Archive for the ‘Top Tips’ Category

Or, Editing Woes Noone Warned you About ~

The word “edit” in the dictionary means “to prepare for publication.”

For the author in the last stages of editing their book, the sheer hours spent bum-in-chair can become numbing at both ends of the spectrum.

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You see, no one tells you the truth about the writer’s life, either at school or in the way it’s rendered via popular media. As a kind of public service announcement, I’m happy to give you a “heads up” about the possible woes that lie ahead, if you’re thinking of turning that story in the bottom drawer into a viable commodity.

Here’s what to expect:

Editing Woes #1: Temporary Blindness

Stephen King once said, “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” There’s a good reason for keeping that office door open. Besides getting other people’s eyes upon your fiction, you need ventilation. You can succumb to writer’s fatigue. After sitting in a room on your own, staring at those dark marching ants across the screen for hours, you stop seeing the words.

Cure: Get some oxygen, head outdoors, look at nature.

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Editing Woes #2: Temporary Book Hate

“The first draft of everything is shit,” so said Ernest Hemmingway. However, given enough exposure to your own work, every other draft of your own precious story will start to annoy you, too. This is a temporary phase.

Top tip: Try not to throw the entire file in the rubbish bin.

Cure: Keep going. Do not give up!

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Editing Woes #3: Temporary Loss of Will to Live

There comes a moment, when you’ve just finished your hundredth edit of your story, and you realize you’re going to have to go back to the beginning and start again, that the apple begins to slide off the cherry.

I had a deadline to reach this weekend, my book needed to be submitted to createspace by April 15th. The material had been worked over so many times, but it still wasn’t done. When I found myself at 6.30 in the evening yesterday, and it wasn’t finished and I still I had to keep editing, I felt weak with stress.

The last yards to publication when you’re an Indie are soul destroying. Every time you think you’ve carved off the last word and discovered the last ill-placed comma, you find yet another error.

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On the fifth “final edit” I just wanted to put down the laptop lid, walk away and pretend none of it ever happened. I felt I could not read those words again.

Top Tip: This is normal. You will want to give up. You will want to curl in the fetal position. Don’t worry; it happens to all of us. It’s like childbirth or passing a kidney stone, it doesn’t matter how bad it becomes, you will get through it.

Cure: Eat treats. I took “feijoa breaks.”

Editing Woes #4: Temporarily Losing Touch with Reality

Yes, this is a common problem they don’t warn you about in writing class. When those sixth and seventh “final edits” take place, usually late at night, and you’re keeping yourself going by drinking coffee and eating sweets, the hours start to blend. One friend said, “it’s like a black hole that sucks time into it.”

This is true. The further you dive into your nitty-gritty polishes, the more hours disappear. When I finally lifted my head last night, I looked around and it was dark outside. The whole day had vanished. I was blinking like a mole, saying, where is everyone?

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Cure: Go be with human people. Exercise. Eat. Drink. Sleep.

The reward is that this really is the last hurdle.

Top Tip: just as with childbirth, it’s all worth it in the end. When the proud author gets to see their story presented in book form for the first time, it makes all the pain of editing worthwhile. The secret is to keep going through the gnarly last part!

At midnight, I had the manuscript, the cover art, a professional headshot, the back cover blurb and three great peer reviews ready to go, and I submitted the whole package to Createspace. I felt immediate relief and joy. Now, I await the first “proof” which is exciting.

But here’s the thing, no work of art is ever truly finished.

As Oscar Wilde said, “Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned.”

I had to choose the point at which to let go. When do you let go? When do you say enough’s enough?

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Talk to you later.

Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol

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“This morning I took out a comma, and this afternoon I put it back again.” ~ Oscar Wilde

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Kids are visual creatures. They like to be entertained in every respect. As a child, I loved books with illustrations. When I morphed into reading chapter books as a young person I wanted the more complex stories, but I still wanted the imagery. I can remember really appreciating the authors who put ink illustrations in their chapter books. I have fond memories of poring over the minute squiggles and flourishes on the pages of Tove Jansson’s books.

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Last year, I prepared to release my first book, my novel, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta.’ The first book from The Chronicles of Aden Weaver. I realized there was no way the budget would stretch to illustrations, so I came up with an easy solution.

Here’s  a guide to creating your own pen and ink book illustrations:

Step One: Start with your characters.

First, you must have some form of cover art for your book which you have either paid for or otherwise have liberty to use. For my debut novel, I had the two main characters rendered artistically in digital form by my nephew.

I simply copied the character with a pencil.

