NovelNook Writing Contest – Sponsored by Bellakentuky

Ramblings and a Writing Contest

“When life gets busy, sometimes you just got to strip down to your tighty-whiteys and jump into the pond!” – Kent‘s Grandma

Life has been busy for me over the last few weeks. The result of that is this post – I’m titling…

Bellakentuky’s First Ever

Super Fabulicious Flash Fiction Writing Contest

But don’t let the ridiculous title fool you!

There is some really good food for thought in this article!

I hope it will inspire you!

Today’s post is going to be an exorcism (of sorts) from me, and a writing challenge for you!

Ramblings and Challenges

Photograph by Diana Robinson

In the past week, I had two, very distinct, and quite different, memorable moments occur in my daily life. One of them was a triumph and the other an utter defeat.

The Triumph

I have worked as a photographer for the same company for over ten years; first as the general manager at two of their locations and then later as a freelance photographer. The job has always entailed (among numerous other things) sales. When I was a younger man, I would have bet money that I would never be good at sales. But history has proven me wrong. As it turns out, I’m pretty darn good at sales. What we sell are family photographs (sometimes just their children) – portraits done on the beach here at Hilton Head Island. While this product definitely has intrinsic value, you would think that there would be a cap as to how much someone might spend on this particular product.

Bellakentuky

Photograph by Kent DuFault

Last week, I had the biggest sale of my career. It was the second largest sale in the company’s history. I’m not going to tell you how much it was, but I will tell you that it was in the five figures category. This client, and the ensuing sale came out of nowhere: they made their appointment late, had no lead time to prepare, and they almost made a decision to cancel.

But they bought, and they bought a lot. I kept waiting for the deal to fall apart, for them to change their mind, or for the credit card to be declined. These are all things that have happened to me in the past. But nothing happened. They made their decisions, their credit card went through, and when they left our office…

I was shaking, and I felt victorious!
Ramblings and Challenges

Photograph by Laura Gilmore

The Defeat

My defeat came the very same day. About six weeks ago, my wife and I adopted a puppy. She’s a cute little thing: part Chihuahua and part Boston Terrier. She’s smart. We worked with her constantly on the housebreaking, and she really seemed to be getting it. We slowly allowed her more and more leeway around the house.

Then we discovered it. She had been going in the house all along, but hiding it. What made this particularly defeating was the fact that I knew, that she knew, it was wrong. She was hiding it. Hiding it in part of the house that we rarely visit. It hurt me deep down because I’d had so much confidence in her.

Bellakentuky

The puppy is in jail. Photograph by Lisa Brandt Heckman.

Well, it’s back to square one with her.

She’s now once again confined to her pen where if she chooses to be sneaky, she has to live with it.

The Challenge

I challenge you to write a flash fiction story that incorporates the two above elements: a victory at work and a defeat at home.

These are the rules

  1. It must be 1000 words or less.
  2. It must incorporate a victory at work, and a defeat at home, into the plot.
  3. It must be edited to the best of your ability.
  4. It must be submitted by Midnight, July 15th, 2013.
  5. You must submit it to, kentdufault@yahoo.com.
  6. You must submit it in the body of the email – not an attachment.
  7. You must accept the results of the contest without complaining.

These are the prizes

  1. The winning author will receive a free cover from my graphic designer wife for the writing project of their choice.
  2. The winning story will also be published on the  NovelNook.com blog on August 19, 2013.
  3. The winning story will receive a critique and an explanation as to why I chose it as the winner when it is published on the blog.
  4. The winning author will receive an Amazon Gift Card valued at $20.00 USD (for USA Amazon only)
The Fine Print
  • The cover must be redeemed by December 31, 2013.
  • This is for an electronic Ebook cover only.
  • The book cover will be produced to the cover standards as dictated by Amazon.
  • The prize includes design and illustration. If photography is requested, you will be responsible for purchasing the usage rights.
  • You will get three consultations with the graphic designer via email: An initial interview to convey your ideas, an initial proof round, a second proof round. After that, she delivers, and you take what you get.
  • All rights to your entries remain with you!! We’re asking for nothing but a good (well edited) story and first publication rights for the blog.

Second Place! Will be published on the NovelNook.com blog on August 26, 2013 and will receive a critique by me.

Here is a sample cover that my wife produced for me. I will be publishing this book on Amazon in the near future.

Bellakentuky

Book cover by Clarisa Ponce deLeon

I look forward to reading your stories!

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “Unexplained Mysteries of World War II”, by William B. Breuer

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

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The Wacky World of Literary Devices!

You Have Now Entered the Wacky World of Literary Devices.

For the grand prize you have 60 seconds to answer the following…

(Disclaimer – This is just a joke folks)

What is Hyperbole and name one famous story that makes use of it?

Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock…

You learn forward, grab the microphone, your eyes stare unflinchingly into the crowd as you say –

Hyperbole is the use of over-exaggeration for creating emphasis, or humor, but it is not intended to be taken literally. One example of this story telling technique would be, The Tales of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

the wacky world of literary devices

Photograph by The Arches

Yeah! Excellent Answer!

This idea of looking into literary devices came to me the other day when a companion asked me how to spell allegory. I spelled it out for her flawlessly. But the next question was the one I was dreading…

“What does allegory mean?”

Ummm… ummm…

I didn’t know what it meant.

She giggled at me. “And you’re a writer?”

the wacky world of literary devices

Graphic courtesy of myteachingspirit.blogspot.com

Well that was enough to make me go look it up. But, I would have done that anyway, because I am an extremely inquisitive person, and I love to learn. So, for those of you that don’t know what the literary device, allegory, means –

Here you go!

An allegory is a symbolism device where the meaning of a greater, often abstract, concept is conveyed with the aid of a more corporeal object or idea being used as an example. One famous example of allegory is the book, The Lord of the Flies. This story features a group of schoolboys stuck on an island, and the novel had allegorical representations of rational mind, democracy, order, civility, and many other such abstract terms.

the wacky world of Literary devices

Cover photograph by lordalford.com

I’ll be the first to admit it to anybody. I didn’t go to college for writing. I was born into a working class family. I’ve learned what I’ve managed to learn in life through dedication and hard work.

Many of the literary devices were familiar to me by word, but I didn’t really understand what they meant until I dove into this investigation. I was amazed at how many literary devices exist. There are dozens of them! Just reading through the list and their descriptions got my creative juices flowing.

I want to share some examples

along with their definitions

And some literary works that made use of them

Bildungsroman – This is a very popular form of storytelling whereby the author bases the plot on the overall growth of the central character throughout the timeline of the story. As the story progresses, the subject undergoes noticeable mental, physical, social, emotional, moral, and often spiritual advancement. A very famous example of this literary device is, Gone With The Wind, which was published by Margaret Mitchell in 1936.

the wacky world of literary devices

Photograph by stuffforcrafts.com

Litotes – It is an understated expression where the idea to be expressed is quite significant. Litotes, are defined as ‘an ironical understatement where the affirmative is expressed by the negation of the opposite’. To put it simply, in litotes, instead of saying that something is attractive, you say that it is not unattractive. Litotes are often used to mimic speech, since we lazy humans tend to drop words to make things quicker. Here are some examples:

  • The food is not bad.
  • She is not as young as she was.
  • He is not unlike his dad
Father & Son

He is not unlike his dad. Photograph by Tony Alter

Hubris – Hubris is another way of saying overly arrogant. You can tell the difference between hubris and regular arrogance by the suggestion that the character has seemed to allow reality slip away from them. Hubris is the buildup of arrogance and pride and is generally followed by a catastrophic fall at the end of the story. An excellent example of Hubris is the story, Arabian Nights.

Caesura – involves creating a fracture within a sentence where the two separate parts are distinguishable from one another yet intrinsically linked to one another. The purpose of using a caesura is to create a dramatic pause, which has a strong impact. Finding out about this device means a lot to me personally, because I use this a lot. Here is an example of Caesura; “Ludwig – How your music makes me soar!”

the wacky world of literary devices

Photograph courtesy of parentpreviews.com

Polysyndeton – is a sentence construction in which multiple conjunctions are used in very close succession to infuse a sense of exaggeration. In other words, you use a lot of ‘ands’ to emphasize a point by stretching the sentence out. Here is a great example from Ian Fleming‘s novel, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:

‘Most motor-cars are conglomerations of steel and wire and rubber and plastic, and electricity and oil and petrol and water, and the toffee papers you pushed down the crack in the back seat last Sunday.’

I’ve had a lot of fun studying up on literary devices

And I bet you would too!

Here’s a challenge for you. I’m going to list some literary devices that I’m pretty sure you’ve heard the term. Could you define that term? Could you point to an example that uses the device? Do you use it in your own writing? Might you consider doing that now, after reading this article?

Here you go-

  1. Allusion
  2. Antithesis
  3. Cacophony
  4. Deus ex Machina
  5. oxymoron
  6. simile
  7. syntax
  8. verisimilitude
  9. juxtaposition
  10. epithet

There will be a test on Tuesday.

(Just kidding!)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this discussion. I would also like to encourage you to comment. Tell me if there is any subject matter that you would like me to weigh in on. (what literary device was that?) Keep writing friends!

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “Unexplained Mysteries of World War II”, by William B. Breuer

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

Analyzing Videos – An Amazing Way To Improve Your Writing

Improve Your Writing

By Analyzing existing success stories!

an·a·lyze
/ˈanlˌīz/

Verb

  1. Examine methodically and in detail the constitution or structure of (something, esp. information), typically for purposes of explanation…
  2. Discover or reveal (something) through such examination.
Synonyms: analyse – decompose – construe – dissect – anatomize

There are many tricks, and techniques, that writers use to improve their craft. Today, I would like to talk about one that perhaps you hadn’t thought of – YouTube.

