Conversations: 6/17/2016

JUNE IS BUSTING OUT ALL OVER

The Season for Short Stories (Part III)

Within most every month on our calendar there is some type of celebration honoring the men and women who serve our countries in the military. To support, encourage and thank them, children have sent handmade cards to those on active duty. Family and Friend groups have hired local artists to create one-of-a-kind Thank You cards and sent them with personalized messages to thousands of our armed forces around the world. The big-name producers of greeting cards (e.g. Hallmark etc.) have created animated eCards that deliver messages such as: “Spirit, promise, hope. Once a soldier, always a hero,” and “Thanks for being the kind of person our country can depend on.” I love the concept of eCards. Their short messages are like short stories from the heart—much like eBooks.

In a previous blog I mentioned that a collection of short stories can quickly build into a book. One excellent example of this development method combined the author’s love for canine companions with her knowledge of training police and military working dogs. Violetta Kovacs collected multiple short stories about various K9s who exemplify excellence in the daring and often deadly “jobs” they carry out. Then, she published her book: K9 COMMANDO, Police and Army Dogs from New York to Berlin.

YOU, TOO can collect short stories and publish!

  • Are there people in your writing group (s) who’ve written an excellent short story but never did anything with it?
  • Are you in contact with friends who love to tell a good story, but have never written them?
  • Have your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents told you a story that is so vivid in your memory you could write it yourself?

What is stopping you?

  • Are you an art collector of ODD pieces—maybe found in dumpsters or garage sales? Does each individual item TELL you a story?
  • Are you a photographer whose focus is on Mountain Peaks, or Tree Tops, or Valleys, or Meadows? What are the STORIES behind your specific photographic interests?
  • Are you a sculptor of clay or wood who allows the object to inspire the piece AS IF it TELLS you its story as you work?

ARE YOU LISTENING to all these stories?

IF (or when) you find yourself struggling with completing your novel, writing and/or collecting short stories will send you on a whole new adventure! It will give you fresh insights and fresh perspectives that can not only give you a publishable collection, but will loosen your writing flow and provide a boost to the completion of your novel!

Grab hold of one (or two or three) of the ideas listed here today, and run with it! You’ll be happily surprised how much FUN you’ll have while becoming a published author! ⚓︎

RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

Conversations: 6/10/2016

JUNE IS BUSTING OUT ALL OVER

The Season for Short Stories (Part II)

SO HOW IS YOUR COLLECTION of greeting cards coming along? My February file is filled with Patriotism cards—which I had to research to find—because it includes Lincoln’s birthday, Washington’s birthday and Presidents’ Day (just so all of the other U.S. Presidents don’t feel left out). But the real biggie is VALENTINE’S DAY.

There are numerous short stories from every person’s life that can be told about Valentine’s Day experiences. Some of my personal favorites include:

  • The guy who went to three florists before he found the “perfect” presentation of red roses—in a crystal vase—for his girlfriend. What she actually received was a box of black roses.
  • The friendly neighbor who baked a cherry flavored red cake for the guy next door. The thick layer of icing was topped with peanut “flakes.” When the ambulance arrived and he was carried away, both of them were in tears.
  • The great-grandfather who sent his only great-granddaughter a “magic box.” The secret compartment held the first Valentine’s card he’d given to his wife—75 years earlier.

There are also the legend/historical stories. Many of these relate to people with the surname Valentine and are rarely told these days because the historical accuracy is lacking. However this leaves plenty of room for the fiction writer to imagine characters and events.

  • Christian tradition tells of “Saint Valentine” of Rome who had been thrown in prison for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. Legend tells us that this “Saint Valentine” healed his jailer’s daughter, and before his execution, he wrote her a letter signed: Your Valentine.
  • About 270 AD there was a priest named Valentine who defied a law of Emperor Claudius II who “cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome.” This Valentine secretly arranged marriages of young men and women who came to him. He was brutally beaten and put to death on February 14th, for his “romantic” efforts.
  • Ancient Rome also honored one of their pagan gods named Juno—the goddess of women and marriage. It was a custom for the names of the Roman girls to be written on slips of paper which were placed in a container. Then each boy drew a name of the girl he would be coupled with for the festival celebrations.

AND, for those who enjoy writing lighter short stories, consider the BIRDS.