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Second attempt on Aden, for b&w illustration0002I wanted to introduce a new face. I took a photo of a statue of a giant which I found in a 1970’s magazine and copied the basic outline.

*Hot Tip: I use an automatic pencil, as they have the super fine leads. You want to do all the early stages on tracing paper.

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I already had my protagonist, Aden Weaver, rendered in pencil from last year, but I needed to change his position for this book so I lifted him into the air. This gave me a new image to work with. As I pinned down the character’s positions, I switched from pencil to a fine permanent marker pen.

*Hot Tip: You’ll need to see every line. A fine nib is necessary. I use a Staedtler “Triplus fineliner.” Every line needs to be carefully but clearly distinct.

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Step Two: Create the background and foreground

For this image, I decided to use one of a few special backdrops. A dear friend, Lyall Gardiner, had gifted me four of his ink/colour pencil backdrops before he passed. In A3, they’re enormous, so I selected elements from one image, the moon and wispy clouds and some of the looming shapes and traced them onto a more compacted A4 page.

You could use whatever you have to hand, interesting segments of your kids’ artwork, pieces of your own from childhood, or you could go wild and cut segments of out-of-date magazine pictures to create a montage/mosaic effect, etc. Use your imagination.

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*Hot Tip: Take care not to tread on rights to intellectual property.

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Step Three: Combine and Trace

The next part is to employ your artistic eye with placement. Arrange your characters on the background in a way that fits the “story” you want to tell. The great thing about using tracing paper is you can flip the characters over. I decided to “tell the story” of the Oni looming. However, I needed to flip our hero to have him face the giant. To do this, I simply turned the paper over and re-defined all the lines with pen on the reverse of the paper!

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Step Four: Fill it in!

I took my taped-together tracing paper image and copied it onto thick art paper. I used permanent markers and filled in the picture. I thought in terms of light and shadow, silhouette, of how things look in the dark, not drawing to be realistic but to create pattern – effect through contrast. I left certain patches: one or two to be left white and at least a few to be painted black. They added impact.

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The resulting image will be one of the two illustration plates for inside ‘The Sasori Empire.’ On Facebook, I shared it with the caption, ‘The horned face of the Oni appeared in the trunk, even more hideous than before, and a head of bark grew.’

Step Five: Copyright!

Make sure to add your name the copyright symbol and the year somewhere on your picture.

With a bit of effort, anyone can create at least a couple of illustrations to go inside their own book. These simple pen and inks are relatively easy, quick, and they’re super fun to do. You have the satisfaction of having made it yourself.

Have you ever tried your hand at your own illustrations?

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Talk to you later

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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The Holy Grail is to spend less time making the picture than it takes people to look at it. ~ Banksy

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I saw a picture on Facebook the other day of Neil Gaiman. After a Nick Cave concert, the author was sitting in his chair scribbling in a notebook. And, the image really captured my imagination.

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The accompanying article was about creating healthy limits in order to get the writing done, Embrace Your Boundaries

http://writerunboxed.com/2017/02/24/embrace-your-boundaries/

Author Dan Blank, says, ‘I want to share what I have experienced recently in allowing boundaries to be a part of my own creative work. How boundaries have helped the work, instead of hindering it.’

That’s exactly where my thoughts have been. As a writer, I simply wasn’t producing enough copy. In these times of distraction, we have to carve out our own cave.

Towards the end of January, after blogging non-stop for a few years, I took a writer’s hiatus. It really worked for me. I took a break from my blog, Newsletter, and every form of social media (except for a tiny bit of stalking Facebook). I was immediately productive, at least doubling, if not tripling my former output. On the very first weekend I stopped social media, I completely finished an exhaustive edit. I then finished transcribing the edits of my editor and critique partner, Maria Cisneros-Toth.

In fact, it was so successful, I’ve decided to experiment from now on with blogging and putting out the Newsletter less often. I’ll try blogging fortnightly and putting out the Newsletter monthly. We’ll see how that goes.

Maria said at this stage with her books, she always reads them in different media, on her phone, her ipad and so on. Then, she prints out a copy and reads it on paper.

She said, “You’ll pick up lots of errors you hadn’t seen that way.” The funny thing is, in my thirty five years of writing, I’ve never allowed myself luxuries like spending $20 on a copy of a book just to edit it one time. So, this was a complete novelty to me.

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Do you know what? Printing it out was a time saver. It brought many inconsistencies to the surface. That one edit on paper probably saved me three edits on the computer.

It seems everything becomes clear when you read a story on paper. It’s as if the brain processes the material in a different way. I easily noticed repeated words, favoured ways of saying things and errors in sequence of logic.