YouTube is one of the world’s most comprehensive websites, for entertainment, ideas, and in this example, an education. You can use their video uploads to find book trailers, book reviews, book readings, movies, movie trailers, movie reviews, comedy sketches, television shows, scenes from television or movies, music videos, poetry readings, etc.

Do you see a common theme here?

They all involve writing!

This is how I like to use YouTube. I research successful examples of writing and analyze them. This is easy to do because you can filter your search results by rating, views, genre, title, industry, and keywords. When you find a video whose ratings, and views, are high, you can bet the farm that there are nuggets of golden information for you to mine from that writing.

Let’s give it a try!

I searched: television, situation comedy, less than 4 minutes run-time. The list came up, and I zoomed through it until I found something that looked interesting.

Here is what I chose –

This particular television show is one of the most successful situation comedies on TV today. Now, you might be saying to yourself, “I could just watch the television show. Why do I need YouTube?” And you’re right, if you’re interested in writing comedy, you should watch the entire television show series. These writers are doing everything right – much can be learned about writing comedy by studying their methods.

The reason I’m advocating the use of YouTube is because it covers many genres and styles of writing. Plus, it saves time. Let’s say you set aside twenty minutes a week to do your YouTube research, in that short period, you could locate videos, watch them, and make notes on writing techniques, and you’d still have time for lunch before you get back to that work in progress! If you find a video that is particularly interesting, you can bookmark it,: and then you return to it over and over. You can also stop the action as you make your notes, or, replay it instantly.

Let’s breakdown this scene

And see what we can learn from it.

(I’m going to illustrate by using notations from my research)
  1. Opening scene – life as usual. Three very different women sit in a car talking. One is mousey. One is bold. One is eccentric. (varying personalities) They have skipped out of work to go to Disneyland.
  2. Comedy elements – The absurd situation of adult women skipping work to go to Disneyland for a princess make-over. The eccentric woman’s over-the-top efforts to escape from work. The bold woman’s lack of concern over deserting her job. Conflict – they argue over who gets to be Cinderella. Funny – the mousey woman turns belligerent over her desire to be Cinderella. Funny – mousey woman pulls a ‘junior high trick’ by threatening to pull her car (toy) from the plan.
  3. Descriptive elements – Eccentric woman – Big Mouth, overtly expressive – happy, facial tics that look like the cat that ate the mouse, slumped shoulders, leaning forward in excitement. Bold woman – Set jaw, distant eyes, lips closed, sarcastic expressions, back straight, little head movement. Mousey woman – Eyes set, business-like expression, some smiles (as a character she fits between the other two – creating a well-rounded character group), at the end of the scene the mousey woman snaps and turns mean (again well-rounded characterization, nobody is all nice or all bad).
  4. Dialog highlights -“Throwing up like a fire hose .” – Excellent metaphor / strong visual impression. “And now I’m going to Disneyland!” – Excellent comedic play off an old phrase that many people would recognize. “I work at The CheeseCake Factory. I said, Bye.” – Funny because of its lack of caring. (Give your characters things they care about and things they don’t care about.) “You’re kidding right? We’re not going to just get drunk and go on rides.” Funny because it creates a mild conflict between the characters expectations of the day. (Give your characters different expectations about the same situation.) “We can’t all be Cinderella.” An unexpected twist – all the characters instantly come to the realization that they want the same thing – conflict. “Well it’s simple. This was my idea. I’m driving. I’m Cinderella. You bitches got a problem with that, we can stop the car right now.” Character change – The mousey woman goes completely out of her normal element in making this statement. (Comedy comes from unexpected change.) Make your characters do something unexpected.
Scene Two – Disneyland
  1. The women are now at Disneyland.
  2. Comedy elements – The women are now dressed as Disney characters, colorful flowing dresses, unusual hair, overt make-up. (Remember to include visual descriptions that will allow your reader to see your characters.) A woman pushing a stroller passes. (Funny because it highlights the absurdity of their situation. Disneyland is geared toward families, not adult women wearing fantasy costumes.  (Think of small clues to add to your story, that are outside the main story-line, yet support your idea.)
  3. Descriptive elements – The eccentric woman and the mousey woman are having fun. The bold woman sits off to the side,by herself, eating popcorn. – conflict (This is a good use of subtle conflict simply by their placement within the scene.)
  4. Dialog Highlights – “I’m Doctor Fowler, and I’m a neuroscientist.” (The professional title does not fit the situation. It creates comedy.) “From an early age, we girls are taught to care about the way we look, rather than, the power of our minds.” (What makes this funny, and quite powerful, is her actions do not match her words.) “Unless you want to be Cinderella.” (This is great because it returns to an earlier funny moment. It supports it and builds on it. Don’t let your characters experience an important situation in a story and then never bring it back up. That would make it unrealistic and lessen the importance of the original event.)
Scene Three – The Aftermath
  1. Overview – Scene three completes a story arc. The comedy comes from the disparate reactions of the men.
  2. Comedy elements – Each husband / boyfriend of the three women returns home from work to find their significant other dressed as a Disney character. (The comedy is derived from their reactions.)
  3. Descriptive elements – When the mousey woman tells her husband that there is a surprise waiting for him. He reacts by hoping that she is dressed as Cinderella. This is a twist and a reveal. We now know that this is a fantasy of their’s, and the mousey woman had an (ulterior motive) the entire time. (Give your characters hidden motives for their actions – reveal those motives late in the story.) As the husband crosses the room to her – this is a superb example of body motion as a comedic element. He galloped across the room, his belly undulating like jello. The Bold woman’s scene creates comedy from her boyfriend’s unexpected response. The mousy woman’s situation creates comedy by her boyfriend’s lack of response. It’s three disparate views, of the same set-up that bring laughs.
  4. Dialog – “Please be Cinderella. Please be Cinderella.” (Unexpected reaction. Desperation.) “What are you doing?” (Unexpected reaction. Exasperation.) “I heard you the first time.” (Expected reaction. Lack of empathy)

