Saturday, September 30, 2017

Tropical Depression Costume Idea

I said I wasn't sure what I am going to be for Halloween, but that I did have some ideas in mind. Well, just yesterday I decided what I am doing after seeing the photo below from this blog:

Witch, Emo Roker, Tommy Lee, Mad Scientist and yours truly dressed as a Tropical Depression (That's a bottle of Prozac I have in my hand).

I Googled "Prozac costume" to see what would result from the search and this was one of the things that came up. The girl on the right is, as the caption says, a tropical depression. I then decided to steal this idea.  

As far as I can see, there are no pre-made costumes with this name. And if there were any, they would  be of the "sexy" variety, since that seems to be mandatory  for women's costumes these days. I can't imagine what this one would look like.  I try my best to avoid this trend. And I have yet to be mocked for dressing modestly. Have this really happened to any of you women out there?

And today at Goodwill I found everything I want to use for my getup. Will tell more on this later.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Catchy Titles Are Just the Beginning


"Who Brought Botany"

"What Made My Million"
"When Were We Winners"
"Where Are the Fun People"
"Why Do We Rush"
The main aspect in marketing is visual. Once you've caught someone's eye, there are a number of reasons you've succeeded. Either you've caught their interest, or you were simply OUT THERE with size, color or text. When I think of personality and content, I like to set the mood from instinct.
Many different examples of mood come to mind, first of all. Your target audience may appreciate classical images, graffiti, cartoons, photography, surrealism, abstract images, interesting text such as calligraphy, oil paintings or representations of any fine art.
Visuals are emphasized by a background that attracts the mood of your interested party. You may be selling a novel with a story-line set at the ocean-side and would succeed with shades of aqua and blue on your book-cover, because the feeling of water and breeze is right there at the onset. You may have written a nature study and will, of course, draw an interested audience with all sorts of beautiful green trees or plants and something fascinating seen upon closer inspection.
Colors to go with for most readers are warm browns, black emphasized by important variations (such as gold) and green. These are, in fact, the colors from which paper derives, and where trees have participated in lending knowledge.
"I Would Pay Per Chairman of the Board"
A title is thought of most effectively after one has imagined the entire plot or context of a book. Perhaps after writing a few chapters, one may ad-lib into success from a perfect name that occurs to one part-way through the imagined adventure. You're writing along and one word really hits you. It's powerful.
Let's think of a few really famous movie titles that everyone remembers:
"Gone With the Wind"
"West Side Story"
"The Sound of Music"
"It's a Wonderful Life"
Three to four syllables there seems quite memorable. Then again, you may be writing a very clever narrative that would succeed with a long, clever phrase:
"I Didn't Know You Liked Pistachio Praline Every Sunday"
A cook-book cover would want to remind the reader right away of their favorite recipes therein. A How-To on Building or Gardening would need to stand out as unique amongst all the rest. Yours is special. Yours in more interesting or easier to follow. You know best. (If that's not true, write something else?)
Let's say you've written a romance novel and have noticed that ALL the other romance novels show a beautifully crafted picture of a couple embracing. How will yours fit in and stand out at the same time? TITLE.
"SHE WANTED ME" (red aurora script on black with a rose)
"WE EMBRACED 'TIL DAWN" (satin sheets background)

When you have a title and book-cover that sells what you have in it, you've accomplished something akin to a person "dressed for success" who's working on a business deal in person. You've worn the right gown at the Beauty Pageant and it's expected as well.

As you may have seen in some of my previous blogposts, this is what I chose as amy memoir title: 
Delays and Detours on the Road to Prozac: A Memoir of Depression and Anxiety

Some days ago, I came across this site that tells you what the chances your title has of becoming a best seller and this was my result:

The title Delays and Detours on the Road to Prozac: A Memoir of Depression and Anxiety has a 22.9% chance of being a bestselling title!
Sounds a bit discouraging, but titles aren't everything, just the beginning as stated in the article above. I now wonder if I'm going to have to change it. I like what I came up with and many of those I told this to have thought it's good title as well. How do you view this title?