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Reading aloud is another effective tool in the editing kit.

With my first book, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ (http://amzn.com/B015K1KF0I) I recorded myself reading to camera. I knew that listening to the prose was a step not to be missed.

For this story, I used a hand-held Sony IC recorder. I read the entire book over three days.

What an incredible tool for editing! It really shows you what’s working and what’s not.

For instance, with dialogue tags, the general rule-of-thumb is you can use ‘said, asked, whispered,’ and, sometimes, ‘added.’ In a number of places in my second book, ‘The Sasori Empire,’ my young hero, Aden ‘added’ something to a conversation. It looked fine on paper, but what a tongue-twister to read! So, if you haven’t read your story aloud yet, you must do so.

When you think about it, this is the litmus test of a story, if you can’t read a story to someone, you’ve failed out of the starting gate.

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At this point, I’d edited the book eight times, Maria, once. Yet, after going through the wringer of printing out and reading aloud, the pages of my paper manuscript were covered in red pen. I was floored by how many changes needed to be made.

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Next job was to sit at the computer and transcribe the changes into Word.

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I had the stack of 227 pages of my corrections as well as a rather wonderful list, ‘things to watch for’ about general issues raised. It helped me ensure I had introduced certain characters properly and had events happening in the right order.

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It requires attention to detail and many hours of dedication to create a book!

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Meanwhile, I’d sounded out my sister, Jag, about being my first beta reader. She agreed, and bless her, two days later the manuscript was returned. This weekend, my job is to transcribe Jag’s edits into the book.

After that, I get to send it to the second beta reader. And so, the process goes on.

I’m more productive by creating social media limits. How about you? Any experiences or advice to share?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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‘Don’t worry about genius and don’t worry about not being clever. Trust rather to hard work, perseverance, and determination.’ ~ Sir Frederick Treves, 1903

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When creating your own brand, my advice is to keep your brand consistent. For instance, my brand is Kristen Lamb. ~ We Are Not Alone.

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At some point, each new writer must make a decision about which name is going to appear on the front cover of their books and stories.

These days, once you commit to a name, this becomes synonymous with your brand. Every little digital step we take these days gets linked to and adds incrementally to our brand. This is why we need to choose wisely where our writer’s names are concerned.

We don’t want to have to do the spadework all over again to build a new brand if we have to change name somewhere along the way.

For many years, I couldn’t decide which moniker I was going to use as a writer. Luckily, I was on Facebook, and I stumbled across Kristen Lamb. She had written a book in 2010 on social media for writers, We Are Not Alone, ‘The Writer’s Guide to Social Media.’ This book is no longer available in the original format, as it needed updating. I believe the updated version Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World  is available now.

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It was 2011. I was new to the net. I was simply a full time mother who wrote part time. I was everyone’s poor cousin. Unpublished, at the time, I had neither a blog, nor a newsletter, website, or any of the must-haves for the modern writer. I was just starting out into the jungle of the strange and mysterious world of social media, and the whole thing seemed rather intimidating and scary.

After purchasing a copy of We Are Not Alone, Lamb’s short yet impactful book, I read it in one gulp. I must admit, I went rather “Shelton” and adhered to Lamb’s principles to the letter.

With regards the subject of author names, pen names, and author brand, Lamb advocated thinking in a broad fashion across one’s social media platforms, and seeing for oneself the value in having one name, one brand, across all platforms. ‘Just because Twitter allows you to have multiple identities doesn’t mean it is a good idea, especially if you are unpublished.’

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This felt like a wise decision and the simplest, to choose a writer’s name that I would use across every social media platform.

I considered the idea of letting go of my surname and using Yvette Carol, my first and middle names. I remembered a conversation I had had about this subject with my grandmother about a decade before. At the time, I had asked Nan for her opinion on which pseudonym I should choose.

Nan said, “While I would love to see the family name on the spine of a book, up on the shelf, I think ‘Yvette Carol’ sounds more like an author.”

I felt the same way. It fitted the criteria in Lamb’s book, and most importantly, it felt like me.

I changed my name by deed poll and committed to it across all genres and all areas of my life. It really felt like taking control. Being bold. And making a statement on the internet, as in, ‘This is my name. This is my claim.’

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When it comes to choosing your writer’s name, what criteria can you use?

Make sure the words are punchy and memorable. Usually, you want to test how it sounds by saying it aloud a few times to find out how it flows.

As Lamb said, ‘In order to maximise sales, your goal is to become a brand. Brand=Big Sales.’ You want to think catchy. However, shorter isn’t necessarily better. Just ask Arnold Schwarzenegger! He stayed true to his name.’