Here is what we learned from a simple breakdown of this YouTube video!

  • Even a scene, or a situation, should have a complete story arc.
  • Comedy is derived by unexpected situations or expectations.
  • Each character should have a distinct set of personality traits, but these traits can, and should morph with an unusual situation.
  • Give your characters distinct physical attributes, and they don’t always need to be pretty or handsome.
  • Create metaphors that are extremely visual but fit the scene.
  • Give your characters things that they care about and things that they don’t care about.
  • If there are multiple characters in a scene give them different expectations over the same set of circumstances.
  • Include elements (such as the family passing by in Disneyland) outside the main scene to add realism.
  • Let your characters act differently than what their dialog indicates.
  • Use character placement within a scene to create tension.
  • Don’t let an important event happen in your story and then let it disappear. Return to it later.
  • Have different characters react differently to the same set of circumstances

Not a bad education for twenty minutes of effort!

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “Unexplained Mysteries of World War II”, by William B. Breuer

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

The ‘Value Added Marketing’ of the First Line in your Book

Value Added Marketing

as explained by Shrek

Video courtesy of ryanmorrison31

Marketing Has Layers

Value added marketing

Photography by Joe Gatineau

Marketing is the message that brings buyers to your story.

Imagine marketing as an onion.

Now place yourself in a book store.

You’re walking along the aisle and a cover catches your eye. It looks interesting.

You pick it up. (Layer one, of the marketing onion, has just been peeled away.)

You hold the book in your hand, and then you flip it over to the description on the back. The description tickles your imagination. (Layer two, of the marketing onion, has been peeled away.) You flip the book back to the cover. Your hand opens the book, and your eyes gaze down at the first line of Chapter-One. (You are now staring at the third layer of the marketing onion.)

What is value added marketing?

Value Added Marketing: Creation of a competitive advantage by bundling, combining, or packaging features and benefits that result in greater customer acceptance. (Courtesy of businessdictionary.com)

How does the first line of my book become value added marketing?

Let me tell you a little story

Many years ago, I was visiting a friend. As we chatted, I perused their bookcase. My eyes settled on the spine of an innocuously colored book. It was the typography, title, and author’s name that caught my attention.

I pulled the book from the shelf and looked at the cover. This author is a particular favorite of mine. In fact, I would go so far as to say that two of their books (in that time) were some of my all-time favorite reads. But, I’ve also read some real clunkers by this same author. I stared at the cover; I was intrigued, but not sold.

I flipped the book and read the description on that back. Oh crap, I thought. It was the first book in a long series. If I commit, I’ll be reading this ‘ongoing’ story for months.

At this point, layer one of the marketing onion had succeeded, but barely. However, it did its job because I picked up the book. That’s what cover design is all about. Layer two, the book description, was less successful. It almost cost the author a reader. It was really the author’s reputation that pushed me to move forward to layer three.

This is a really important point. Imagine this scene in your mind; I was within seconds of sliding that book back into it’s slot on the shelf. If I had, there’s a good chance it may never have resurfaced in my life. But, I didn’t. I flipped it open to page one and read the first line. It read –

The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed.

Value added marketing

Photo courtesy of theaudiobookbay.com

By Stephen King

Here is where the concept of value added marketing comes to play.

Mr. King’s first line of, The Gunslinger, induced me to action. The cover got me to pick up the book, the description almost cost him the sale, it was the first line of the story that sold the book. I bought that book within days of reading it at my friend’s house. Then, because The Gunslinger is book one of a seven book series, (and it is superbly written), I went out and bought books two, three, and four about a month later. Finally, about five months later, I bought books five, six, and seven.