  • This IS springtime, and the birds are looking for their mates and/or mating with their lifetime partners. From the Middle Ages until this very day, people have noticed the romantic melodies in the air. This lyric environment encouraged many humans to express their love in poetry, love notes and gifts of the beautiful flowers that begin blooming in this season.

One other event is celebrated in February that can inspire a wide variety of short stories—LEAP YEAR. Have you ever wondered about the complications that can come to someone whose birthday comes along ONLY ONCE EVERY FOUR YEARS?

the book of dreams by richard malmros

Today’s look at greeting-card-short-story-development may have focused on the month of February, but I’m hoping these bits of information will inspire many ideas in your writing-heart. One such author, Richard Malmros—who published his book of short stories titled: The Book of Dreams—has given Readers a collection of shorts that are full of life’s adventures. His book is published in both paperback and eBook editions. Is it time for your short stories to be collected in a book—and published? ⚓︎

RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

In Your Corner : Super Bowl 50 Edition

Will you be watching the Denver Broncos go toe-to-toe with the Carolina Panthers this Sunday?  Super Bowl 50 promises to be quite the event, and not just for the teams on the field––or their fans far and wide, or the support teams, or the cities which are represented, or even the disappointed followers of teams that didn’t make it.  The Super Bowl, like many other big sporting events in America and abroad, has the power to bring people together.  And whenever people gather together, whether it’s for Super Bowl 50 or some other occasion, you as an author have a unique opportunity to gather something else: stories.

superbowl50_banner

My favorite moment in many of the books I read and movies I watch is when a family gets together and the drama ends up spilling into the kitchen.  There’s something special about having all the generations represented, with their conflicting memories and versions of reality and worldviews.  These moments usually lay the foundation for some kind of resolution later in the story––resolution that smacks of reconciliation, and the importance of family (for better or worse).  The Swiss Family Robinson was among my favorite books as a child, and now as an adult I see the same thing happening in Isabel Allende, Kate Morton, Louise Erdrich, and Jonathan Franzen’s books––and the list goes on and on.  Some of my best storytelling memories––both as speaker and listener––revolve around my grandparent’s dinner table.  These are the moments we can’t afford to miss, as authors.

Am I recommending that you bring an exploitative reportorial mind to family gatherings?  No.  As writers we do have some obligation to report on reality––whether through the intimations of fiction or the facts of nonfiction––but we are not reporters.  (Unless, of course, that is your bread and butter profession.)  We do not inhabit those moments as objective observers, but rather intimate witnesses, and participants.  These stories have the potential to mean something to your readers (as inspiration for fiction, or the backbone of a memoir) precisely because you’re not objective.  They mean something to others only because they first mean something to you.

As an author, you have to strike the balance between participant and recorder.  It’s worth noting that some authors do not ask permission of family members and friends before writing about them (claiming that this allows more freedom of expression and less fear of even well-intentioned censorship), while others firmly advocate for asking permission out of respect.  I happen to be one of the latter, but I do recognize that it can be awkward to pull people aside to ask if it’s okay if I write down some of their stories.  A little awkwardness seems worth it to me, however, to know that I’m doing justice to the wishes as well as the words of the people who inspire me.

A couple of years back, when a relative of mine entered the hospital during her final days of struggling with cancer, my whole family came together––far flung cousins and aunts and nephews and great-grandchildren.  People had traveled from the far reaches of the country and in some cases, from abroad.  And something magical happened: the stories began to unspool themselves all around us.  I’ve never learned so much about my family’s history and legacy as I did in those days––and while it was magical, I wish it had been something other than suffering to have brought us together.  This isn’t exactly a recommendation to shout “Carpe Diem!” and add pressure to organize family reunions to all of the other responsibilities you face, but I do hope all of you find a whole host of precious shared moments that are rich with storytelling––whether this weekend watching the Super Bowl, or elsewhere––to enjoy in the coming years.

Always remember: you are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

October Writing Challenge #5 NaNoWriMo

Over the past month I’ve challenged you to complete a weekly Halloween inspired writing challenge. These challenges were designed to spark creative ideas, help you stick to your writing routine, and provide a little fun in your hectic week. (After all, writing is supposed to be fun, right?)