And today, while Googling "title generators" I came across this post (the comments are closed, unfortunately):
The Chick-Lit Book Title Generator TaraSparlingWrites
Crime Thriller Book Title Generator TaraSparlingWritesBrainy Lit-Fic Title Generator TaraSparlingWrites
Autobiography Book Title Generator TaraSparlingWrites
The Christmas Book Title Generator
Here are mine:

Chick-Lit: If Hearts Would Sail
Crime Thriller: The Shadow Path
Literary Fiction: The Petrified Deviling in Hollister
Autobiography: My Fearless Battle
Christmas Book: If Snowflakes Would Whisper

How do these sound to you? What did you get for your titles?

I've been working more on my diary novel, but has not come up with book title yet. But each chapter (or are they called entries?) has a title so far.  One is this:
Preparing for Life Behind Bars

Click here to see what this refers to (I mentioned this in another post).

How does this sound to you?


Monday, September 25, 2017

The Qualities That All Good Writers Have


The Qualities That All Good Writers Have - Writer's

Being a writer requires many different skills. Do you have the qualities that are usually found in great writers? See if these sound like you.
Good writers have:

High emotional intelligence
One of the most important things a writer must do is captivate their readers. To do so, they need to understand what draws people in. Being able to capture and express emotions in their writing is crucial. A reader needs to feel emotionally connected to the characters in a story, so a writer needs to be perceptive about emotions and use their emotional intelligence to create empathetic characters.

Lots of discipline.
Great writers are extremely disciplined individuals - they have to be. Writing is an art and something which takes time, dedication and practice to get right. No one can make a writer write, so without self-discipline it is so hard to continue to get things done.

A love of words. 
Writers love language and find words truly fascinating. A good writer is always exploring and testing language and discovering unusual and unique ways to use it in their work. Finding ways to improve their vocabulary and to perfectly capture a feeling or an image by using words is a writer’s greatest joy.

A profound interest in people. 
Writers don’t have to love people, but they do need to be interested in them. Great books come alive because of the incredible characters within them. Writers only write astonishing characters by keenly observing people all around them and taking what they see and hear in real life, and translating this effectively onto the page.

Incredible imaginations.
Excellent writing requires a vivid and extraordinary imagination. Writers make up entire people, with entire lives living in entirely made up worlds. While writers use their own experiences, feelings and what they observe in the world around them in their books, it is their use of imagination that gives their stories life and excitement and makes them truly magical.

Bags of creativity. 
Being creative is part of a writer’s life. Being creative is all about seeing the world in new and interesting ways, in problem-solving, being innovative, using initiative, finding connections and being imaginative.

Excellent observational skills. 
Writers are like sponges. They keep their eyes and ears open all the time. They watch and absorb everything, from the way people interact and talk to how the sky looks just before the sun appears. They observe it all and try to find the words to describe what they have seen.

Writers have the constant challenge of being their own bosses, or managing their own time, of having to market themselves, and organise themselves - let alone find any time actually to write. Being self-motivated is a huge part of any writers life and the more self-motivation a writer has, the better they will be.

These are some of the qualities found in all great writers - what qualities do you think great writers should have? Share them with us here!