Kristen Lamb put it perfectly, when she said, ‘The internet has valuable real estate that you will want to command. How you claim that digital real estate is by using your name.’

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Lamb’s second key bit of advice re choosing the name to go by for an author was to consider what product or genre or style they wanted their name to be associated with. Then, you market yourself that way from then on. Hence, the reason my blog and website are titled, Yvette Carol, Children’s Writer.

Thank you, Kristen for the great advice!

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In a nutshell, your writer’s name is designed to be pithy and memorable

It’s designed to reflect you and your brand.

It’s designed to be flexible, so you can ‘be consistent across all platforms’

It’s designed to be classic, to last forever.

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How did you find your writer’s name or do you use your given birth name?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that. ~ Lewis Carroll

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I threw a party recently for my nephew’s 21st and was given the job of baking the cake. My nephew’s top choice is choc/banana which just happens to be my specialty. The cry went out for my “world-famous” double banana-chocolate-cream masterpiece.

Why world famous, you ask? Because it’s a combination I’ve concocted perfected over the years, with wild experiments careful testing in my laboratory kitchen.

I have honed the dynamics to a point where they really work together in sweet harmony, or as my youngest son would say, this cake is “boss” (translation: perfect).

It’s a great “event cake.” In other words, it’s a bit flash. This is the sort of dessert that always gets mostly eaten up, the sort of which leftovers are few and far between, and are sometimes even fought over the next day. When I shared the news I was baking it again, on Facebook, one friend requested the recipe. Here it is.

Double Banana-Chocolate-Cream Cake

Method:

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Start with a basic banana cake recipe. I use the one from the Kiwi classic, the Edmonds cook book.

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I double the recipe because I like a nice amount of cake to work with.

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Pour the mixture into a wide baking tray. A flatter, larger tin is best. Once the filling and the icing is added later, the cake becomes substantially higher. I don’t want to end up with a cake that is top-heavy.

*My tip: I use a disposable roasting dish, lined with baking paper. That way, you end up with a nice sized cake for decorating (and you don’t have to do the dishes, if you’re that way inclined – I recycle mine and use them again).

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I need to let this sucker cool completely. Otherwise, I’ll never get it cut in half and turned over cleanly.

*My tip: I always bake the cake the night before the event, so it can cool overnight.

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I cut the cake in half and line one side with sliced bananas.

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*My tip: I spread a thin layer of cream on the bottom half before applying the banana layer. That way, I can move the slices about more easily if I drop one or make a mistake in the pattern. 

*My tip: While blackening bananas can be used for the batter, use only new perfect fruit for the middle layer. As the slices may be partly visible on each slice served.

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Spread a layer of whipped cream over the bananas. Fresh cream is best.

*My tip: I find I can never make this layer thick enough. Even when I buy the big bottle of cream and whip it, and I put a glacier of cream in the middle, it always somehow is never quite enough when it comes to eating it! I try to be ever more generous.

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Put the “lid” on top.

The next secret to this great cake is the icing must be mostly chocolate, no icing sugar as it adds too much sweetness. I use the “Melted Choc Icing” recipe, also in the Edmonds cook book.

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*My tip: The trick is to make the icing first thing in the morning. This icing needs to cool.

Once completely cool to the touch, I beat it until thick and glossy.

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When icing, sometimes I cover the sides altogether so the filling is a surprise. Other times, like this one, I left the middle layer partly visible. Either way, once I’ve cut this delicious dessert, it’s a matter of standing back and watching the stampede.

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*My tip: Get a piece early or I’ll miss out.

I waited too long on the day, as I was busy in the kitchen. I managed to eat one slice later that evening. The next morning, my family returned. Over cups of tea, they ate the leftovers. Before I could turn around, the cake was gone. Sigh. One slice after all that work! However, that’s a sign they loved it – every cook’s dream come true.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, too. If you do, write to me and let me know.

*My tip: I feel obliged to say, remember the “80/20 rule,” friends: eat good, healthy clean food 80% of the time, and you’re allowed 20% goodies. Yay!

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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I attribute my longevity to constant smoking and marrons glaces. – Noel Coward

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The thing about writing humour is that everyone has a different sense of humour.

I remember having a conversation about this with a friend. She said, their family had invited the son’s new girlfriend over, to join them for dinner. After the meal, they thought they’d watch their favourite show, with the idea that laughing would bring them all together. So they put on a comedy which they knew was side-splitting, ‘Little Britain.’ My friend said that she, her husband and sons were rolling off the couch, nearly crying with laughter, while the son’s girlfriend never cracked a smile throughout the whole show.

