS

Tip 358: What you can “write off” as an author

(tax deductions)

*This tip can be found in Living The Write Life: Tips on making the most of your writing skills, now available in digital and paperback format.
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Are you an Indie author? If so, you are a contractor, whether you like it or not. Regardless which company you publish with, you will be required to answer a few basic questions to set up your tax account with them. When you sell any books, they need to know how and where to send your money.
Therefore, no matter how much (or how little) money you make on your books, you must claim it, because the publishing companies do.
 
The good news is, you also have tax deductions available.
 
Here is a list of deductions you can claim as an author:
         Office supplies
         Telephone/internet fees
         Cabs, subways, bus fares
         Book, magazines, reference material
         Agents’ commissions (if included in income)
         Film and processing – book trailer fees
         Copying – brochures, flyers for events
         Editorial fees – costs to hire professional editors
         Promotional fees – advertising materials
         Office rent – If you use a dedicated space for your writing – cannot claim for two businesses at once
         Utilities – a percentage for your writing (dedicated) space
         Memberships (professional organizations) – book club fees, writing organizations
         Messengers, private mail carriers, postage – shipping costs for giveaways, etc.
         Business insurance
         Tax preparation fees
         Travel costs – for out of town events – conferences, signings, etc.
         Business meals and entertainment
         Equipment – rentals of video/audio equipment for events
         Software – writing/editing/illustration software
         Legal and professional fees – patent lawyer, copyright lawyer
         I actually claim the books I buy and read because I consider them “study material” for my craft, especially those in my genre.
         As a public figure, for instance, when you do book signings and other events, you must have a professional appearance; therefore, you can write off your salon costs, new clothes, and even the food you serve at the event. Just be sure to keep the receipts and make notes on them.
         If you are at lunch and you pass out a business card or book to someone, write off that lunch by writing the person’s name and the book you talked about at what became your “business luncheon.”
         Treating your writing business like a professional entity will help you save money and avoid tax audits in the process, especially if you are like me and operate a separate business at the same time. The deductions must be kept separate.
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Here are a couple add-ons to this tip, shared by Stephen Geez:
 
Research can be an important expense to track. That 250-word essay I’ll be writing about what it’s like to spend a month scuba diving in the Caymen Islands is definitely going to require some hands-on research…
 
Just thought of another point that used to be very useful: If you’re writing for a client, an assignment, an intended buy, or even if you eventually sell to a client, you might be surprised by how much the end-user will be willing to reimburse expenses that s/he can write off. Don’t leave that money unclaimed if a bit of assertiveness might compensate you. You could find that the combo of reimbursement and your own write-offs can cover 100% of the income.
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Traci Sanders is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies. 

An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children’s, romance, and nonfiction guides.

Her ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through her own writing or editing works by other authors.

Giveaway!

I’ve decided to give away two prizes during this tour:
*ONE unsigned paperback copy of Before You Publish – Volume I 
*ONE unsigned paperback copy of Beyond The Book – Volume II 
To enter, all you have to do is email me a proof of purchase of a digital copy of either of these two books during the tour.
I will draw TWO winners total, at the end of the tour.
Please email your proof of purchase (can be a screenshot) to tsanderspublishing@yahoo.com.
GOOD LUCK!

Bonus: Video Tip!

Writers: Don’t Get Lost in the Traffic!

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Wrote a great book, did you? Looking for ways to reach readers, are you? Well, have I got the place for you. It’s called RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB! Yep! I’ve been telling you all about it for the past three-plus years.

And just what exactly is RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB? I’m glad you asked. RRBC is an online community of readers and writers whose sole goal is to support one another. Members buy, read, and review fellow members books. It’s what we do.

But wait!!! There’s more!!!

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By joining the RRBC community, you will have your book(s) placed in the club’s online catalog, making it available to the entire membership (currently at just under 400). Those who choose to be supportive of fellow members will discover the perks of membership. Books of the Month? We select three titles and promote them on Twitter, blogs, and Facebook each and every month. Many club members purchase these titles and review them.

Spotlight Author? Well, let me explain it to you. When chosen to stand in the spotlight, the author embarks on a month-long journey that includes wicked Twitter support, a blog tour, a seat on the shelf with club President Nonnie Jules (chit-chatting about you and your book), and a live interview on one of the RRBC Blog Talk Radio programs.

Look, most of us here are writers. We understand the marketing struggles indie authors face in today’s world. RRBC is meant to be a tool for the writer. But it requires more than just signing up. Support is vital. Those who don’t support, well, they receive little support themselves. It is through support that members become familiar with the names of fellow members. Marketing, branding — this is a foothold, an opportunity to meet other authors who also happen to be readers. This is the writer’s chance to build a foundation on which to establish their work.