I must admit self-motivation and lots of discipline are the areas in which I am the weakest, but I do my best at these when I need to. I haven't been writing much in the last day or two except my on blog. But that's still something. I want to get back on one of the stories I am working on soon.
As for trying to absorb everything--I still haven't gotten into the habit of taking a notebook with me wherever I go. I may try to remember things I saw away from home when I get home, but I don't always remember to do so. Most often only if I see something I absolutely want to recall. I've wanted to try using dreams, but can only vaguely recall them the next day.  Right now, I'm trying to remember a dream I had one or two nights ago! I'm going to try even harder on this one.
But I have always been creative and imaginative probably one of the reasons I have found myself writing. It's too bad I didn't write down some of the imaginative ideas I have had. But now I'm trying to do more of that.
I like people, but have been more of an introvert and a loner. Going to the mental health center where I work has helped me make better acquaintances. I spend as much time as I have to when I work, and as much time as I want when not working. 
I try not to repeat words or phrases in the same paragraph or sentence when I can use an alternative phrase or word that can mean the same thing. 
I've done the best I can to capture emotions. Trying to remember emotions I had in the past can be tricky, so I try to say what I think best emotionally describes the action mentioned. 
How many of these qualities do you feel you possess?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Questionable Items in Goodwill Halloween Section

Every year, when I go scanning the racks at Goodwill for possible Halloween costume ideas, I look in what Goodwill has labeled the costume rack and see things that could be used for costumes and stuff that seems to just get thrown on the rack because it looks bizarre and like it could somehow be transformed into a costume. These clothes get tossed in alongside used ninja costumes without the sword or French maid dresses missing the apron and pinstriped tuxedos that may be used gangster costumes or may be real tuxedos. This can be hard to tell, as with the tuxedo in the pictures below.

One thing that turns up every year in these tracks are the graduation robes. I once used two of these to make  half-devil/half-angel costume.  A red one and a white one, of course.  I can see red, white, black or even purple robes used for a devil, angel, wizard and such. But what of the orange and green ones? What would costumes might these color be used for? Renaissance dresses maybe? What might you do?

Take a look at this striped dress. I guess you could pass it off as a prisoner costume since it is black and white striped. It's a bit long, but certainly more appropriate that those sexy prison costumes you see for sale at stores and online.

And just what is this multicolored shirt supposed to be used for? It seems to have just gotten put in the Halloween rack because it is so bright and colorful.  A clown costume maybe? But then clown costumes are usually striped or polka-dotted. This would look bit weird, I think. How about you?

And below is a used lab coat, a real one with an actual person's name and degree stitched into it. I have nothing against using such an item for a mad scientist, doctor or whatever costumes require a lab coat. It's amazing, though how many of these turn up in these racks.

There are certainly other weird and questionable items in what Goodwill calls the Halloween racks. This is just scratching the surface.  In years pasts, I've blogged about this, including here, here, and here.  Same thing happens every year.

And I think I should mention wedding dresses in the racks as well. These seems like something someone might use to be the Bride of Frankenstein or any gothic character, but I personally would have a hard time wearing these out to parties.  If I personally wanted to be a bride character, I would use a white graduation gown, and make it look like a bridal dress. It's be a lot less bulky and easier to wear to more than one event, if that is what you have planned, and easier to repeat for each event than making a toilet-paper bride costume. The toilet-paper bride would also be problematic if rain is expected in your neighborhood on Halloween night. In my neighborhood, you never can tell what the weather in late October will be like. Right now it's still summer-like weather, even though the first day of fall was two days ago. Pretty typical whether in this area.

BTW, I still haven't decided on a costume. It's till only September after all. But I do have some things in mind and will let you know another time.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

What You’ll Learn From Doing a Book Tour


What You'll Learn From Doing A Book Tour - Writer's

Doing your first book tour is an incredibly exciting time for any writer, if not a little nerve-wracking too! While it can be a fantastic way to market your writing, gain new readers and sell your book, doing a book tour can also be very demanding!
Here are some of the things you’ll probably learn when doing a book tour, and if you haven’t done one already, learn from them now so you’ll be even better prepared when you do!
You are a salesperson

You might think of yourself as a writer first and foremost, but when you go on a book tour that changes. You are a salesperson, and you need to get your game face on. To be a good salesperson, you need to:
- Believe in your book. Now is not the time to be self-deprecating and coy, tell people why your book is good, and why they should buy a copy.
- Be a good spokesperson. Know how to sell yourself and your work, be personable, friendly and approachable - a big smile goes a long way.
- Know how to close a deal. Being chatty is great, but at some point, you need to try and get a person to buy your book. If you can tell they aren’t going to, try to gently move them along.