Think about this – That first line of, The Gunslinger, was the motivation behind a seven book sale. It had residual value and that’s value added marketing! 

Don’t we wish we could all do that.

I’ve thought about that line many times over the years. What makes it so powerful, so intriguing? The prose is quite simple. I think there are three components that are key to its success –

Antagonist, Protagonist, Conflict

It reveals all three of these elements in a twelve word sentence.
There’s no blood, no violence, no complicated structure

It introduces the Man in Black (mysterious), the Gunslinger (strong mental image), and conflict (the word fled). Stephen King could not have chosen a better word than fled. Even just speaking the word conjures up a feeling that something is about to happen!

There are all kinds of famous first lines and lists of them are plentiful in every corner of the internet. Stephen King’s line from, The Gunslinger, is almost always on the list. It’s that powerful. It sells books. It sells a series of books. For me, it is the epitome of the perfect first line. It has value added marketing!

I don’t know about the rest of you, but every story I write gets considerable processing time for that first line. I want that value added marketing in my books. I want a potential reader to get hooked from my first words and find themselves compelled to buy more of my books because they remember that line.

I’ll share this first line from one of my stories. It’s an unpublished short story titled, You Don’t Shoot No Owls.

Claire Brown, was fourteen years old the first time her daddy stuck a gun in her hand and told her to go shoot something.

value added marketing

Illustration by Clarisa Ponce de Leon

This is my favorite first line (of my creation) to date.

I’m striving for that powerful simplicity that Stephen King captured in The Gunslinger. I know I haven’t hit it yet. But, I keep trying and that’s what’s important.

One other interesting note about, The Dark Tower Series, if I had picked up any of the other volumes that day, their first lines would not have had the same effect.

A fantastic first line is not easy.

Back to value added marketing

I hope that today’s blog will inspire you to consider how important each component of your book is:

  1. Writing an interesting story
  2. Giving that story a powerful first line
  3. Writing a synopsis, tagline, and book description with the same dedication that you wrote the story.
  4. Edit every aspect of your writing, thoroughly
  5. Design your cover carefully

Each of these components bring value added marketing to your efforts. As human beings each of us is unique. We all see things differently. You never know which element, or combination of elements, will click with a book buyer.

And finally, maybe one of your first lines will bring you a dedicated reader. One that will follow your efforts for years to come, just as Stephen King did to me.

I’d love to read some of your favorite “first lines” in our comments section.

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “Unexplained Mysteries of World War II”, by William B. Breuer

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

Authors Allow Yourself to Let Go and Fly Free

I Want To Let Go and Fly Free

authors let go and fly free

Photograph by Matt Preston

But it’s a difficult task for me.

Today, I want to talk about something that is a personal issue when it comes to writing my manuscripts.

I suspect that I’m not alone in this dilemma.

Perhaps, we could consider this group therapy

authors allow yourself to let go and fly free

Group Therapy Illustration by Daneel Ariantho

The group moderator points at me. He says, “Will you please stand, tell us your name, and why you’re here today.” I stand on wobbly chicken legs, steady myself, and trudge to the front of the group. I spin around and see forty-eight pairs of accusing eyes burning a whole in my spirit.

I clear my throat.

“My name is Kent, and I’m a… a… well, for lack of an official term, I’ve made up my own. I’m a revisionist, an over-editor, a re-writer, a chronic restructurer, a plot replacementist, a text evangelist, a perpetual fixit monger, a do-over demon, a prose replenisher-” (I pull out a hankie and blow my nose).

I know it’s wrong to do these things. I’m well read in the reference books for writers.” (I blow my nose again.) “But sometimes, I just can’t help myself. When I begin writing, I try to go back to the place where I left off in the manuscript- And then some line catches my eye. Some perverted, twisted, little fiend of a sentence that calls out to me from two chapters back. It’s seductive, luring me in.

I know I can make it better, I tell myself.” (I’m now in a full-blown cry.) “I tell myself, just this one. I’ll fix this one line! And then I’m going straight to where I left off.”

The Moderator asks, “And do you Kent? Do you fix the one line and then go straight to where you left off, so that you can move forward in your story?”

No! You idiot! That’s why I’m here!

(A murmur rises from the group.) (I’m sobbing.)

No… That one sentence leads to another, and then another, and then… before I know what’s happened, It’s been a month or more, and all I’ve done is rewrite Chapters one through six, several times!

(I’m gasping. It’s getting messy).

The moderator hands me a box of tissues. “Is there anything else you want to tell us, Kent? Is that the extent of it?”

My bulging red eyes are so full of tears, I can barely see him. He looks straight at me, and asks, “You’re a manuscript regurgitater aren’t you?”