If it sounds like something you may be interested in, stop by the RRBC site and have a look around. It only costs $25 per year.

Click here to visit the RRBC SITE!

Writing the (Almost) Perfect Book Review

Today we will take a look at what goes into writing the (almost) perfect book review. Nothing is ever really perfect, but those imperfections should never be an excuse for being unprofessional or rude.

Okay, so you’re new to the fine art of writing book reviews. Maybe you’re not quite sure how to go about sharing that incredible (or terrible) story you just finished reading (or couldn’t force yourself to read the entire thing). The hope here is that perhaps we can shed some light on approaching the task—regardless of your feelings toward the book in question.

Book reviews are opinions and nothing else. But these are valued opinions (when done correctly) that can guide readers to—or away from—an author’s hard work. Opinions will always vary when it comes to books, movies, restaurants, or anything else that is often the target of reviews. I may not have enjoyed the mashed potatoes at Cracker Barrel, but those same spuds may stir recollections of Granny’s home-cooked Sunday dinners from way back in another patron. So does that make my opinion any greater than another’s? Not a chance. My opinion is just an option for those reading reviews of dinner choices at the local Cracker Barrel.

But this presentation isn’t about culinary creativity. We’re here to discuss books and the reviews we seek to write. I’ve written over a hundred book reviews and dozens of concert and record album reviews. Book reviews (and movie reviews) are a different breed from other write-ups in that there are certain things of which you need to be aware when sharing your thoughts on the latest novel you’ve read.

The first (and most important) item to remember is: NO SPOILERS! Not even with a “spoiler alert” attached to the front end of your review. If there’s a twist at the end of the story that really blew your mind, then please allow the next mind to be equally blown. I hate it when such things are divulged—even with a warning. I may choose to not read beyond the warning, but that doesn’t mean a friend will stop at that point. This friend then decides to bring up the twist as I’m mentioning the new book I just added to my Kindle.

I call to mind the first time I saw the movie The Others. I hadn’t even heard of this film prior to my viewing it one lazy afternoon. I remember thinking that the film trotted along at a rather slow pace—so much so that I nearly turned the channel. I’m glad I didn’t. As the film progressed, I became even more invested. And as it reached its conclusion, POW! I honestly did not see that twist coming. And thankfully, I was able to be floored by the brilliance of the writing and the acting because nobody spoiled it for me.

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I’ve read the novel Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock. This wonderful story contains a twist at the end that spins the entire story into a whole new perspective from the one through which I’d viewed it right up to the final two chapters. Good writers will do these things. Good reviewers will leave those things hidden, allowing the next readers to discover those gems for themselves. So please leave the spoiler alerts out of your reviews.

The next thing to keep in mind is: DITCH THE PLAY-BY-PLAY! A review is never meant to be an outline spilling plot details. Neither is it supposed to be a road map through the story. If I can gather most of what’s going on between those book covers from your review, what reason do I have in investing money and time in reading it for myself? This only serves to cheat the reader out of a good read, and it snuffs out a sale for the author.

A well-written review will give us just a taste of the plot, a glimpse into the lives of the characters, and offer opinions on whether or not the author has what it takes to tell a fine story. It should be a critique of story and style.

This leads us to another very important point: ATTACKING CONTENT MISSES THE MARK! Okay, so what exactly am I talking about? Saying you didn’t like the story in question because the girl was raped or a child died says more about the reviewer than it says about the book. If we’re voracious readers, we’ll eventually run into a story that may, at points, make us feel uncomfortable. My skin was crawling at times while reading The End of Alice by A. M. Homes. It’s a dark read, this story. But Miss Homes is one of my favorite writers. Her stories are vivid with living characters. She, as a writer, is skilled at yanking the reader from his or her comfort zone. The best writers are able to do these things without a second thought.

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The End of Alice is a bestseller. I mention this only because, as such, there are quite a few reviews for this work. The titles of some of those reviews posted on Amazon are rather telling. Beautifully Disturbing; Disgusting, But Impossible to Forget; Fascinating, Frustrating and Disappointing—but Unforgettable. Most opinions of this book award four and five stars—even though many of these reviewers found the story quite disturbing. Then there are those who simply attack the content and do all they can to steer potential readers away from this work.

Did the writing captivate you? Are the characters believable? What sort of emotions did you experience while reading? Did the author pull you out of your comfort zone? Is it a well-written story without punctuation or spelling errors? Did you care about the characters or were they worthy of being hated? These are the sorts of questions we should ponder while determining our opinions of the works of others.

