The winners in the Flash Fiction Contest have been notified. Check your email to see if you are one of them! Names and stories will be published here by the end of the week, after all five winners have confirmed their winning notice. Prizes will also be sent out once I have confirmations from all five.
I intended to get this information out sooner, but have been preoccupied with doctors and tests at the hospital after a fall I had on Sunday. Everything is OK now, so I can start moving ahead.
More information to come . . .
These first weeks in 2014 have been challenging for me. I am at a crossroads in my career and have decided, after a great deal of thought, to finally take the steps down a slightly different road. I mentioned some of the changes I was contemplating the last time I posted, and now I have solidified those changes.
The final issue of Excellent Writing, the newsletter for the Center for Writing Excellence, will be published on March 3. The winners of the Flash Fiction contest held in January will be announced and prizes will be distributed at that time.
The January contest will also be the last contest we offer. The contests have been great fun, I have met a lot of wonderful writers through them, and the judges have done an exemplary job evaluating the work of so many talented writers, but the time has come to move on.
The Center for Writing Excellence will still be here, but our focus is changing to encompass more editing and publishing. For more information on the editing services we offer, click here: Services or on the Services tab above. For more information on the publishing options available, click here: Publishing, or on the Publishing tab above.
We have also shortened the Novella class from an eight-week course to a more compact four-week online course. You and a friend can take this class together for the price of one enrollment. Check out Write Your Novella in 30 Days for more information. The course starts March 23.
On May 17 we will offer the Self-Publishing workshop again. This workshop will give you some excellent tools to self-publish your own book, or to help you decide whether or not you want the Center for Writing Excellence to publish it for you!
I will be posting here on the blog site once a week or so, providing information about editing, publishing, and other writing related topics. I will also be looking for guest bloggers on these topics, so if any of you have something you would like to write about in 400-500 words, please contact me, either through the comments below or at email@example.com.
Happy Writing Everyone!
Over the next several months there will be some significant changes made to the Center for Writing Excellence. I want to concentrate more on editing and publishing so have decided to set the Center up as a book publishing company. To that end I will be offering customized services for writers who have a manuscript ready to publish. Services will be offered ‘cafeteria style’ and include:
- Interior Formatting/Design
- Cover Design
- Obtaining ISBN
- Distribution through POD printing
Watch this space for more information on this new adventure.
In order to prepare for the publishing arm of the Center, I am going to put the newsletter on hiatus. The Flash Fiction contest will run for the last time in April.
The other major focus of the Center will be the courses, both the 8-week online courses and the Webinars with both local and online participation. I am also thinking about adding some shorter online workshops and welcome any suggestions for topics.
Your support over the past four years has been amazing and I have met some wonderful people all around the country. I hope to continue the relationship we have built.
Onward, writers! New goals, new heights are out there, let’s go get them!
In the past,self-publishing, also known as Vanity Press Publishing, was difficult, expensive, and held a stigma for ‘real’ writers. Fortunately, that image is changing. With Print on Demand (POD) options, the expense of self-publishing has diminished significantly.
- A time lag of sometimes more than 18 months before the book actually appears on shelves.
- Holding physical book signings in local bookstores – sometimes with very few sales.
- Hoping for some media attention from the review copies that were distributed.
- Sitting at home waiting for the royalty checks to start coming in.
Typically, royalties are small, with the publishing house taking a big chunk, along with agents, editors, and others, leaving very little to the writer. The dreams of huge advances are rarely realized in today’s publishing world except by writers with established fan bases. More often, the publishing house will want the writer to go out and build his or her own platform before coming to the publisher. There are isolated incidences of big advances for unknown writers, and we applaud those authors, but we also need to be realistic when it comes to actually landing one of those contracts.
Things that have changed with the advent of POD self-publishing include much faster print to shelf time, larger royalties, and more work for the writer beyond the actual writing. As a self-published author, you create your own brand, build your own platform, and do your own selling and marketing. Yes, it is more work, but if done right, it will be more rewarding.
The writer is at the very center of the platform. He or she can determine just how far to go. Adding in a website or blog is the start of the marketing process. Every writer who wants to sell his or her work needs a website or blog to create the brand, present information about the book, offer incentives, and interact with his or her audience. Social media like Twitter, FaceBook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and others are excellent ways to spread the word and grow an audience.
As more and more people opt for self-publishing, the stigma is decreasing, but it is still important to create self-published books that look professional, and are grammatically correct. One of the reasons for the negative opinions about self-publishing is the fact that the product itself may not look professional. You, the writer, can ensure your books do look professional with good editing, an enticing cover, and professionally presented content. POD printers all offer editing and marketing services, or you can choose to take on those activities yourself.
The bottom line with POD publishing is YOU have control. For more information on how to self-publish your books, plan on attending the Self-Publishing: Are You Ready webinar on May 17.
Do you have your 2014 Writing Goals outlined yet? The Center for Writing Excellence has some exciting opportunities for you to help jump-start your projects.