Never miss an opportunity to sell. Take your books with you wherever you go, talk to people outside of your book tour locations, keep in mind that this is a business trip and the more books you sell, the more successful you’ll be.

You need to remember to bring certain things with you to every location:
You may end up sitting in the same spot for several hours, so it’s important to be prepared. The excitement of a book tour can make you forget even the most important items so before you leave each day make sure you have:
  • Copies of your book
  • Your business card
  • A pen
  • Some water
  • A list to collect email addresses

What you wear is important
Make an effort when you go on your book tour. You don’t need to wear a business suit, but if you dress smartly and look presentable, it shows that you care, that this is important to you, and people are more likely to take you seriously too.

Planning is necessary
Plan where you are going to stay, what you are going to bring, where you are going to eat, and how you intend to get to and from every location. There is nothing worse than rushing, turning up late, or finishing a session exhausted but still having to find a place to crash for the night, so be as organised as you possibly can be.

You’ll need to keep hydrated and eat right
Staying healthy on a book tour is so important. It’s easy to forget to eat, to not drink enough or get enough sleep but if you don’t at least make an effort to eat right and get some shut-eye, you’ll end up feeling (and looking) completely wiped out by the end of the tour.

You need to market your tour like nothing on earth
Do anything and everything you can to market your book tour. Research the locations you are going to and come up with ingenious ways to market your book. There may be some days where you get a disappointing turnout, but if you know you have done your best to get the word out, that’s all you can do.

Downtime is necessary
If you are travelling to new locations, it’s a good idea to plan your time so you can explore new places. You’ll probably have some time to kill in-between going to different places so use it wisely and have fun!

Saying thank you goes a long way
Remember to thank everyone who was involved in making your book tour a success. Not only the people who bought your book but the managers of the bookstores and other locations you went to and anyone else you can think of too. Keeping people onside will mean they will be more willing to have you back another time and organising your next book tour will be so much easier.

Planning a book tour is an exhilarating time. However, it’s important to be as prepared as possible. What lessons have you learnt from going on a book tour? Share them with us here!

Another area I'm not ready to get to since I'm still stuck in the finding an editor part. But I often tend to think too far ahead, and sometime ago, I began thinking of places near me that would be ideal venues for a book signing. Not just for me, but for anyone in my town. The local coffee shop would be ideal, as would the bar I frequent for karaoke. The bar wonder who write her memoir naturally had a book signing at the bar, and I'm sure she'd let me do the same. And the nearest Barnes and Noble to me is in Gilroy, California, right next to where I live. I've already seen each of these as possible sites for a book signing. And so many of my old classmates live in the Bay Area, so I'd definitely like to do a signing in San Francisco or somewhere near the city by the bay. 

I'd love to be on a book tour one day. I will get to visit some cities I've never been to before. I know it's too early to think about this, but I know that will be part of any such tour. And I'd definitely like to have some breaks to explore sights and sounds in cities I've never been to. Everyone added to take a break from everything. This would be one way to have fun in addition to signing your book.

Selling will be the biggest challenge for me when this time comes. I'm normally a quiet person, and this will be something to help me in that area. I will speak as best as I can.

I definitely look forward to having doing a book tour one day.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Prepare Yourself Mentally for Writing a Book


Show information about the snippet editorYou can click on each element in the preview to jump to the Snippet Editor. SEO title preview: Prepare Yourself Mentally For Writing A Book - Writer's

Deciding to write a book is an enormous challenge, and in fact, sadly, many people who set out to write a novel never actually get close to finishing.
One of the things you can do to make sure you do complete your book is to prepare yourself mentally for the road ahead. You need to feel passionate and committed as well as being aware of the challenges you may face and realistic about what it really means to write a novel.
So what can you do to get yourself in the right frame of mind for writing? Try these tips:

Decide to commit
Before you start writing your novel truly decide to commit to it. No matter how long it takes or how difficult it gets tell yourself that you will keep going. Focusing on this and making a promise to yourself to do so will help you set out in the right frame of mind. Tell friends and family about your decision too - the more people you tell, the less likely you are to go back on your word.