I bite my lip Hard before responding, “Wow, I wish I’d thought of that name; that’s a good one.”

“Answer the question please. Confront your demons, Kent. Confront them, and it will allow you to let go and fly free.”

His straightforward pushy attitude emboldens me. I straighten up and look defiantly into the eyes of my accusers.

“It’s true. I am a manuscript regurgitator. I’ve fought this… this weight upon my shoulders for a long time. But recently… recently… it’s turned into a real battle. A story that I wrote two years ago.” (I’m blowing my nose.)

“I put the finishing touches on that manuscript two years ago. But, I keep going back to it, and I read it.

AND EVERY TIME I DO- I WANT TO CHANGE IT AND MAKE IT BETTER! I can’t stop myself. I’ve been working on it for months- A story I finished two freaking years ago!”

The moderator put his hand on my shoulder. “It’s okay, Kent. That’s enough for tonight. Sit down, and the group will show you that you’re not alone.”

I sit down in the back row, bring my knees together, and let my head hang. But, I’m still peeking from the corner of my eye.

The moderator clears his throat. “Is there anyone else here tonight who is a perpetual fixit monger?” Hands went up. “Do any of you battle internal do-over demons?”: I raised my head- more hands went up into the air. “Okay, how many of you are manuscript regurgitators?” Almost all the hands drop.

I sneer. (Whatever)

The moderator points at me with one hand, and another person (whose hand is still raised) with the other.

“I’ll bet one hundred dollars, right now, that you two are perfectionists. Just shake your head, yes.”

We did.

The moderator continued, “Listen to me, and listen to me good.

There is no such thing as perfection. You need to learn to let go and fly free!

If you can’t return to the point in your manuscript, where you left off writing, without starting another rewrite-

Then have someone else get the manuscript to that point for you!

Reward yourself for success! And punish yourself for faltering!

Stick a piece of paper on the wall behind your desk that says, ‘Don’t you dare go back and look, Stupid!

Then, tape another sheet to the wall. On this one write on many edits you think you need to produce the best product possible!

How many edits, Kent? Tell me right now!”

“I need… ten… ten edits.”

“That seems excessive. But we all know you have a problem. So, Kent needs ten edits! Now Kent, you write one through ten on that piece of paper. Every time you edit through your story, you cross off one number until you hit zero. And when you hit zero, you NEVER go back and edit that story again.

Capiche? And if you do- You’re going through the spanking machine! Got it?”

blurry birthday spankings

Group Session Over

Any of this sound familiar to you?

All of this came to a head for me the other night when my wife and I went out for dinner. We were sitting in one of those sports bar type places, where you order burgers, fries, and a beer. Big screen TV‘s splashed with the noise of sports action encompassed us on all sides.

authors let go and fly free

Photograph by The Cable Channel

I was sipping my beer and looking at the screen above us. This particular television had the European Stunt Motocross Championships on it. I watched with mild interest, as I saw a young man fly up over a very large hill of dirt. His motorcycle jettisoned from the peak and flew thirty, maybe forty, feet into the air.

He then did something that made my jaw drop. He let go of the motorcycle.

The television cameras immediately switched to slow motion. I could see the wheels of the bike spinning. The man flew several feet above the motorcycle, his arms spread back into a V shape – like he had wings. He looked like, Superman, flying through the sky.

He sailed above the bike for what seemed like a very long time, then just before the arc finished, and the bike was about to descend, he gently reached down, grabbed the handlebars, and pulled himself back onto the motorcycle. He performed the stunt flawlessly.

Instantly, I wondered what it must have felt like the first time he attempted that stunt.

After a few moments of thought,
I knew the key that would unlock the door to my writing issues.

I visualized that stunt driver’s attitude on life. I discovered that I need to believe in my ability to perform, just like he did. I must have the strength, and courage, to let go and fly free, confident in my ability to land and perform again.

That moment changed my outlook.

All of us, here at NovelNook.com, want you to succeed. Write your best stories possible, edit them to the best of your ability, and then let go and fly free!

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “Unexplained Mysteries of World War II”, by William B. Breuer

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

Bellakentuky

Authors Don’t Shoot Yourself In The Foot

Authors

Think MARKETING from A-Z

You’ve spent a lot of time writing your book. You’ve edited, and edited, and now it’s time to get that story out in front of the public and let the sales begin!

authors

Hopeful Book Sales – Graphic by The Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

But…

A new story begins

The story that I’m about to tell you.

The Story of Marketing

Several days ago my wife was sitting at her computer. She called out to me and asked me to come over to her. She said, that she had something to show me. As I approached, I saw her Kindle lying on her desk. Amazon was open on her computer’s desktop, and I knew she was hunting for books.

“Look at this,” she said. I leaned over her shoulder and stared at the screen. It was a book description. What I read shocked me (you’ll know why in a minute). “Now look at this,” she said. She scrolled up to the cover of the book. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?”