To start off, we have a very exciting, interactive 8-week class on Dialog starting tomorrow (January 12). The Dialog-Breathing Life Into Your Writing class is an excellent opportunity for you to learn how to help your characters speak to each other in ways that are believable. Like our Facebook page (Center for Writing Excellence) and you can take advantage of the 15% discount offered on the registration page. We also have a payment plan option (1/3 down, 1/3 halfway through, and 1/3 at the end of the course).
Another fun way to get your muse started is to participate in the Flash Fiction contest:
- Contest starts at 10:00pm (Mountain Time) on Friday, January 17, 2014.
- Contest ends at 10:00pm (Mountain Time) on Sunday, January 19, 2014.
- Contestants will have 48 hours to write and submit a flash fiction story of 300-500 words based on a single prompt.
- Cash prizes available for the top FIVE entries!
- Entry fee is only $4.00 for one $6.00 for two entries.
And, to round out our first month of Writing fun is a Webinar on January 25. This is a 3-hour session called Self-Publishing – Are You Ready?.
How to publish and promote your book using the latest Indie book publishing techniques. The entire process from your word processor to a real book in hand. Even if you don’t have a manuscript ready yet, this workshop will give you the tools necessary to publish when you are ready. Fiction, non-fiction, ebook, or print, this workshop will help you get your book into your reader’s hands.
The Webinar starts at 9:00am (Mountain Time) and ends about noon. The fee is $39, but if you register before January 20, you can take $5 off. OR, LIKE our Facebook page and you can take advantage of the C4WE Discount and pay only $30!
If your book is already written and you are in need of an editor, we also offer Editing Services:
The Center for Writing Excellence will edit your books, novels, and short stories. We will check for grammar, spelling and punctuation errors as well as review for content. The technical review will look for consistency in voice, tense, and syntax. The content review will examine relationships between characters, looking for consistency in behavior, etc. It will also cover things like errors in time frame, reliability of ‘facts’ and ‘believability’ of actions, dialogue, etc. Comments will be provided on plot and characters as well as in an overall critique of the work. Qualify for up to a 15% discount (information available on Website.)
Lots to do – I better get busy! Hope to see all of you in one or more of the C4WE events!
Some of you may have seen my note about this on FaceBook – but I think it is good enough to share again. I was going through a box of old papers I found in the back of my closet the other day when I came across a real find. Apparently my Uncle Gerald kept a log of the time he spent in the Navy during WWII. Another uncle found the log after Gerald passed away in 2002 and he and his wife transcribed the hand-written diary. They then sent copies of it to my mother. Mom must have put away her copy and when she passed in 2004 I got a box of her old papers, which then migrated to the back of my closet.
Now I have the diary. It starts in January, 1944 and ends in March, 1946, about three years before I was born. Several pages are one line entries:
January 23, 1944: Left San Francisco
February 1, 1944: Arrived at Pearl Harbor
Others contain a bit of narrative:
February 28, 1945: Back at Saipan. It certainly took us a long time to come from Iwo. We made 5 or 6 knots all the way.
Still other entries are much more descriptive of what he was doing:
March 4, 1945: Arrived at Iwo Jima. gave some ships mail we brought from Saipan. We went real close to Iwo. In fact we were so close we could see people walking around and hear small anus [sic] being fired. We could see a lot of wreckage on the Island I would hate to live on it. It is a very desolate looking place. I couldn’t see any trees on it. All I could see is a tundra like growth, volcanic ash, rock. Patrolling rest of day & night.
So now, the question is, what to do with this? There are several of the very descriptive entries so I am thinking about maybe doing some research and creating a story based on his notes. It needs editing, but just the entries alone might make an interesting first person account of being on a minesweeper in the Pacific Ocean during the war.
I know I have been given a priceless gift and want to honor my uncle, his service, and the family by writing his story.
Have any of you ever found something like this? What did you do with it?
Good morning! We have a new course debuting at the Center for Writing Excellence in January! This course, Dialog – Breathing Life Into Writing, was developed by Dr. Luccia Rogers, one of the judges from our Genre Contest.
This course will give writers tools to help them write dialogue without over-writing it. Participants will learn to write dialogue that comes from the character, not from their own personal agendas for the story. They will also learn that writing dialogue is fun once they let themselves relax and exercise their freedom to expand their horizons through their characters’ voices.
I have attached a podcast about dialog that I created earlier this year as an introduction to a previous course on dialog. It is a great way to introduce Luccia’s new course. Click the link here to download, watch, and listen to the presentation: Creating Realistic Dialogue.
You can register for the 8-week, online course here: Dialog-Breathing Life Into Writing. The course starts on January 12 an runs through March 8. There are reading and writing assignments due each week, along with discussions in the course bulletin board.
What about the ending?
It is difficult to end a short story, and many writers struggle with this part of the writing. Don’t overwrite the ending, either. Make your point and end it. Sometimes a short story ends with the story up in the air – without really giving the reader the answer to the conflict presented in the story. If you do this, be careful that you are not just stopping the story because you came to the end of the word requirement.
Make your story unique, don’t write the same old story, same tired clichés.
- Stay away from melodramatic, overwritten stories with corny endings
- Make the story memorable – something the reader will not say “So what?” after reading.