Not all reviews warrant four and five stars. But that’s not license to attack an author’s work either. An honest review should be constructive in its criticism, not destructive. Social media is rife with mean and nasty comments that are designed to tear down rather than build up. Take into consideration the author may learn something from your review, and thus become a better writer because of you! Be honest, be tactful, be kind—even if it’s a 1, 2, or 3 star review. If you don’t like a particular story, explain the reasons behind your opinion.

As reviews coordinator for RRBC, I’ve heard from members who found issues with books they’ve read. They tell me they feel guilty writing a one or two star review. Well, if that’s their honest opinion, then that’s what they should award. I challenge them to offer the author—as well as potential future readers—an explanation on why they arrived at this rating. Are there punctuation problems? Plot holes? Is the story just too unbelievable? Share these details—but do so in a way that teaches. Be encouraging rather than discouraging.

And finally, when posting your reviews, be sure to proofread before sharing with the world via Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Nothing is quite as ridiculous as a critique of another’s work in a review filled with misspellings, missing or poor punctuation, and sentences that make little or no sense at all. If need be, allow another pair of eyes to do the proofreading for you—before you hit the post button. Your words represent you as a writer—whether they’re reviews, blog articles, essays, or novels. Always strive to make a strong impression. And remember, writing reviews is another way to make connections in the indie author world. If you’re needlessly harsh in your criticisms, that’s a reflection on you.

 

RRBC Book & Blog Block Party

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Greetings and welcome to Rave Reviews Book Club’s BACK-TO-SCHOOL BOOK & BLOG BLOCK PARTY at The Indie Spot!  Location: Lansing, Michigan, USA.

Blog Party 1

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Here’s What I’m Giving Away Today:

** PRIZES HAVE ALREADY BEEN AWARDED**

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I invite you to check out my books and the book trailers that go with each title. I’ve included an excerpt of Jazz Baby and a short blurb for each book to help you become better acquainted with the stories!

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Jazz Baby Chapter Four Excerpt

722 Dauphine Street promised little in the way of excitement—from outward appearances. What once had been a Digby’s Department Store now went by the somewhat famous Crescent Club.

Revelers of every color, size, and persuasion lined the sidewalk out front, passing around flasks of bootleg hooch, eager for the doors to swing open so nighttime could finally begin.

Nobody paid us any mind as Tanyon and I split the crowd on our way down a side alley leading to the rear entrance.

Tanyon laid a coded knock against the heavy red door.

A fella’s chubby face filled the small peephole.

“I have Miss Teegarten with me,” said Tanyon to the man.

That door swung wide; entrance was granted.

Dozens of round tables lay scattered willy-nilly throughout the cavernous main room. A wide stage rose five feet above the floor. Four colored boys worked up a number I could sing in my sleep.

I said, “I’m ready,” drinking in a dream fixin’ to come true.

That chubby fella let go a laugh. “How’s about we open for business before you get started, huh?”

Waitresses lit candles and set ashtrays on each of those tables.

Tanyon snatched the one closest to the stage, and ordered a pint of bourbon from a dark-haired girl dressed out like a flapper.

“Tell me something,” I began to say.

’Cept Tanyon, he had an answer all lined up. “Your mama was not a whore—if that’s what you’re meaning to know.”

Fine enough by me.

Even if I really didn’t believe him.

Frank Rydekker himself brought Tanyon’s pint to our table. “So this is the little songbird,” said the short, stocky man, pulling me into a splash of orange glowing off a candle. “Can you sing any of these songs?”

My eyes tumbled down the list he presented. “I can sing ’em all,” I gladly admitted.

Rydekker nodded toward a big fella up near the bar and hollered, “Let ’em in, Bill!”

“Don’t be scared, Baby,” Tanyon said, handing me a go at that pint.

I raised the hooch to my lips, had a good pull. “Don’t call me Baby anymore.”

*      *      *

Cool blue dripped onto the stage from lights burning high above.

My body stood in its gathering puddle.

A boy on drums got us going with a slow shuffle that took up with the bass like a couple of long-time lovers knowing each other’s next move before it’s even been considered. Sullum Cass kissed his shiny saxophone with the breath of something painful and delicious, tossing delicate notes into the smoky air. When the boy on piano sprinkled all the right keys into the mixture, I eased my body against that skinny silver microphone stand, closed my eyes to the fractured night, and told all about that man done me wrong.

Everybody on that parquet dance floor caught on real quick. It’s me they stared at.

Me!

Emily Ann Teegarten.