“Yes,” I replied. The cover was very nice.

My wife then scrolled down to the price of the book; it was free. She glanced up at me, acquiring this look in her eye, a look that says she is about to make a very important point.

“I was about to download this book,” she said. “Until I read that.” She pointed at the book’s description. It’s a shame,” she continued, “someone spent a lot of money on that cover. But if that description is any indication of the writing style… I don’t want it, even if it is free. It looks like a teenager wrote that! Don’t you agree?” She raised an eyebrow.

The truth was, I did agree. The cover indicated a beautiful romance novel. It looked like a period story, set perhaps in the 1940’s. The setting was rural, like a ranch, or a farm. All this information was conveyed to us visually (marketing) through the cover of the book.

And then there was the book’s description

authors

Lost Sales – Graphic by Higher-Education-Marketing.com

A book’s description is in a three-way tie for the front-end marketing strategy of your book.

BOOK TITLE / BOOK COVER / BOOK DESCRIPTION

In order to protect the author’s anonymity (the book my wife shared with me) I’m not going to say their name. I’m not going to say the name of their book. I’m not even going to completely show the entire book description.

I am going to pull a couple of lines from that description; just to give you a taste of what I’m talking about –

authors

Image by AllAboutEmotion.blogspot.com

Quote – “Paul had been a decent kid with two younger brothers, a loving mother, and an asshole abusive father.”

Quote – “But Paul stayed and took the abuse until his youngest brother was old enough to get the hell out.”

That’s enough to make my point. It doesn’t matter how well the book was written, how much editing effort went into it, or, even that it has a fancy (professionally produced) cover; the sale was lost because of a poorly written description.

It didn’t fit the feel of the cover.

Here is another example

Several months back, I was looking at my Twitter feed. There is an author there on Twitter who posts constantly all day long. On this particular day, they had posted the title of one of their books. The title sounded interesting, so, I clicked the link, and it took me to Amazon. The cover looked fine, and the title had already grabbed me; I began to read the book’s description.

I was flabbergasted at the poor punctuation, and grammar, in that description.

This particular author has a large presence on Twitter. I wrote them a “direct message,” to keep it private, and told them just what I told you. They wrote me back and told me to mind my own business.

Another lost sale!

The author did well on their front-end marketing with a great title and a decent cover. But, they failed on the back-end marketing; the did not provide a cohesive, well written, and applicable book description, and, they ignored direct feedback from a potential customer.

(Just out of curiosity), I went back and checked the book’s description while writing this article; it’s exactly the same. The author has, however, pumped out three more books in just a couple of months… “Sigh”

authors

Pumping out the books. Graphic by saneandsingle.blogspot.com

Everything you put out in public becomes marketing

Authors, I know many of us don’t know much about marketing and advertising. I know the bit that I do from running my business for many years. Plant these seeds in your head and let them grow!

  • Everything that goes in front of the public eye is marketing – good or bad
  • 98% of the population will notice what you did wrong and only 2% will notice what you did right. Reach for perfection in every aspect of your book, from the largest, and most obvious, to the minuscule.
  • You are authors. You need to carefully edit everything that gets published; even if it’s a Tweet, make it understandable and professional.
  • Pay attention to all aspects of your book: writing it, editing it, writing a synopsis, writing a tagline, producing a cover, writing your book description, doing a written interview or writing a guest blog about it; if you fail on any of these points, it will cost you readers. And…

 You’ll NEVER KNOW how many READERS you LOST

Readers just like my wife

Everybody here at NovelNook.com wants you to succeed. We want you to write great stories, with great editing, and great marketing. We look forward to reading your best efforts!

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “The Stories of Eva Luna”, by Isabel Allende

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

Bellakentuky

Get That Monkey Off Your Back

WRITER’S BLOCK

The mere utterance of these words can send chills down the spine of a wordsmith. It’s the equivalent to a professional baseball player going a hundred games without getting a hit, or a cartoonist that can’t think of anything to draw. It’s a momentary lapse of creativity; it stifles us and brings our output to a halt.

Writer’s block is nasty.

There has been many articles written on this subject, both online, and in print. I’m sure most of us could list techniques we’ve heard of on how to deal with this internal demon.

But today, I would like to offer you an alternative.

The End of Writer's Block

Photograph by Clarisa Ponce de Leon

A solution you may not have heard of!
The Writer's Toolbox

Photograph by Clarisa Ponce de Leon

It’s A Game!

And this is why I want to tell you about it.

  1. It works
  2. It’s fun
  3. It can be done individually or in a group session

This super cool product came to me in the form of an unexpected gift from (you guessed it) my wife. I have to tell you, I don’t generally have a problem with writer’s block, my problems lie more with time management and procrastination. But those issues are for another blog on another day. My wife bought me this gift just because it looked cool. And you know what? It does. It has a slick, fun to touch box; everything about the product is designed well and visually stimulating. I use it because it’s fun, and it has helped me develop some really fantastic story ideas.