Humour is personal and deadly serious.

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I promised readers I’d share my journey towards the holy grail of engaging the funny bone. Let’s say, it’s been an interesting process, so far.

In my last post, there was a great moaning, wailing and gnashing of teeth about having to write the material for my humorous speech.

I got some helpful pointers from a number of responders. With regards my first idea for material, which had been my mother and her dementia, a friend on social media – the wonderfully gregarious Lord David Prosser  – countered with a great comment.

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‘If you get the chance to read the Deric Longden story Lost for Words or get the chance to see the TV film that was made starring Dame Thora Hird you’ll see that the subject of dementia can be dealt with i a funny, charming yet sympathetic way. Because we see the humour in a situation doesn’t make us uncaring towards people suffering that illness, it just means the particular situation was funny.’ ~ David Prosser

Thanks, David.

However, for the upcoming Speech Contest, I decided to go with the same topic I covered last year, something I know intimately – being a parent. Since then, after many anxious, feeble attempts at writing it, and wringing of hands, I began to despair I’d ever be able to write anything good ever again!

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I watched footage of award-winning humorous speaker, Jeanne Robertson http://www.jeannerobertson.com (thanks for the link, Jenny), and read a post or two by my friends who write funny blogs, like the self-confessed undie chronicler, Jenny Hansen, https://jennyhansenauthor.wordpress.com/ and sweet blogger, Bun Karyudo, whose excellent “Lovingly Hand-Crafted Humor Blog” is always good for a chuckle.

I thought Bun’s recent post, Teaching My Son to Swim? It’s Just Not Going to Happen https://bunkaryudo.wordpress.com/2016/08/13/teaching-my-son-to-swim-its-just-not-going-to-happen/ was hilarious.

Here’s an excerpt, where his wife is convincing a reluctant Bun why he ought to teach their son to swim:

“When someone makes a promise, isn’t it only right to keep it.”

When someone made a promise, I nodded, it was only right to keep it.

“Right then,” she said, “I promised our son you’d teach him to swim. How can you possibly refuse?”

Bun, however, has a natural gift for turn of comedic phrase. I don’t!

Still stumped, I gazed upon these people’s brilliance and felt unable to produce anything of credibly feather-tickling value myself.

I’ve been having the same conversation everywhere I’ve gone, what makes comedy?

This week, a friend asked me, ‘Look at this way, what makes you laugh?’

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Terrific question. I can tell you, one-liners leave me cold; I prefer it when there’s a storyline, and the humour comes through what happens.

A light went on! I realized that my earlier attempts had failed, because each was basically a series of one-liners strung together.

Yesterday, my two youngest sons left to spend the weekend with their father. Last night, I relaxed and listened to some music, as you do. I was thinking about how different childhood is for kids these days, compared to say, when I was young, or say my parents, or their parents before them.

A few words wafted by me on the wind. If you consider that my grandmother was born in 1901. She lived in the “pre-nuclear age…” I thought, Gran had perfect recall, while I have trouble remembering something from one room of the house to the other… that’s a funny idea! Lucky for me, I was fleet of foot and captured the words before they flew on by.

I had the start to my speech.

The concept of comparing childhoods in our family, from my gran through to my youngest son, gave me the all-important narrative I needed. The rest flowed from there.

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Here’s an example of the content as it stands so far: ‘They say there are more crazy people on the streets these days than ever before, we parents get warnings to keep an eye on our children’s whereabouts at all times. I know my children’s whereabouts – couch one and couch two in our living room, where they can get the wifi.’

Therefore, the raw material for my humorous speech has finally been produced. A labour of love, no less.

Now, I just need to figure out how to deliver the speech to achieve maximum impact. Wish me luck! Any tips for comedic timing/inflection that works,  please let me know! There’s a chocolate fish in it for you (nah, just kidding).

#WhySoManyRules

Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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It is impossible to look cool while picking up a Frisbee. ~ Peter Kay

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Since I put my name forward to compete in a Toastmaster’s “Humorous Speech Contest,” a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been working on the dilemma of material. Or, lack of it. The race has been on to write something funny.

I have spent days wondering what I should write about.

My hairdresser came over to give me a trim. She has her aging parents living with her, one of whom is blind, while the other has Alzheimer’s. The stories she told, of the mishaps going on in their household, had both of us nearly crying with laughter. I thought, ‘this stuff is priceless.’

