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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Authors, Here's an Opening Paragraph Example

I mentioned this in a post months ago and bemoaned not being able to find the one I sought. Well, in printing out my WIPs, and thereafter reading them, I found it!

So, courtesy of one of Sandy Blair's wonderful online classes (SandyBlair.net), here it is, a fantastic opening paragraph example:
Chapter 1
Spring 1411
While smoke from a dozen rush torches wafted about the rafters like worried ghosts, Ian MacKay studied the men and women milling about Stirling's great hall. Each, he'd decided long ago, was either flint or kindling. Each, whether they kenned it or not, had the capacity to turn Scotland into a raging inferno.
Something he'd willingly die to prevent.
Wow! Isn't that amazing what this brilliant author (also Sandy Blair, from her book A Thief in a Kilt) revealed to her reader with only sixty-three words.

Normally, we authors take longer to set up the integral who, what, when, where, why, howmuch less the hero's goal, his fears, planting seeds for the black moment. But this excerpt ups the ante for me.

Since I write contemporary, I don't have worlds to contend with per se. In fact, I consider my world pretty generic to any country or people as I deal with the universality of emotions. Therefore I don't always note the geographic locale. If I were a fantasy or sci-fi author, that would be more of an issue. A necessary character even. But not so much for my romance genre.

As a Deep South gal, I do have southern settings and, if not boldly declared, give hints with food, architecture, speech. But my stories could be had in a snowbound cabin in Oregon as well. I'm just not familiar with that part of our country, so I stick with what I know.

Anyway, I hope you love my example as much as I do. Better yet, I hope it spurs you on in your own writing.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Update on TBSS

I'm in the early part of Week 4 for me (counting the intro two weeks) or beginning Week 2 of the actual program following the transitory couple weeks, for which I see no real difference in execution. I'm still losing weight (even with one daily sweet event, usually midafternoon: the 80 percent chocolate, ginger tea with honey, or a few Gourmet Mints, but just once, I swear!). And that's along with the allowed berries daily.

Still I consider that a victory considering how many tablespoons of sugar I used to ingest each and every day. But, yes, I could be losing more faster if I was rigidly sticking to Dr. Hyman's plan. I realize that. And every morning, I say, today will be the day with no added sweets. It's just for six (five, four) more weeks.

Maybe I need an added transition period for dealing with my last bastion. But I can see me living like this, reduced sugars and all. So that is a roadside historical marker for me for sure.

I'm convinced great wondrous works are happening within my body that do not register on the scale. Our health should not be designated just by how much we weigh.

I'm sleeping a tad less and get by great on seven hours. My energy is the same or better. I've always been highly efficient, productive.

I'm satiated. Yet experiencing true hunger before I do eat.

I haven't had caffeine for three weeks and two days! But I am looking forward to having a cup of my favorie Café Bustelo espresso after the six weeks of the actual plan are over (eight weeks if you count the intro program), even if just every four days thereafter. Depends on any racing-heart symptoms.

My nighttime stuffiness/congestion continues to improve.

I'm not daily craving anything (other than my sugar hit). Not any fast foods. Not Dr. Pepper. Now that is good.

I'm surprised I can live without dairy.

And artisan bread.

I'm enjoying steamed veggies without butter, adding instead olive oil and/or toasted sesame oil.

My protein consumption has veered from beef to chicken and fish. My serving sizes for protein have shrunk. In fact, I eat more nuts and beans than white meat or seafood.

So what does my standard TBSS daily menu look like? Here it is:
  • To break the fast, I have three walnuts (helps ward off the charley horses at night) while I'm waiting on my decaf hazelnut coffee. I try to drink a glass of water each time I return to the kitchen to refill my coffee cup. I usually have iced green tea more in the afternoons.
  • Hours later (not according to Dr. Hyman's plan to have a real breakfast within an hour of rising) I have a really late brunch. I'm presently hooked on crispy fried onion slices in olive oil and two Omega 3 eggs scrambled with fresh tomato dices or Rotel tomatoes added.
  • Then sometime between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. I eat a final meal. (I have been going to bed earlier and therefore getting up earlier these past few weeks.) Lately, I've had the guacamole recipe with cumin from TBSS Cookbook. Love it! I add beans though to intro protein. I either mash up the bigger beans (like pintos), add some olive oil and mix in with my guacamole, or just rinse off a can of small black beans and add them as is. I've been making this daily, so the last time I made some, I doubled the recipe. It's great for any meal or a snack.
  • For snacks, I eat a handful of mixed nuts: almonds, pepitas and sunflower seeds. I try to save my allowed fruit for a midafternoon snack to sidestep any other sweet craving. Not working as I seem to crave the palate-cleansing fruit following my brunch.
  • Other nighttime meals have been a huge salad with nuts and my own lemon juice and EVOO dressing. Sometimes I add 1.5 ounces of tuna.
  • Last night it was part of one breast of roasted chicken and a plateful of steamed summer veggies (carrots, squash, zucchini).
  • Today I'm wanting salmon loaf (from canned wild-caught salmon) and will see if there is a way to prepare my recipe TBSS way.  Maybe using almond meal instead of white flour.
  • As far as supplements, I'm on the poor man's version. I already had fish oil capsules in the house, and now I am actually taking them with brunch.
  • What about exercise? I worked out one day. Total. Yeah, not according to Dr. Hyman's plan or my own. I'm trying to rectify that.
Still, with all my personal deviations from Dr. Hyman's stated plan, not to mention a weight-gaining hysterectomy in the mix, my faulty application of TBSS program works. Every week I've lost weight. In fact, I rewarded myself for staying on the intro part by buying two cute costume bracelets (one for each week and for $10 total). I'm intent on wearing them everyday now to reaffirm my past successes and to continue replicating them.

