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Monday, April 29, 2013

A Quick Self-Esteem Boost for Authors

Earlier today I bumped my Kindle Boards'  feeds with this short note. Thought I would add it here into the data stream as well. Enjoy:

Get rid of distractions, diseases. That means paper clutter, mental clutter, TV clutter. That means toxic people, toxic jobs and toxic foods. Focus on what you want. Resources are not limited. Note the word "source" in "resource." You have within you what you need. Don't let external measurements (noting lack of time, money, awards, etc.) deter you from using the timeless gifts that only you can access—those within your heart, soul, mind. But don't be selfish. Share those with others.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

A Quote for Us Indies

I am thankful for all of those who said NO to me. It's because of them I’m doing it myself. Albert Einstein 

Don't ya just love it?

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Quote for America, for the World

With the recent tragedy at the Boston Marathon on my mind and in my prayers, I came across a special quote and am sharing it here for all of us.
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." Fred Rogers (1928-2003), educator, minister, songwriter, author and television host
The Bible speaks of us not knowing all until we reach heaven. I guess that means we will always have some unanswered questions in the meantime here on Earth. Don't lose faith. Good does overcome evil. 

We will see our loved ones again.

Denise Barker

Monday, April 15, 2013

How to Tell a Story: The Secrets of Writing Captivating Tales by Peter Rubie and Gary Provost

I’m rereading How to Tell a Story: The Secrets of Writing Captivating Tales by Peter Rubie and Gary Provost. While only halfway through, on page 95 of 199 total (not counting the appendices and index), I have already found many pieces of gold.

Published in 1998, this book contains universal rules at work.

For instance, there is this great “Gary Provost Sentence” that has been expanded into the “Gary Provost Paragraph” which delineates all the plot points for your story. It’s an awesome tool. Here it is (plot points underlined):

Once upon a time, something happened to someone, and he decided that he would pursue a goal. So he devised a plan of action and, even though there were forces trying to stop him, he moved forward as there was a lot at stake. And just when things seemed as bad as they could get, he learned an important lesson, and when offered the prize he had so strenuously sought, he had to decide whether or not to take it, and in making that decision, he satisfied a need that had been created by something from his past.

This is classic story structure. Great, huh?

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Perfect Day: Can You Imagine a Life Without a To Do List?

It is amazing what works in one area of your life, like your career, works in another, like organizing/decluttering your home.

I've been reading craft books on writing. One author proposes fifteen-minute increments for just about anything creative.

Funny, so does FLYLady.net about getting your house company-ready.

I love it when I find those universal applications for all of life.

So, what would my perfect day look like? It is pretty much what I've already noted over the years. The core remains the same: writing, reading, researching, creating, with a loving supportive family unit, in an efficient and pleasing environment.

But I'm enlarging that to include that the house is fully decluttered and organized. Maybe not worthy of a magazine shoot, but an author's haven of peace and beauty and inspiration. Plus my yard is groomed, no tree limbs scratching off my roof shingles, no weeds taking over the yard or leaves preventing the grass from popping through. No dead bushes due to a two-year-long Texas drought.

As much as I enjoy working in the yard, I see delegating that at some future time. But who knows? Once I no longer need day jobs, I may enjoy a relaxed morning of mowing, edging, trimming, raking, without deadlines looming or incoming dark clouds to rush me. We'll see.

Of course, in my dream life, maybe my house mortgage is paid off early (wow!), but definitely I earn more than enough money to pay my monthly bills from my royalties. So each twenty-four-hour period is my own to determine how I spend my time each day.

I so look forward to doing what Nora Roberts has the freedom to do 24/7/365: write, read, research, create. In the meantime, I treat myself to a portion of that life daily, as much as my current schedule can accommodate.

Can you imagine a life without a To Do list? I can. And it makes me very happy to plod along, fifteen minutes at a time, possibly twice a day, to clear my list of entries. Eventually I'll get there.

What does your perfect day look like?

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman's Guide to Igniting the Writer Within by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett

Love this title!

The author speaks of choosing great titles and knowing when you've chosen the right one. She has the right one here.

I'm about seventy-four pages away from the end of this book and a little behind schedule for timely finishing my allotted library reads.

But still there is much to share from this book. Being a geek, I love her homework assignments. Also her use of a by-the-subject notebook for gathering great words, possible titles, conflict, character names, great first lines to learn from, etc. Here's some additional highlights to tempt you:
  • The economy of language. [Yes! Finding just the exact word to convey our meaning.]
  • Writing is primarily about making sense of things.
  • If you are looking for a plot, take a blank sheet of paper and write down events that have changed your life.
  • Strong emotions lead to intense writing.
  • It's life affirming when life imitates art. It's as if the universe is saying, you are on the right page, your art and life are in sync. It's God's way of saying, "Go for it!"
  • [Trust] that you have something to say, per author Harriet Rubin.
So far, I've gathered eight-and-a-half pages of double-sided college-ruled notes gleaned from her first 188 pages. Just amazing what authors can share with other authors.