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I thought about my own family’s hilarious stories, about my mother, and her dementia. I put it to the arbiters of taste in my circle. The resounding answer was, ‘No, don’t go there. Mothers are sacrosanct.’ Then, I read an article the other day, in which a woman, whose mother had died with Alzheimer’s, decried another guy, who had written a piece about his mother “going mad.” She said, it was ‘cruel and inconsiderate’ to mock those whose parents had dementia.

I realized that my first two ideas were hot-button topics! I decided “not to go there.” In a contest situation, the idea is to appeal to the audience, not turn people away.

What is funny?

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I have wracked my brain, and done a bit of research.

I’ve learned from reading various comedian’s blogs that humour comes from the unexpected. We laugh because we’re led to expect one thing but are given the opposite instead.

I began to experiment. Going back to the subject of raising kids for my subject matter, I wrote a short speech.

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According to what I read, one’s success with a “humorous speech” depends less on content than on the delivery. In the latest Toastmasters magazine, it was reported that the speaker, Palmo Carpino advised, if you want to go from good to great, is “It’s not so much about building a library as it is about building your reflexes.” Paul, who is active with the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, says, “This is what usually separates the “ok attempts” scribed into a written speech from the “memorable point illustrated in a memorable manner.”

The next time I saw my nephew, I tried out some of the so-called “funny bits” in my speech on him. He gave me one of those face-spreading smiles you give, when something isn’t really funny. My jokes had flat-lined.

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I reworked the speech completely, remembering the rule of the unexpected. I practiced it again and again, by standing up, marching about and testing the delivery, the pauses, the inflections.

That’s what you have to get just right, the sound and timing of your material.

I tried rearranging each piece so as to take the audience in one direction then, casting about for the punch line which turns the listeners in a different direction. Bouncing it off myself and others.

I’ve received some great tips and ideas from people. The top two would have to be, ‘Just be yourself and let your character shine through.’ A great resource, according to a writer/artist friend of mine, Steve Attkisson, is Gene Perret’s Ten Commandments of Comedy. This is ‘one book that has been instructive and entertaining.’ I intend to withdraw this book from the library, to read next. I know I need help.

Will the audience laugh? Only time will tell!

In the end, I’ll get it right. Meantime, I thought the lessons I’m learning along the way might be valuable. As I figure out how to write a humorous speech, hopefully, what I share via my blog might also benefit someone else. Ain’t the internet cool?

How do you write funny? Any tips to share? Send help. Please. Or chocolate.

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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My advice? You wanna look 20 years younger? Stand further away. ~ Jeff Green

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

‘I have decided to keep a full journal, in the hope that my life will perhaps seem more interesting when it is written down.’ ~ Adrian Mole

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‘Loneliness is a mist

Surrounding me

Enveloping me

Chilling me to the bone!’

(The first stanza from a poem I wrote aged 16)

Always having been interested in writing, I started keeping a journal and recording things on a daily basis from the age of sixteen.

Have you ever tried keeping a journal, a daily log of your life? Here are six very good reasons to start…

1: ‘By putting the thoughts swirling around your head all in one place, it can help you think more clearly about your life circumstances.’ 

It was Joe Bunting, of TheWritePractice who said this quote. He also said, ‘Writing in a journal is a great way to get your thoughts recorded. Although it might not always be the prettiest writing, journaling often provides insight and perspective.’

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2: Journaling is a viable way of doing your “daily pages.”

The teacher and author, Julia Cameron, advocates writers do “the daily pages” and Kate de Goldi, one of my teachers was the same, advocating writing “non-stop for twenty minutes a day,” to keep the writing muscles lubricated and the muse flowing.

3: Keeping a journal gives those of us with overactive imaginations a place to safely vent and release, to process our past, and marshal our thoughts.

One of my former writing tutors, Joy Cowley actively encouraged us to write daily entries, as a way of exorcising the demons and ghosts of childhood. These things needed to come out, she told us. “I see many sad, lonely stories coming out in people’s writing. These sad experiences are still within us, but its therapy writing, these things need to come out. Even accomplished writers will write bleak books that are directly from their own painful childhoods.’

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4: A journal is also an effective tool for getting some perspective on our own selves and insight to our own lives.

I remember an elderly friend of my mother’s, who upon hearing I kept a journal, praised me roundly. She said, ‘It’s a great practice because then you can look back and see patterns in your life and relationships.’

5: And also, our diaries are potential material for future stories or books.

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As Joe Bunting said, ‘Just like your mind is often racing, so is your character’s. If you’re looking for an alternative way to tell a story, there are a couple reasons to try a diary or epistolary format.

‘Writing with a diary or with letters as the story framework can be a good way to challenge yourself and explore different writing formats while continuing to move your story forward. Just be sure that the story structure continues to make sense, and the plot development moves logically in the context of the existing story.’ ~ Liz Bureman

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6: Journals are a terrific way of storing memories.

They keep people alive in a way. How’s this entry I found upon opening my journal from 1994: ‘Tanya rang this morning and after just talking to her for a short while my spirits are soaring. She’s an inspirational woman. She reminds me it’s easy to be happy.’ Although I had no way of knowing at the time, eight years later, Tanya would be dead. Reading snippets about her like this bring her to life and refresh her memory in a whole new way.

*Rule of Thumb*

Yet, in amongst all the happy journaling lies a hidden danger. Be responsible and intelligent about what you’re committing to paper or digital diary.

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I read this cautionary tale over the weekend, in an old magazine I found at my father’s house. ‘I never dreamed of destroying my journals until a friend accidentally discovered a three-page rant his mother had scrawled many years before she died. “My children are takers,” she wrote. “They’re not good-natured. They’re selfish, self-centered, self-indulgent, and only need me when they want money.” ~ Mary Pleshette Willis

Oops!

Let this be your “rule of thumb:” only commit to a journal things you’d be happy with your child accidentally reading.

It is therefore wise to cull one’s collection of journals regularly. I haven’t kept all of them. And some of them I’ve taken great glee in burning on a bonfire at New Year’s! But the important diaries I’ve kept. I will continue to love them, to revisit them. And of course, I continue to write in my current journal every day. A good habit should be hard to break, and it’s how I do my daily pages!

Do you keep a journal? Have you ever kept one? Do you keep yours or throw them away?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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‘Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.’ ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

 

The concept of the internet being “the wild, wild west,” as I have mentioned in previous posts, still holds true. Have you heard of the “Scamazon” posts in circulation on the net at the moment? There is tell of bloggers sharing tactics for how to scam the Kindle Unlimited system.

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A lot of us felt encouraged to join up with the KDP select program. I did. The numbers are enticing.

In the latest Kindle Direct newsletter, the “team” had this to say:

The KDP Select Global Fund for February is $14 million. February’s KDP Select Global will be paid out under Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) v2.0 as previously announced (https://kdp.amazon.com/community/ann.jspa?annID=957). We will again award “KDP Select All-Stars” for February to the most-read authors and most-read titles in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. For more information on All-Stars, you can go here: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A2X66QXB12WV2

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They’re not the only ones, some bloggers support this view. As Chris McMullen said recently on his blog, ‘The KENP pages read rate rose up to $0.00479 per page in February, 2016 up from $0.00411 per page in January, 2016.’

Yet, Amazon is still taking a hit at present in social media forums. Kindle Unlimited was begun rather quickly, and then along the way, ‘Amazon changed the way it pays authors enrolled in KDP Select. Amazon changed that payment method from “per borrow” to “pages read.” Not pages written, mind you – but how many pages a reader actually reads.’ ~ Selena Kitt

This is where the real problems began. As the good old highway robbers and bandits found a way to scam the “pages read” system. Then Amazon jumped to try and staunch the blood loss.

The Internet has been buzzing lately with news relating to the placement of our Table of Contents. Specifically, Amazon is now requesting that we place it at the beginning, not the end of our ebooks. ~ Nicholas C. Rossis

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Author, David Gaughran blogged that ‘Amazon is claiming that having a TOC in the end-matter instead of the front-matter is a breach of the (ever-changing, 100+ pages) Kindle Publishing Guidelines (PDF).’ Gaughran wrote of knowing authors ‘who had their titles actually removed from the Kindle Store without notice.’

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m newly published and I found myself a bit intimidated. I felt the need to circle the wagons. Luckily, my book doesn’t have a table of contents. I had only joined up with KDP Select last month, however I decided the best thing for me was to take my book off the KDP Select shelf, at least for the time being. It felt safer to me in these uncertain times to have my debut release, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta’ available on Kindle Direct only. One platform. One format. No possibility of scammers doing weird stuff.

I went to KDP Select and I couldn’t figure out how to quit the program. Immediately, I went to Amazon via “contact us” and voiced my concerns.

They replied the next day. This is what some people may not know. It came as a surprise to me to find that when I joined the KDP Select program, a box for “automatic renewal” had been ticked. So, if I had not taken these steps to find out the details of the fine print, then my book could have stayed on the program indefinitely.

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Perhaps you were smart enough to figure out you needed to uncheck the box. However what a lot of authors may not know is that you can follow the steps to “uncheck the box,” yet there is only a short three day period at the end of each month in which your book rolls off the program. If you haven’t unchecked the box by then, your book automatically gets renewed again under KDP Select for another month.

