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Archive for January, 2013

To celebrate the one year anniversary of publishing Gateways, I held a giveaway contest. Gwen Bristol won and has surpassed all my expectations in what she has done to help me promote my writing.

preview cover of Gateways

First, she posted a blog about winning Gateways.

Second, she purchased a Kindle copy of Gateways.

Third, when Gateways arrived on her doorstep, she took a picture of the book and posted another blog.

And now, after reading my book, she has written a fabulous review in a format I have not seen before, but love!

Just another example how blogging and being generous can make a huge difference in a little writer’s life. :) On top of being generous, Gwen is a giften writer – her book The Night Ones Legacy is a must read! I’m more than 1/2 way through the story and you can be sure when I finish, I will write a review and post it on all my social networking sites.

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I started this blog a year ago and realized about six months into it that I know nothing about blogging. Not being the type to give up at any form of writing, I dug in deeper to discover the hidden wonders of blogging, bloggers and why we feel compelled to share our writing, our thoughts, ideas and pictures on line.

As a writer, blogging is one of many recommended platform builders. I was under the impression that ‘if I wrote, they woud read it’. But who are ‘they’? And where to they come from?

Lesson #1 – building an audience, a reader-base for a blog, is as essential as bringing a dish-to-pass to a pot luck. That is so simple, but it’s something beginning bloggers overlook. You might have the best essays in the world; you may have written a Newberry Honor-worthy story, but until someone read it, it’s just ink on paper (or pixels on the screen).

actualwritingspaceAs this lesson settled on my mind, I altered my 2012 writing plans to 2012 research plans. I ventured out and found new bloggers, old bloggers, Indie Authors, started a facebook page, opened a Twitter account, poked around on pinterest, Linked up on LinkedIn. Basically, I did a cannonball into the pool that is social networking.

Bringing those 2012 goals into 2013, I hope to compile a list of writing resources, great articles, compelling stories at the end of each month. Enjoy these bloggers as I have! Learn from them, follow them, comment on their posts. Join the circus that is writing and sharing and juggling careers and this art form. Be present!

Ideas for Social Networking:

3 Ways to Find Readers on Twitter

Joining Twitter Chats to Make Connections

Blog Hops and Blog Carnivals:

Author First Look with Vicki Husdon

Third Sunday Carnival Blog

Indie Author Interivews @ Kimberly Shursen’s blog (click on ‘more’ to view author interviews)

Writing Tutorials:

Giving Birth to a Book

Heirarchy of Clarity – an excellent website full of resources for writers! I tagged it in my favorites!

20 Frighteningly Good Writing Tips from Stephen King!

Just for Fun!

Board Games for Book Nerds

Gateways, my book – Shameless plug!

Gateways Book Trailer on YouTube

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I’ve been working on a book for quite a while now. Four years actually. The idea is there, the concept is there, I have my theme. What I’m missing is the “who cares?” part. I’m subjecting my characters to a series of trials…for what?

So, I returned to my theme, adjusted the plot line, tweeked the series of events leading to the end and tried again.

I set it aside for a month and came back, saw the weaknesses, fixed them and continued working.

It’s been a solid month and a half now of working through this story and I have successfully created a pile of utter crap. Oh, why am I sugar-coating it? It’s fly-infested blech ontop of rotting filth. I was pushing the story too hard trying to make it work. The story was shoving me back. I won with a quick stroke of the Delete button. Poor manuscript never saw it coming!

But I still love the idea. I need to write a story with this theme. The concept is strong. But my story is all wrong. Now that I’ve stopped crying about my failed attempt, I’ve hit the delete button, freed my computer of 54,000+ words. This is not the first time I’ve done this. Gateways began over twelve years ago under a different title with different characters. I deleted over 28 chapters that time – and I’ve never regretted it! Now that I’m free of this most recent deleted story, I’m ready to start over.

Except I’m not going to…not yet.

I have another manuscript almost finished. According to my plot outline, I have four more chapters. I hope to finish that before my editor sends me changes for Unforgettable Roads</em>, and two picture books being illustrated that will need work when the artists are finished.

I’m thankful that I have other projects to work on since this latest manuscript has completely flopped.

And that is my point: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

As a writer, an artist, it’s a good idea to juggle a few things. If something falls through, you have something else ready to work on. In my dream of becoming a writer, I’m hoping that when someone reads Unforgettable Roads, they’ll come to me and say, “Wow! This is wonderful. Do you have anything more?”