And wasn’t a single one gave a tinker’s damn about my age or my station in life. Faces opened in welcoming smiles as wicked rhythms spun us all toward a whole new place—a place tucked up high as heaven.

Bodies shimmied and twirled at my feet.

One song blurred into another with nary enough time to breathe.

If I’d dropped dead then and there on that Big Easy stage, I’d have no real complaints. I reckon I’d tell the first angel I set eyes on I’d lived a full life.

I lived out my dream.

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Jazz Baby

A+ Jazz Baby 2 Front Cover

While all of Mississippi bakes in the scorching summer of 1925, sudden orphanhood wraps its icy embrace around pretty Emily Ann “Baby” Teegarten, a young teen.

Taken in by an aunt bent on ridding herself of this unexpected burden, Baby Teegarten plots her escape using the only means at her disposal: a voice that brings church ladies to righteous tears, and makes both angels and devils take notice. “I’m going to New York City to sing jazz,” she brags to anybody who’ll listen. But the Big Apple—well, it’s an awful long way from that dry patch of earth she’d always called home.

So when the smoky stages of New Orleans speakeasies give a whistle, offering all sorts of shortcuts, Emily Ann soon learns it’s the whorehouses and opium dens that can sidetrack a girl and dim a spotlight…and knowing the wrong people can snuff it out.

Jazz Baby just wants to sing—not fight to stay alive.

Click here to view the Jazz Baby book trailer

Click here to buy Jazz Baby

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Slivers of Life: A Collection of Short Stories

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These twenty short stories are a peek into individual lives caught up in spectacular moments in time. Children, teens, mothers, and the elderly each have stories to share. Readers witness tragedy and fulfillment, love and hate, loss and renewal. Historical events become backdrops in the lives of ordinary people, those souls forgotten with the passage of time. Beem Weeks tackles diverse issues running the gamut from Alzheimer’s disease to civil rights, abandonment to abuse, from young love to the death of a child. Long-hidden secrets and notions of revenge unfold at the promptings of rich and realistic characters; plot lines often lead readers into strange and dark corners. Within Slivers of Life, Weeks proves that everybody has a story to tell—and no two are ever exactly alike.

Click here to view the Slivers of Life book trailer

Click here to buy Slivers of Life

Once again, thank you for stopping by. Don’t forget to share your thoughts and comments below.  Good luck on winning my giveaways!  I’ll see you at the next stop of this awesome BOOK & BLOG BLOCK PARTY!

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Writing Less To Say More!

Indie author Kim Cox is standing in the Rave Reviews Book Club Spotlight! I invite you to discover this talented writer in her own words! Take it away, Kim…

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Last month I read a few articles about writing less to say more. I’ve come a long way but I still struggle with this. Writing a story came much easier before I learned so many rules about it.

Okay, I’m from the south, born and raised in North Carolina. I’ve lived in the southeast of the United States all my life. I moved to the western part of the state about twenty-seven years ago. I now live in the North Carolina mountains. People move here from everywhere. Most of those I work with lived somewhere else, Texas, New York, and Virginia are three of the places I know for sure.

Being southern, I naturally love to use lots of words to get my point across. I don’t really write flowery or try to use big words but I do talk and write in a wordy manner. Why use two words when I can use five or ten instead. For example, I used to say (until someone made fun of me), “I need to go do that now or I’ll be forgot.” Trying it again in a shorter manner, “I need to do that now before I forget.” Even shorter. “I’m doing it now.” See how easy that was. Not really but you get the idea.

In other words, coming from the south, I grew up in a passive speaking atmosphere. I try my best to write active instead. I even try to talk better.

At work, I write in a business manner, so I’m forever changing the words “You need to” or “You should” to “This needs to be” or “This should be” in order to not come off to others as accusatory.  So, sometimes I have to use more words than are needed to not sound harsh to the person I’m trying to train or explain something to. This doesn’t help my fiction writing where I need to write shorter and less stilted. Business writing is formal, especially the reports I have to write.

Does anyone have a trick they use to keep their writing short and less wordy?

For more information on the subject of Writing Less to Say More:

Write Less, Say More: The Power of Brevity

How to write less and say more

Embracing Brevity: How to Write Less and Say More

Saying It Short: A ‘Less Is More’ Guide to Effective Writing

About Kim Cox

KC - Author PhotoKim Cox is an author of Paranormal, Mystery, Suspense and Romance. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina with her chain saw artist husband, their West Highland White Terriers–Scooter and Harley, and a Yorkie mix, Candi. Kim is published in novels, short stories and articles.

Sign up for Kim’s Readers List for exclusive information, new releases, contests, giveaways, and free books.