Here is the step-by-step advice the response team gave me for how to KDP “De-Select:”

Go to your Bookshelf and click on the ellipsis button (“…”) under the Book Actions menu next to your book, then select “KDP Select Info.”

Then, click “Manage KDP Select Enrollment” and uncheck the box next to “Automatically renew this book’s enrollment in KDP Select for another 90 days.”

Customers who have already borrowed your book can still read it until it’s finished, returned, or their Kindle Unlimited subscription expires. As a result, you may see new Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) read appear in your reports until then. 

That’s it. You’re out.

Has the “Scamazon” situation with TOC effected you? Are you with KDP Select?

Self-portrait, pencil sketch, age 25

Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Sometimes we stare in wonder at your multiplying glories, basking in the power you’ve given us. Other times we regard you with alien horror, and we whisper to one another, I think they make Kindles out of little dead girls. We know you do amazing things. And we’re also really worried about the things you might do. ~ Chuck Wendig

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The Oxford Dictionary tells us that the word ‘end’ means limit, furthest point or part. Once the reader has reached the furthest part of a story, therefore, they will read the end of the book. It has a concrete purpose. Sometimes, however, this all-important part of a story is left out or not handled well. Endings can be tricky.

As readers, we remember the great final chapters and never forget the bad ones.

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There was one book I read as an eight-year-old, which came to a premature stop. An aboriginal girl sat by the fire, having learned her entire tribe had been wiped out. She raised her arms up to the sky, tears streaming down her cheeks. This was followed by the words, “The end.”

Left with too many unanswered questions about the girl with her arms raised in despair, my child heart was reduced to confetti.

At this point in my childhood, I had been in the happy habit of going to the library every week, and I lived with my head in a book. After reading the premature ending in this book however, I distanced myself from reading. It took me six months before I would venture to a library. One day, I picked up my first Laura Ingalls Wilder book, ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ and I fell in love with reading all over again.

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Books are so important to our young readers.

Award-winning author, Kate de Goldi, said of her childhood, ‘Reading was my telescope on the emerging world around me.’

For our young readers especially, after a great story we owe them a good ending. As a writer, I feel I make a promise from the first word I commit to the first page, that I will deliver the reader to the resolution of the story.

Kate de Goldi urged us, ‘Complete what you’ve started. It has to pay off. We have to witness the resolution of the question posed.’

If all stories are about the battle between protagonist and antagonist, physics demands not just beginning and middle, but also end, which is why storytelling feels wrong if it’s either omitted or underplayed. ~ Producer, editor and writer, John Yorke, Into the Woods. As readers, we crave that final ‘feeling of resonance,’ when we finish a story.

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The “feeling of resonance” is what Kiwi author, Joy Cowley, would call, ‘a satisfying ending.’ I agree. However, knowing where to curtail our stories in order to hit that resounding note takes skill.

Here are three tips on how to write a good ending.

*Tip One: Joy Cowley said, ‘Don’t finish immediately after resolution, but don’t have lengthy explanations in the climactic scene. Find “the true ending” because we often begin before the beginning and end after the ending.’

*Tip Two: John Yorke, said, at the conclusion we make sure that ‘the knots of plot are undone and complications unravelled.’

Another New Zealand novelist, Lorraine Ormann put it this way, ‘A story starts out low to the ground, rises with each event, the initial climb is gradual, to the eventual climax, then there is a precipitous drop to the end.’

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*Tip Three: In 1863, the German novelist, Gustav Freytag, gave a formula for the underlying shape of drama. A five step process: exposition, complications, climax, falling action, and catastrophe.

In the fifth stage of catastrophe, ‘the conflict is resolved, whether through disaster and downfall of the hero or through his victory and transfiguration.’

At this stage, according to John Yorke, ‘the (protagonists) are, against all odds, able to defeat their enemies, overcome their flaws and in doing so become complete.’

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‘Needless to say, endings are important,’ Blogger and author, Kristen Lamb wrote. Her method for having a knockout ending? ‘Your novel has thrust a likable, relatable protagonist into a collision course with the Big Boss Troublemaker. The Big Boss Battle must deliver all you (the writer) have been promising. Endings tie up all loose ends and sub-plots and, if we have done our job, will leave the reader a feeling of resonance.’

Now, that’s a good ending.

Are you able to find the true end of your stories? Have you ever felt betrayed by a bad ending?

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Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Just as in the middle of your novel there are only three rules: Escalate! Escalate! Escalate! At the end of your novel, there are only three rules: Payoff! Payoff! Payoff! ~ David Farland