“Why yes, I do,” I’ll respond and hand them the next manuscript.

Dreams are what we make of them. I will not delete my dreams, but I will gladly delete efforts that keep me from reaching my goals of writing great stories.

I will come back to that concept and theme, but not right now. Other stories are calling and I’m listening…and hoping that someday you’ll be reading them :)

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Visit the Writer’s Digest Website to read the details of the 13th annual “Dear Lucky Agent” contest.

What do you send?

The first 225-250 words of your sci-fi or young adult manuscript.

What can you win?

A critique of the first double spaced 10 pages of that manuscript by agent Victoria Marini.

All the info you need is one the website – click on ‘Writers Digest” above. Good luck!

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I laughed out loud when I received this award…I just lost my temper when things in my house didn’t go as planned. That is the total opposite of versatile :) And maybe that’s why I LOVE writing – everything can be edited for content and polished to perfection before anyone reads it. Like airbrushing ideas.

And now for my second confession: I received this award a few weeks ago but haven’t done anything with it because of the number of blog I need to award this to – 15!

But before I get to the rules and awards, I want to thank Gwen Bristol @ http://www.GwenBristol.com for the nomination! We met on LinkedIn and she has become a source of encouragement, support, and really good stories. (The Night Ones Legacy is excellent!)

versatileblogger111

Versatile Blogger Rules (If you choose to obey them)
•Display the Award Certificate on your website
•Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented your award
•Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers (I’m changing it to 7 blogs. Why? Because I have to share 7 things about myself and 7 is the number of completion and perfection.)
•Drop them a comment to tip them off after you’ve linked them in the post
•Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

Here are the seven bloggers that I choose to present this award to:

http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/ This girl has spirit!
http://frenchwellness.wordpress.com/ Very unique. I never know what to expect :)
http://5kidswdisabilities.com/ Inspiring!
http://shirleysquirrely.wordpress.com/ Just plain fun writing
http://lorieb.wordpress.com/ I’m always looking for wheat-free ideas
http://michelleproulx.wordpress.com/ She’s funny and spirited and adorable
http://quirkybooks.wordpress.com/ Talk about versatile! Sandra covers it all!

Now for seven things about myself:

1. I homeschool my children and I love it! I didn’t start this journey out of any religious crusade; I simply wasn’t ready to put my oldest daughter in all-day kindergarten and I knew I could teach her at home. We tried it for a year and decided to do it again. That was 8 years ago.

2. I have Type 1 Diabetes. It sucks. I give myself insulin injections every day. The silver-lining? I eat really healthy and I’m in good shape.

3. I turned 40 last year. Hey, it’s a milestone so we celebrated!

4. I have four children: three biological daughters and one adopted son. They are all beautiful and much loved. God knew what he was doing when he gave me these children: they stretch and fill my heart in many ways. (Did I mention my youngest was 2? He’s stretching me!)

5. I didn’t catch the reading bug until 7th grade when I was given The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende for Christmas. I read it in 3 days. I devoured every book I could after that, but nothing captured me like that again until I read The Counte of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas.

6. My favorite snack is apple slices and almond butter.

7. I have a second blog that I started a few weeks ago for diabetics: http://www.NaturallyDiabetic.com It’s helping me stay focused on eating and exercising well, keeping my meals planned, and encouraging my children to take pictures of everything we eat so I can post it :)

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What is a blog carnival you ask?

A blog featuring a variety of blog posts. You’ll have your choice between non-fiction posts, fantasy, literary, poetry, steampunk…you name it.

Why visit a blog carnival?

Unlike a traditional carnival with performers, a blog carnival entertains in writing. Contortionists don’t always live in tiny boxes. Writers, especially emerging writers who are using their blog to find readers, are finding their niche. Not wanting to be confined to a box, we stand on that box and shout out stories, ideas, and themes. The blog community is a network of people seeking an audience, ready to lend a hand to another emerging writer, giving feedback, encouragement and reblogging, retweeting and FB-friending well-liked posts. Blog carnivals are a means to find new voices, new friends, new writers.

Third Sunday Blog Carnival is posted on – you guessed it – the Third Sunday of the month. If features a range of writing and this month, my blog post featuring the first chapter of Circle of Pride is included.