So reward yourself for your efforts and especially the results.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Friday, March 29, 2013

Why You Should Quit

Here is a link to wonderful article that I would recommend everyone read: http://www.insightoftheday.com/quotetext.asp?msgid=2310.

Courtesy of Bob Proctor's Insight of the Day.

Written by: Jason Leister.
Jason is a direct response copywriter, internet entrepreneur and editor of the daily e-letter, The Client Letter, where he empowers independent professionals who work with clients. He has six children and lives and works by the lake in Minnesota.


Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Do You Have WIPs or a Backlist?

"Backlist" refers to older traditional published works that are still available, not new releases (per Web11, but paraphrased in my own words). In this post, however, I'm using it more for an Indie's stockpile of stories not yet published.

For me, as of March 25, 2013, I had twelve WIPs (works in progress). In my mind, each was designated as a novel that I would finish when I had "free time." I had printed them all out earlier this year as a backup procedure mostly, but then I three-hole punched them, arranged each in its own notebook, noting the number of pages and the WC (word count) along with its working title on the spine.

Thereafter I ordered them per increasing WC. The shortest was twenty-five DS (double-spaced) pages, with the second longest my category of 50K and 285 DS pages (my 2011 NaNo project) and the longest being my mainstream of 92K WC and 432 DS pages.

Then it hit me. Those two finished first draft projects are designated by their length: category and mainstream. What if my shortest stories are actually that? Short stories.

As an Indie, there is nothing to stop meOR YOUfrom uploading a short story now and later turning it into a full-length novel if it tempts me/you so.

So that is what I have been doing. From 03.19 to 03.26, I spent forty-five hours finalizing my first three short stories (the shortest of my WIPs) and uploaded my first collection of them.

Now my WIPs total nine.

Beginning 03.28, I started working on my second collection of SSs (short stories). Yesterday, I reviewed the first one, found another notebook further down my stack that is actually more of this one but under another name (which brings my WIP count down to eight). Went through both the original story and its addenda, have a handle on what I need to accomplish to merge the two.

Today, I read through the next WIP. It needs more work to have a beginning, middle and end. But my subconscious mind knows to deal with that while I'm doing other things.

The last SS for this second collection, I plan to look over later today.

I've already prepared the cover for this one, and the front/back matter. My first collection had a total of 125 DS pp. This next one will incorporate 142 DS pp (as they currently stand; that page count may increase as I add stuff in, take stuff out).

The next three projects down the list (with 98, 140 and 162 DS pp, respectively, as is) may each be released as stand-alone novellas.

If it takes me forty-five hours for each 125-page segment (the length of the first collection and the time it took for that e-book compilation), then I need 9.5 weeks to finalize my WIPs.

Remember, I'm ALL INDIE. So that forty-five hours, while not including the original creation time involved for any of these writings, does count copyediting, proofreading, a "reader" read-through, design/production work, cover art work, front/back pages and actual uploading onto my three main platforms (Amazon, B&N and Kobo).

I am so looking forward to having all my WIPs moved over into the "completed" column.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

M. M. Pollard Online Workshop re Ten Sentence Patterns

I'm taking an online OCRWA class that is worth more than my investment of time and money. I find this teacher engaging, easy to follow and her subject matter interesting. M. M. Pollard (or MM as she prefers), dubbed the Queen of English, can be found here: http://queenofenglish.wordpress.com/workshops-with-mm-2013-schedule/.

The workshop title is a mouthful, called Stretching Sentences' Recipes and Mixing Up Sentence Ingredients to Create a Memorable Story. Part of this four-week class involves identifying parts of speech. Remember diagramming from your school days? As a copy editor aka grammar geek, I enjoyed that. Ha!

But what I sought, as an author, were the ten sentence structures (who knew?). Already into Sentence Pattern 8, I've noted at least two sentence forms are deemed better constructions.

Regardless, as creators, we need to keep our delivery fresh and nonrepetitive. Soon I will know all ten configurations and can ID which ones I use too much, which ones I should add more of.

Being a lifetime student and believing in ongoing education, I try to take one writing-related class a month. After the first couple years doing this, I'm not always able to find one now that works for me. So I was happy to see this class offered by MM.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor