Celebrate Spring – Let’s Pimp & Promote! – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

It’s been a hard winter. Let’s celebrate spring with a little “Pimp and Promote.” Of course, this always costs us some money, because we have to go out and buy lots of books. But now that it’s getting nice, we can find a tree to read under!

How does this work?

To quote the genie in Aladdin, “There are a few provisos, a couple of quid-pro-quos…”

  • Pimp out somebody else’s work – this can be a favorite author, blogger, post or book you’ve read, a wonderful teacher or just someone who had profound influence on you as a writer or a person. Please limit your comments to one work.
    AND
  • Promote one of your projects that you’re excited about – a hobby, a blog, a book, or a new direction your writing is taking you. You decide. Just tell us about it in the comments! (Please restrain your enthusiasm to just one of your WIPs.) The rest of us will jump in and “ooooh and ahh” at you, and likely promote your project even further because we’re just so darn excited today.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

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Using the KISS Method in Your Writing

I remember 9th grade English. This was the year where my high school began to concentrate on expanding the vocabulary of students. I remember the vocabulary workbooks where we had to focus on the spelling, definitions and usage of words.

We were encouraged to use these newly learned words in our daily conversation and, especially, in our writings.

I learned words like:

Dotard – A person, especially an old person, exhibiting a decline in mental faculties; a weak-minded or foolish old person. (I’m sensitive to this one these days).

Lugubrious – mournful, dismal, or gloomy, especially in an affected, exaggerated, or unrelieved manner.

Prestidigitation – sleight of hand; legerdemain. (Don’t you love it when two other rarely used words are part of the definition of a rarely used word?)

So, why am I going down memory lane to my high school studies? I learned and retained a lot of these words. You would think, as an author, that would be a great asset to my writing.

I would submit to you, this is not true. In fact, I am frustrated by books that cause me to look up the meanings of words or that use pretentious language.

Simplifying the Language in Your Writing

The heading is not meant to encourage you to write in a boring style limited to one syllable words. It’s more of a call to write in a simple, understandable language. This is especially true in dialog, but applies to all of your fiction writing and most non-fiction as well.

What I am encouraging is writing in plain, understandable language. This allows your reader to enjoy your story without having to struggle to understand word meanings and context.

I’m an IT guy in my day job. Many of the examples of confusing language that I’ve seen with unnecessarily confusing language appears in the manuals and help text written for technology. The main reason for this is that, traditionally, these documents were written by other technology people that were familiar with the technical jargon.

My writing delves into technology sometimes and my characters may be technical propeller-heads. I often use this as a source of humor and use that humor to explain to the reader what is being said. Here is a typical example:

Jonesy turned to Frank to tell him what he found as he hacked into the mob’s bank accounts.

“I was able to spoof the IP address and log in with a pseudo script using proxy credentials to gain access to the administrator rights,” Jonesy said as he clicked the keyboard frantically.

“That sounds great, I think,” Frank said. “How about giving that to me again in English.”

Jonesy looked up with a mixture of amusement and frustration at his partner’s lack of literacy in technology.

“I found the bad guy’s money and I now have access to it. Should we make it go bye, bye?”

“That’s better. Yes. Let’s make it go bye, bye,” Frank answered.

Sometimes you have to use jargon or terminology to give characters (and the author) credibility in what they’re writing. The example above is a simple way to explain it to your readers that may not have the same expertise.

Word Choice

This is an area where I struggle at times. I’ve spent much of my career writing business documents where formalized language is the norm. When I write fiction, I’ve found that I sometimes fall into that business vocabulary without realizing it. Here are some typical words that I’ve had to force myself to substitute.

Utilize – change to use.

Execute – change to perform or, even better, do.

Attempt – change to try.

You get the idea. These formalized words can be off-putting to readers.

Extra Words

This is something that Microsoft Word has helped me correct. It’s related to crutch words, but deals more with phrases or terms that we use that can be greatly simplified. Here are some examples:

All of a sudden – substitute suddenly.

Have to/Need to – substitute must.

At this point in time/At the present time – substitute now.

These are just some examples of the simplification that I have tried to bring to my writing. It’s a constant struggle as old writing habits are hard to overcome.

What about you? Do you have any examples of simplification that work for you?

KDP Print (formerly CreateSpace) vs. IngramSpark – From the Indies Unlimited Blog

Pixabay book-148200_640 (002)

Last month, I wrote a refresher post comparing Smashwords and Draft2Digital. This month, I think it’s probably time for a refresher post comparing KDP Print and IngramSpark.

First up, KDP Print

Owned by Amazon, KDP Print is possibly the most popular U.S. site for distributing self-published paperback books.