Third Sunday Blog Carnival: January 2013.

Have fun, explore new writing, and don’t forget to comment on, like or share writing you enjoy!

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I saw a child today at Mass who just couldn’t sing in front of the parish with the children’s choir. My heart melted for this little one. While she didn’t cry or run to her parents, she didn’t sing either.

I know that fear. I know that gut-prickling sensation when one foot will not take the next step, when my voice won’t utter the necessary word, when my mind is so befuddled by confusion I can’t think a straight line.

Wouldn’t that be a great writing prompt? Share a sentence or a short paragraph in the comment feature of a character who just can’t take that next step out of total and unrelenting horror. I would love to feature the winner (completely my choice!) in a blog and use all my social networking connections to link to your blog. So what’s to lose? :) Don’t be afraid! Take that next step! Go on!

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And the Winner is…

The contest has closed and the free copy of Gateways goes to Gwen Bristol! She has gone above and beyond my expectations and has included this win in her blog. You can read it here:

Thank you for all the support and encouragement over the last year. This coming year looks to be filled with many more adventures: in publishing, writing, and blogging.

Have a beautiful day!

Jessica

www.BooksByJessica.com

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Writing Gateways was my step into writing fiction for young adults. It was the book that I started over three times, wrote over a decade while I had three children and published it after adopting my fourth child. This work is one of my children, a labor of love, a maturing entity. I enrolled my first book, Gateways, in the Amazon KDP program a year ago. I did so under the hopes that the royalty payment would be larger and my book could be shared among readers enrolled in the Prime Program. Now I’m trying the 99 cent route.

Yes, it’s painful to see all my work: writing, editing, cover design… go for $0.99, but it’s never been about the money.

Do I feel lessened by the lower price? NO! I’m hopeful the lower price will encourage more people to read it (and leave feedback on Amazon.com and Goodreads.com).

Thinking about buying it for your Kindle? Here’s the Book Trailer. Click here for a preview of the first couple chapters. And if you do feel compelled to read it, leave a review. They are the golden nuggets for authors like me who are getting our feet wet in this world of publishing :)

Happy Monday!

Jessica

www.BooksByJessica.com

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school bus

I was supposed to be in Cheboygan, MI this month talking to students about writing, but schedules being unruly beasts, I’m not able to be there. Instead, here is a bullet point list of ideas to do with students to encourage them to write.

* End the School Day with Journal Writing
At the end of a school day, each child has endured an adventure, solved the mystery of science, experienced a horror in the lunch room, felt the sting of bullying… the list goes on. Give them time to write about their day. What did they learn? What would they like to forget? What was the highlight of the day? Ten minutes a day of dumping their thoughts on paper could safe a life. I don’t believe I’m stretching the truth there.

writing pics 009

* When the students write, so does the Teacher
Model the behavior you want from the students. Are you a homeschooling parent? Do the same.

* Read what you wrote to the class
If the subject matter isn’t entirely private in nature, share what you wrote. Make sure it is light hearted. Although, if there was a difficult moment of the day, write about that, but end it with a VERY positive tone. Modeling positive thinking is good thing!

* There are times to correct grammar and times to just read
Think about it – if every time you spoke someone corrected you, how long would it take before you stopped talking altogether? Imagine a child at a dance being told he was dancing wrong…that’s a wallflower in the making. Sometimes writing is just writing – horrible spelling, grammar, and dialogue and all! The voice can’t always express the heart. That’s the power of art in therapy. Writing can be therapy too, but not if the teacher marks up a student’s heart with the sharp end of a red pen.

* Give students time to share
If you were to look at the notes of a popular public speaker, it’s likely there would be errors. But in public speaking, the notes are not graded, just the delivery. If you have a student who is not a good writer, they are likely a good speaker. Given them an audience. Don’t have time to sit and listen to one student? Give them a video recorder/digital recorder and let them run with it. You’ll be amazed with the growth in that student!

* Share good sentences
When I was a teacher, I made the horrible mistake of reading a student’s work as the ‘bad example’. Yeah, I know – horrible! Never ever read a students entire paper to a class, even if it’s the good example. Instead, pull several well-written sentences from several students papers and post them on a bulletin board (refrigerator for homeschoolers). Even a weak writer can have a great sentence. This boosts self-esteem and will result in stronger writers.

Related Links
Writing and Editing with Students

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