Be clear about why you are writing this story
Understanding your motivation for writing your story is also helpful. It might be that you have been carrying around this story with you and have always wanted to tell it, it might be that you woke up in the middle of the night struck with an entirely random idea, or it might be that you just want to give it a go. Be clear about your motivation and your expectations too.

Make a realistic plan
Having a proper plan in place before you begin will help you to realistically map out exactly what you have to do to complete your book, and the time it will take to do so. You can then set yourself goals and deadlines to keep you on track.

Familiarize yourself with common challenges and think about how you might overcome them
There are many obstacles that all writers will face on their writing journeys. Read and learn about them and think about what you will do when faced with them. Having solutions already in place means you will be better equipped to deal with challenges as and when they arrive.

Be a bad writer
Understand that you are unlikely to be this brilliant writer as soon as you start. Good writing is a process; first drafts are usually bad. Accepting that some of your writing might be terrible and may well make you cringe is a good place to start from. At the beginning just focus on getting your writing down instead of making it amazing.

Buy lots of books to read
Reading is one of the most helpful things a writer can do. Buy lots of books that you think will inspire and influence you, before you start your book. This way you’ll always have something new to pick up and will keep reading alongside the writing process.

Get help
Get a writing buddy to keep you motivated and to share work and ideas with along the way. A writing buddy will mean you are more likely to keep writing. Also sourcing other people to help you such as writers groups, online forums, editors, cover designers and anyone else you might need before you start will keep you organised and on track and leave more time to focus on your writing.

Enjoy the journey!
Remember, writing is supposed to be a positive experience, and it’s good always to remember that. Start writing with a great attitude, and try to think of obstacles as exciting challenges you must find solutions too. The more you enjoy the journey, the more like you are to keep on going!

Doing the above before you even put pen to paper can help you focus and stay committed to your writing. This way you are far more likely to achieve your goals and enjoy the process of working towards them too.

I feel I was prepared in most of these areas. Though I'm not too sure about the "familiarize yourself with common challenges" one. And I'm still unable to find writing partners or a group. I saw that there is a writing workshop at the local arts council center, but it's on Wednesday nights and will conflict with the Advanced Memoir Writing Class that I plan to take (I sent in the registration for that class yesterday), at least for the six weeks that the memoir writing class will run. 

And I didn't try to map out a plan as described above, as I was not aware of this idea when I first started writing. So I guess not knowing that one set me back a little in trying to get to the next step in finding an editor. But I won't let it stop me from trying. Just knowing where to look is what has been difficult. 

Despite all this, I think I can continue. I just didn't know about these preparations until today.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Black Cat Peeps!

It's not even October yet and I'm already starting to think about Halloween. But that may be since it's been in the stores since August. I've already indulged on bag of candy corn and know it won't be the last one this season.

Today at Target I saw the Halloween Marshmallow Peeps and among them were the Black Cat Peeps. I haven't seen these ones in about 10 years. I always see the pumpkin and the ghost peeps, though and about two years ago first noticed the tombstone peeps and last year was the first time I saw the green monster head ones.

I could not believe I found them, so I had to get some. I know they won't be the last ones I get this season. It's still only September after all.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Writing Lessons Worth Remembering

Writing Lessons Worth Remembering - Writer's

When it comes to our writing, we all have different ways of working best. Because of this it 's hard to give writing advice that is going to suit everyone. There is no one size fits all’ approach to writing, and, for many writers, it is most helpful to try and experiment with different methods and approaches until they find the way that makes them their most effective, productive and brilliant.