Pros:

  1. Publishing through KDP Print is free.
  2. The publication process is outlined in several easy-to-follow steps.
  3. KDP Print has a free online cover-creator. If one of their many templates doesn’t meet your needs, they also provide free downloadable cover templates you can use to build your own cover.
  4. Paper choices are either cream or white, and paperback cover finishes are either matte or glossy.
  5. KDP Print also provides free downloadable templates to ensure your manuscript is properly formatted for printing. (Note:  This template also works for IngramSpark.)
  6. KDP Print offers the option of using your own purchased ISBN or using a free one they provide.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

When is the Best Time of Year to Release a Book? – From the Self-Publishing Review Blog

When is the Best Time of Year to Release a Book?

Reading Calendar

In Hollywood, there’s a pretty set calendar for when movies are released: horror movies are usually released around Halloween, high-concept blockbusters in the summer, Oscar movies start in November, movies that aren’t blockbusters or Oscar contenders in February. Does the book trade follow the same release schedule? The answer is, more or less, yes.

Peak reading and buying season is very much tied to the weather. February and March are generally good times to release a book because the weather’s not great, so people will be stuck inside, browsing the web and looking for something to read. Generally, people won’t want to read a dark book when the sun’s shining.

However, though summer is blockbuster season, it’s also the time when people aren’t locked to their computers, so it makes some sense to release a genre novel in the spring, so momentum can hopefully carry over into the summer (this is what happened with Amanda Hocking, who released books in April before they took off).

Alan Rinzler, traditional publishing expert, has this calendar for the mainstream trade:

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Creating Compelling Cadence: Small Changes, Big Impact – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

Margie Lawson

Cadence counts. Truly counts.

You probably know you should read your work out loud. But do you?

And do you read it out loud with feeling?

Most writers don’t take the time to read their WIP out loud until they’re on a final draft.

Aack!

By then they’ve read most scenes at least a dozen times. Whatever they’ve written sounds normal to them, but the cadence may not be compelling.

Read my last sentence out loud:

Whatever they’ve written sounds normal to them, but the cadence may not be compelling.

Hear the compelling cadence?

The beats in the two halves of the sentence match. Sounds cool, right?

I named that structural parallelism. It makes the sentence cadence driven.

If you’ve heard me present, taken my online classes, done my lecture packets, or completed a 5-day Immersion class, you know I use examples to share my teaching points.

We’re diving in. Lots of compelling cadence ahead.

Please read the examples out loud, with feeling.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

Productivity Secrets: Bullet Journals and Planning — Guest: L. Penelope – From Jami Gold’s Blog

Open journal on a desk with text: Planning for Success

I don’t know a single person who isn’t so busy that they struggle to get everything done. So I love hearing about different productivity methods and tips.

When I saw L. Penelope talking on Instagram about how she uses bullet journals to increase her productivity, I knew I had to bring her here. I’ve heard a lot about bullet journals for health and habits, but I loved her perspective of using them for planning our writing.

She highly recommends Sarra Cannon’s 3-Day Planning Bootcamp (which has a session starting today!). In fact, I signed up for the class because everything in the “tell me if this sounds familiar” introduction spoke to me. Deeply. *sigh*

Whether you want to check out the class or not, Leslye’s insights here of how she uses bullet journals can help us plan for success. She’s sharing her ideas on how bullet journaling can help us improve our productivity and keep our sanity.

Please welcome L. Penelope! *smile*

*****

Plan Your Way to Productivity

By L. Penelope

I’m a list person. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved making lists. An affinity which grew into a love of spreadsheets and databases and organizing things. As an author who also runs a website development business, I have a ton of tasks to get through on any given day, and ruthlessly organizing my life has been the solution to keeping my sanity.

About two years ago, I discovered bullet journaling. Also known as BuJo, bullet journaling is a system created by author and designer Ryder Carroll to encourage focus and productivity. Basically, it’s a simple method to keep track of tasks, ideas, lists, and anything else you don’t want to forget.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

The Blank Page Holds No Fear For A Brave Writer – From the Just Publishing Advice Blog

The Blank Page

Every writer confronts the dreaded blank page

It is white, stark and for many writers and authors, downright intimidating.

Whether it is a fresh sheet of paper or a blank word processor template with its infuriating little flashing cursor, it is the same. You have nothing in front of your eyes except emptiness.

The blank page is the void into which the brave writer must always dive without fear or hesitation.

Just do it and fear not the result.

The only proven way to eliminate an empty white page is to overcome its fearsome superpowers by bravely and purposefully adding one letter, then one word and then one sentence.

When you take these three simple actions, you will have defeated the monster of nothingness.

Read the rest of this post HERE.