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Roy Peter Clark's Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer

Here was the second book of my six library selections which I began to read.

And found so much useful info, my notes becoming more of a complete handwritten version of the book, that I promptly bought an e-book  copy on Amazon, without having read past page eighteen.

Also, because I could see my library due date looming, I will finish reading my purchased copy later, trying to read all my other borrowed books before returning them.

Clark has the usual "suspects" repeated for us authors: use strong nouns and active verbs to negate the need for adverbs and adjectives. But he also presents some unique viewpoints, such as Chapter 7: "Fear not the long sentence." And some not-so-often-touted tips such as in Chapter 12: "Give key words their space." This is akin to Margie Lawson's tip to end certain sentences on a strong emotive word. Same thing for paragraphs.

Further, Clark mentions contrast as a valuable trick, which I need to remember and utilize more often. Also, in Chapter 31 (per its title), he advises to build your work around a key question.  Rosenblatt (the featured author in the previous post) mentions this too and how it has nothing to do with your plot.


Another great book for us authors to read. Enjoy!

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Unless It Moves the Human Heart: The Craft and Art of Writing by Roger Rosenblatt

I went to my local library two Wednesdays ago to get a replacement library card. And picked up six books while I was there (five nonfiction  about the craft of writing and one J. D. Robb novel).

So of course many deadlines from within and without have surfaced to keep me from reading them before the two-week return date.

Still, I have managed a workable pace.

The first (and shortest at 155 pages) of them was the book mentioned in this post title. Rosenblatt has a wonderful sense of humor. He teaches how learning to write essays, short stories and poems helps us to write novels as well as enhancing each of the aforementioned written forms.

Out of my four double-sided college-ruled pages of notes, here are some highlights:

  • Eventually, they will discover that their writing validates their lives (p. 42).
  • Subject matter determines voice (p. 58).
  • We write to change the world (p. 58).
  • Your ending lies within your beginning (p. 61).
  • You're Virgil, not Dante. It's their adventure (p. 115).
  • [Authors are] observers of the world (p. 129).
  • ...an evolutionary tending on the part of the species to be useful (per Lewis Thomas) (pp. 148, 149).
I recommend this book for authors new or established.

Read something fun or enlightening or both today!

Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

David Farland Update

From Dave Farland's blog:

Thank you for the outpouring of support yesterday, especially to those who spread (and will spread) the word about the Book Bomb through social media and on their blogs. I have a few update for you all.

We now have a website dedicated to Ben, thanks to James Duckett, who put it together. The site has updates about Ben's status, links to the donation page, and talks about the book bomb. The address is www.helpwolverton.com/.

) and Million Dollar Outlines (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B9JYJ6W/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=B00B9JYJ6W&link_code=as3&tag=davidfarnet-20) will help Dave. He gets a small percentage of anything purchased through those links. So, if you want to buy several other books or products tomorrow, with or without Nightingale and Million Dollar Outlines, please do. Those who are doing blog posts, please update your Amazon links to the two provided here. I sent most of you the regular links.

Finally, don't forget the book bomb tomorrow! This event can really help out Ben and Dave, but only if we follow through with it. We need to work together if we want to make this successful. So, I challenge each of you to try to think of one more person or outlet that you can tell about the book bomb. Today, I'm going to put it in our local newspaper.
Don't forget you can "attend" the book bomb on facebook here.

Denise Barker

David Farland's Family Needs Your Help

From Dave Farland’s blog:
As many of you know, Dave’s son, Ben, was in a serious long-boarding accident last week. He is 16 and suffers from severe brain trauma, a cracked skull, broken pelvis and tail bone, burnt knees, bruised lungs, broken ear drum, road rash, and is currently in a coma. His family has no insurance.
We are having a book bomb this Wednesday on behalf of Ben Wolverton to help his family out. You can view the event’s facebook page here.
For those that don’t know, a book bomb is an event where participants purchase a book on a specific day to support the author, or, in this case, a young person in serious need: Ben Wolverton.
Many of you have expressed sympathy for Dave and Ben and have asked if you could help. Now you can. We need you to help Ben get the most out of this book bomb. Right now we are focused on spreading the word and telling others about it. If you could share this event on facebook, twitter, pinterest, your blog, or through email, please do. This is a way everyone reading this can help, whatever their financial situation.
On Wednesday, we will have the book bomb. If you haven’t yet purchased Nightingale or Million Dollar Outlines, please consider doing so on Wednesday. If you have already purchased them, you can donate money to Ben and his family here.

My prayers are going up for Dave and Ben and their family.

Denise Barker