Things that will kill the sale quicker than anything:
- Spelling, grammar mistakes
- Unnatural dialogue – make it real and natural
- Conflicting plots or themes – it’s a short story – keep it on track
- Too much history – again it’s a short story – keep the back-story to a minimum
Good morning everyone! It is Fall in Arizona, the temps are going to be delightful today. November in Arizona is weather bragging time!
I also have some great news for those of you who have a Kindle and did not get a chance to pick up the Third Annual Fiction Anthology yet. Starting Saturday morning, December 10, the Anthology is going on a special new promotion by Amazon called the Kindle Countdown Deal. Here is how it works: For the week starting November 10 at 8:00AM PST the Anthology will be offered at a deep discount, starting at $1.99 for the first 39 hours. Every 39 hours later the price goes up $1, until the price reaches $4.99 in the final 39 hours of the countdown week. The price goes back to the original $6.99 once the week is over. Get in early on this deal!
And now, for the feature story today: How to Create a Family Anthology.
A perfect Holiday gift for your family is a compilation of their work, whether it is poetry, painting, or writing. My family has poets, writers, and artists – and one year for Christmas, I compiled all their work into one bound anthology that they will treasure forever!
Start by contacting your family members and asking for copies of anything they wish to include in the anthology. I got photos, drawings, poetry, short stories, essays, school papers, letters, even a script for a play!
Do some Internet research on your family name. I found interesting facts about the origins of our name in Scotland, including images of the family crest.
Sort through all the artifacts sent by your family members and categorize them. Create an outline by category and author name. For example, I had four family members submit poetry so I started with the Poetry category, then listed each family member name and the poems he or she submitted.
Write the introduction, including the reasons for writing the anthology, and highlighting some of the pieces and photos to follow in the book. The introduction should encourage the reader to read the rest of the anthology through descriptive phrases about the works included.
Scan in the photos and artwork, keeping them in a folder that is easy to access when working on the book. Include the graphic pieces as stand-alone pieces or as illustrations for the written work. For example, on the page with my mother’s poem titled “My Past” I include a photo of mom as a young woman.
Enter all the written submissions, the poems, short stories, school papers, etc. As you type them in the Word processing document, keep in mind the order as already presented in the outline. Use the Styles in Word to create headings, which later will be used to insert the Table of Contents. Some of the pieces I received were so interesting in their original format (the poem my kids wrote the year I turned 30 for example) that I scanned them in and used the image instead of typing in the text.
Write the conclusion. This can be a wrap up of the content of the anthology or, in my case, this is where I wrote up the history of our family name. I used the Internet research, including web references so the family could look up more information if they so desired. I also included more graphic images that were related to the family name.
Insert the rest of the artwork at the appropriate places in the body of the anthology, with captions explaining what it is, who created it, and how it fits into the text, if it does. This step is important; it is the one that starts you working on the layout of the anthology.
Continue formatting, adding artwork, and editing the anthology. When you are finished with the body, go back and enter a footer with auto pagination and then insert the Table of Contents, using the Automatic Table of Contents feature in Word.
Choose a title and cover image for the anthology. I chose the title of my favorite poem by my mother, “Picking Dandelions” and added the sub-title “A Clan Johnston Anthology” to highlight our Scottish heritage. I asked the artist in my family to read the poem and create the image for the cover.
Choose an image for the back cover. In this case, I choose a recent photo of the family from a reunion. I also added a photo of the family crest.
This is the printing stage. You can take it to your local copy shop, which can turn out to be pretty expensive. An option is to have it self-published using Create Space or Lulu or any of the other Print on Demand self-publishing websites. If you would like to know more about Self-Publishing, you can attend my workshop on December 14. Self-Publishing, Are You Ready? The workshop is online for those of you outside of Phoenix. Locals can attend in person.
- My family members said they laughed and cried as they read the anthology. It was a huge success and I am thinking of doing it again, using recipes or travel as the theme.
Happy Writing, everyone!
Third person omniscient point of view is a technique frequently used by 19th Century Writers. Although this POV is not as common with today’s fiction writers, it is still a technique that can be employed effectively as long as the writer keeps some things in mind. As the word ‘omniscient’ implies, this POV means that the narrator can be in the heads of all the characters, not just one, as in close third person POV.
Victorian writers felt that they needed to explain in detail how the reader was to interpret the actions, view the characters, and understand the story. Sometimes the narrators (writers) even inserted themselves into the story by using the personal pronoun “I” to comment on the action.
Using omniscient POV will create a greater distance between the character and the reader, thus forcing the reader to look at a broader view of the story. The author also has more control of the story, and guiding its meaning.
There are some pitfalls to using omniscient POV, including:
- Fragmentation of the story because of writer commentary inserted throughout.
- The reader is further from the story than he or she would be with either first or third person.
If you choose to use omniscient POV, keep the following things in mind:
- Decide on the how much omniscient POV you want to use.
- Set up the omniscient POV early in the story.
If you are interested in learning more about POV, we do have a course at the Center for Writing Excellence called Characters, POV, and Emotion. This is an online course, eight weeks long, with a weekly commitment of a couple of hours whenever you can fit them in throughout the week. The next section is not until next June, but you can check out other courses in our catalog if you are interested.
Have a great week writing!