Let me introduce you to – The Writer‘s Toolbox
Take a look at what’s inside.
The Toolbox Contents

Photography by Clarisa Ponce de Leon

The first thing you will want to do is peruse the guidebook. It talks about the elements of story. It gives detailed information about the tools that are included, and it outlines a number of stimulating games to unfreeze that frozen brain. There is so much information packed in there, it’s too much to cover in one blog.

So, what I’ve decided to do is pick one game, describe it to you, play the game myself, and share the results.

The First Sentence to the Last Straw game

There are three types of sticks included in the set. There is the, “FS”, First Sentence Stick, the, “NS”, Non Sequitur Stick, and the, “LS“, Last Straw Stick.

Sticks

Photograph by Clarisa Ponce de Leon

You begin the game by drawing a, First Sentence Stick. Once you have your stick you have 3-6 minutes (I use six minutes) to write a piece of fiction that begins with the line on your stick. Here is my First Sentence Stick.

The FS Stick

Photograph by Clarisa Ponce de Leon

This is what I wrote

There she was, Amy Gerstein, over by the pool, kissing my father. My heart sank, even though I knew that our shapely neighbor had subversive intentions, and it really wasn’t my dad’s fault as she had pinned him down with her bikini-clad bottom. But, my suspicions were well founded; because nobody can smell like lilacs every day of the year and be totally on the up and up.

I hid behind Dad’s new stainless steel grill, the one with the special tongs and flipper attachment, and clenched my fists. Old barbecue sauce stuck to my nose as I tilted my head to get a better view.

Dad appeared nervous.

Amy moved and sat down next to him; her long legs stretched out, gleaming orangey-brown in the afternoon sun.

I could hear Mom singing to herself in the kitchen behind me.

Amy’s a bitch, and I’m going to find out what she’s up to- no matter what it takes.

Amy laughed, and my father looked her way. His eyes grew wide, when he peered past the vixen and saw me hiding behind his prized possession.

Time is up!

Now, It’s time to draw a Non Sequitur Stick. The rules state that you must begin the next section of writing with the sentence on that stick. Once again, you have 3-6 minutes. It also states that once your time is up you can draw another NS Stick and keep writing in timed segments. For our purposes here, we will draw one stick.

The NS Stick

Photograph by Clarisa Ponce de Leon

Here is where my NS Stick took me

Margaret had a habit of spitting. It began to get on my nerves. But, the moment she entered the backyard all that changed.

Margaret is my best friend; she has been for six years, ever since we entered the first grade. She’s a strange duck, no doubt about it. But, her peculiarity intrigues me.

I had no idea what was about to happen until she walked right up to Gerstein and placed her hands on her hips.

Oh, no! I thought.

I’ve witnessed my friend taking this posture on the playground.

Oh, no! I thought again. But this time it was followed by a serious giggle.

It happened right in front of my eyes. My best friend hawked up the nastiest snot-ball on the face of the planet, and she deposited it right on Amy Gerstein’s forehead, a little bit even sprayed across Amy’s stupidly large sunglasses.

I’m sure Gerstein’s bloodcurdling scream was heard for blocks.

My father jumped to his feet in an effort to do something, God knows what, because Gerstein had already sprinted for her house.

Margaret walked over to me, and I timidly left my hiding spot.

She smiled.

Time is up, again!

And Now… The Last Sentence Stick

The LS stick gives you a final line and you must move your story in the direction of whatever it says and complete your story arc. I usually include the line right into my story; it makes it more challenging for me.

Here is my LS Stick
The LS Stick

Photograph by Clarisa Ponce de Leon

This game is just one of many that are listed in the booklet. If you have writer friends, it would be an awesome party game. It doesn’t take long, and it’s really fun to see what everyone comes up with. If you’re interested in this superbly craft, awesomely designed, and super cool tool- click the link below.

The Writer’s Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the ‘Write’ Side of Your Brain

Everyone here at NovelNook.com wants you to succeed.

Writer’s Block can be debilitating. We hope you found this article fun and informative.

And when you finish your masterpiece, please submit it for review. We’d love to help you get published.

Wondering what happened with the story?

Click my Facebook link below, and I’ll provide a link to the entire story. While you’re on Facebook- Why don’t you connect with me by liking my Author page. I always try to inform and entertain.

I am very opinionated about the craft of writing, and life in general. But… I am well-tempered with an enthusiasm for debate. Please leave comments, even the ugly ones, I dare you.

You can follow me at

Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn     Pinterest     Amazon

I’m also an avid reader. If you desire success in your writing career, you should be too.

I’m currently reading, “The Stories of Eva Luna”, by Isabel Allende

All my best on a beautiful day in South Carolina.

Bellakentuky