Visit her at the following sites:

Author’s Website: http://www.kimcoxauthor.com

Blogs: Kim’s Musings, Kim’s Author Support Page

Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/kimcox

Social Media locations:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kimcoxauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KimCoxAuthor

Google: https://plus.google.com/+KimCoxAuthor/posts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/kimcox

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kimwrtr/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimwrtr

ALL THIS TIME

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Style & Profile Series – Book 1

At thirty, Jenny Morgan’s biological clock is ticking. But as a fashion magazine CEO with a busy schedule and no significant other, her wish is unlikely to come true. When her father receives a potentially terminal diagnosis, he longs for a grandchild before he dies. With her religious beliefs, a sperm donor isn’t an alternative. Jenny’s only immediate available option is her single co-worker and best friend, Trevor Drake. Can she really trust him to be a good husband?

Trevor has loved Jenny since college, but she only sees him as a friend with no ambition. After he learns of her predicament, he proposes and sets out to prove he can provide everything she needs. Jenny is determined to have a prenuptial agreement with an “out” clause after one year. Can Trevor convince Jenny of his love by then?

As if they don’t have enough on their plate, someone at the magazine is out to stop their wedding and their impending parenthood, and destroy the magazine’s reputation. Jenny is nearly killed in a sabotage attempt. Can Jenny and Trevor to make a life together while uncovering a common enemy?

Available now in print and electronic formats through Amazon Kindle and Amazon Print,  24Symbols, Barnes & Noble Nook, iTunes iBook, Kobo, and Page Foundry.

Read more . . .

Coming up next in the Style & Profile series, book two, BEFORE WE WED: With her family visiting from Atlanta, Sarah Martin is left at the altar when her fiancée, Jon Clayton, is carried off in handcuffs for running a car theft ring. Is Jon being guilty or being framed? If was frame, can Sarah find out who’s behind it without getting herself killed?

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When Does It End? (And Other Writing Matters!)

Writing entertaining stories and articles takes skill and know-how. But there’s more to writing than simply constructing sentences, scenes, and characters—though these are worthy and necessary talents to possess.

Outlining helps keep the plot in place. An outline is merely a road map meant to guide the author from the beginning of the journey to its ultimate climax many chapters later. An outline allows for travelers (both writer and reader) to exit the highway and visit attractions found in that area between start and finish.

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Creating characters that are compelling and alive will ensure the reader retains interest throughout the story. This is perhaps the most important aspect of telling a great story: If your characters are dull and lifeless, than so too will be your story. The only good dead characters are zombies and vampires.

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Okay, so you’ve outlined your story. You’ve developed believable characters that you can actually hear inside your head. They have personality and charm; they can even make your readers laugh or cry or feel anger. You sit at your desk (or wherever it is you feel most comfortable) and you begin your story. This is actually the easy part. The scenes unfold with ease as your fertile imagination gives birth to word combinations that nobody else has considered. Time ceases its existence. Days blur into weeks, weeks run together forming months. Before you know it, the journey is almost over.

Next on the itinerary is the ending. That perfect place to bring the characters, the plot, and the months of your hard work to its ultimate close.

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But how and when and under what circumstances will this story end? The ending can make or break a story. A misplaced ending will sink even the best stories. So how do we decide on the finish line? That is something the author should always have figured out before putting the very first sentence onto the page. You should know exactly where you are going before you load the kids, the dog, and suitcases in the car and jump onto the highway. The getting there, those spaces in between start and finish, are open to changes and tinkering along the way. The ending is something that must stand out. It is the very last moments of your creation. It’s what remains with readers in their immediate memories. An ending that lingers and comes back to a reader without invitation is usually the best sort of finish.

Road ends

There really is no stock answer for a proper ending. Some authors prefer to tie up all loose ends, leaving little to ponder—Jimmy and Thelma eloped and ran off to Fiji, where they grew old together and lived happily ever after. However, some authors choose to leave endings loose and open to interpretation—Jimmy and Thelma ran away together, but did they marry? Did they ever get to Fiji? Or did they decide on Hawaii, because Jimmy had gone there as a child and had always dreamed of returning?

By tying up loose ends, the author signals closure to this particular journey. By leaving ends dangling in the breeze, this invites readers to become part of the journey. We get to decide what has happened to these characters that we’ve invested time into getting acquainted. Neither way is wrong.

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When do we end our story and prep it for that first rewrite? Only the author will truly know that answer. Have your characters and plot line arrived at that point you imagined before beginning? Is Disney World in sight? Check the map; make sure your destination isn’t supposed to be the Eiffel Tower. If everything feels right, go back to the beginning and start that rewrite! Most importantly, have fun.