However, to get there writers may need to try writing in different ways, at different times, in different places and so on, to discover how to be at their writing best. It’s also important to remember that there is always more to learn and new avenues to explore when it comes to our writing. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep testing and pushing yourself - that way you’ll never end up stagnant and will always be improving.

With that in mind, here are some tips that every writer should try.

Stop writing linearly
Try writing your next piece not in chronological order. You may find this incredibly refreshing and your ability to concentrate on each scene as a standalone piece will improve - which may make for a better story overall.

Work on different projects at the same time
It can be easy to get writing fatigue if we focus all our energy on just one project. OK, so your book might be your pride and joy and the thing you want to concentrate on the most - but have a couple of smaller, side projects on the go as well. This way you can take a break from your novel, and gain some distance from it, without stopping writing altogether - and then return to it with renewed energy and enthusiasm when you’re ready.

Switch between writing and editing
If you write your entire book without looking back, editing it will seem like a mammoth and somewhat overwhelming task. Try writing a chapter at a time and then editing it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but at least when you reach the end of your novel, you will know you have already edited out the most common mistakes.

Always get feedback
Writers all need to get feedback on their work, and learn how to take it if it’s helpful, or reject it if it’s useless!

Read both good and bad literature
Understanding the differences between good and bad literature will help you ensure yours is the former! Therefore, don’t just restrict yourself to reading incredible books. Pick some you think might be terrible too - you can learn just as many lessons from these.

Write down your writing goals, and create deadlines
Having clear, visual writing goals and deadlines to achieve them will keep you moving forward and pushing yourself to achieve that next writing milestone.

Be organised
When it comes to time management, research, having a tidy workspace, being productive, and editing and marketing your book, the thing that will help you the most is being organised. An efficient organiser will have plans, timelines, deadlines and will always be one step ahead of themselves. Being organised will stop you panicking or becoming overwhelmed and will help you to approach each stage of your writing with a clear head and a sense of purpose.

Have patience, positivity and determination
Learning how to remain positive every day will stop you from wasting your time despairing or becoming overly critical. Having determination will keep you going even when you feel like giving up, and being patient will stop you from rushing and allow you to remain calm in those long waits when you have sent your book to publishers and editors and are hoping for a response.

These writing tips are certainly worth taking on board. Some are just good advice, and some are more practical and may not work for you. But good writing is all about testing and experimenting, so why not give them a go and see if they improve your writing and help you to become more effective?

It seems I have already been following some of these tips, namely the first two. When I began writing my memoir, I began thinking in terms of subjects rather than time frames. Some subjects I recalled seemed to take place over different periods of time. In two cases, a chapter is devoted to a particular year,  including on 2001 in the months and days leading up to 9/11. One family friend said there was too much jumping around, that I should follow a timeline. Upon hearing this, I panicked at the thought of having to start over again, but then decided I didn't have to. Sometime later, I saw something about not writing memoirs in chronological order. Before seeing that, though, I had also decided that the way I had written it seemed best for me. No one else who has seen my story has commented on the lack of chronology, so I guess I've done all right.
And I have been working on two different stories at once, but have been away from the memoir for  while now, occasionally glancing at the document saved on my computer. And it's been days since I last worked on the diary novel I have been trying.  
I did do a lot of editing of the memoir and still am not done yet. I think I have said all I want to say, but fear that the next time i go over it, I'll see something I want to put in or take out (mostly put in). 
I've been trying to get feedback, but if you seen some of my other posts, finding someone to get feedback from hasn't been easy. There are not enough writers around where I live and so few others seem interested in reading what I have written. As for those to whom I did send the original more than a year, only a small number responded then.
Trying to create deadlines is one I haven't tried. But perhaps It's one of those that won't work for me, since the article says that not all the tips mentioned will work for all people.