Now that October is almost over, I have an even bigger and more exciting challenge for you — NaNoWriMo. If you’ve followed my blog posts in the past, you know I not only encourage authors to try NaNoWriMo, but I have also done the challenge myself.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that challenges writers to pen a whopping 50,000 words in the month of November. Hundreds of thousands of writers participate in the challenge each year.

NaNoWriMo is great for new writers looking for a creative jumpstart or experienced writers looking for a new challenge. It begins November 1st and ends on November 30th.

To sign up or learn more about NaNoWriMo, visit www.nanowrimo.org. The website helps you track your progress, gives you access to pep talks and inspirational stories, and provides a place to meet other writers.

Also, if you missed any of the October challenges, be sure to go back and check out them out: Spiritual Poetry Challenge, 15 Minute Challenge, Short Story Challenge, and Children’s Halloween Story Challenge. (You never know, they might inspire your NaNoWriMo project.)

I’d love to know, are you going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

October Writing Challenge #4

October is here! Witches, ghosts, and goblins! Oh my!

In honor of Halloween, each week in October I am sharing a Halloween inspired writing challenge. These challenges are designed to spark creative ideas, help you stick to your writing routine, and provide a little fun in your hectic week. (After all, writing is supposed to be fun, right?)

So far, we’ve done the Spiritual Poetry Challenge, 15 Minute Challenge, and Short Story Challenge. (If you missed any of these, click the links to check them out.)

This week is the children’s Halloween story challenge. Think of a child in your life and write out a story you might tell him or her as a bed time story for Halloween.  It doesn’t have to be scary (you want them to go to sleep after all), but it can be about monsters or ghosts or anything else related to Halloween.

After writing the story, you may decide you like the finished manuscript and want to self-publish the story. Remember, the pictures are very important in children’s books. If you happen to be an artist, this is a great opportunity to illustrate your own book. If not, many self-publishing companies offer a variety of illustration services to suit your needs.

Be sure to check back next Wednesday for the next writing challenge!

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

October Writing Challenge #3

One of my favorite months is finally here — October! Witches, ghosts, and goblins! Oh my!

In honor of Halloween, each week in October I am sharing a Halloween inspired writing challenge. These challenges are designed to spark creative ideas, help you stick to your writing routine, and provide a little fun in your hectic week. (After all, writing is supposed to be fun, right?)

So far, we’ve done the Spiritual Poetry Challenge and the 15 Minute Challenge. (If you missed it, be sure to check it out.)

This week is the short story challenge. Here is how it works.

1) Get inspired. Did one of the challenges from the last two weeks spark some ideas for you?  Use one of those ideas as a catalyst for a short story. If you are just starting the challenges, or you have an idea unrelated to the previous challenges, start a completely new story. It doesn’t have to be based off the previous challenges, but many of you probably already have ideas from working on the first two pieces.

2) Write a 500 word fiction piece  that channels your inner Stephen King. Let the season inspire you to write a mystery or thriller story, even if you usually work in another genre. Stepping out of your comfort zone and writing something completely different can be invigorating and bring new life to all of your work.

Be sure to check back next Wednesday for the next writing challenge!

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Back to Writing: Publishing Challenge

August is here and as summer is winding down, it’s time to get back to your writing and publishing goals.  Each week this month I will present you with a writing challenge for the week.  Come back every Wednesday to join the challenge and get back into the habit of writing on a regular basis. As Desiderius Erasmus once said, “The desire to write grows with writing.”

Over the past three weeks, I hope I’ve been able to help you get back into writing by completing the poetry challenge, short story challenge, and 15 minute challenge.

Now that you are feeling motivated and inspired to write, perhaps you have started thinking about publishing. Have you been working on a book you want to publish? Or have you always wanted to write and publish something, but haven’t started yet?  This week, your challenge is to set mini writing goals to get you from where you are now to where you want to be: I call this the publishing challenge.  

Let’s say you want to be a published author by the end of the year and you are about half finished with writing your book.  Imagine what you have left to write and set goals for each week in September, October and November (if necessary).  Give yourself some room the last couple of months as the publishing process can take several weeks.

The more you have left to write, the more aggressive your goals may need to be, but challenge yourself to write a chapter a week (or a certain number of pages or a certain number of words) to get you to your end goal of publishing a book by a reasonable date.  Then, discipline yourself to meet your goal each week and be sure to review your goals often to be sure you’re on target.

Good luck and happy writing!

 

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.