Characters need conflict

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I really liked this graphic (but can’t remember where I found it). But it speaks to the point of what we need our characters to do in our stories; to develop.

In a twisted way, its our job, as authors, to push those characters to their breaking point, even beyond that point, because its through that we evolve.

They need to suffer a bit, just as we do in Life, to see where those strengths lie. Without conflicts, we grow complacent. Characters need the battles, the strive, and the struggles.

Without conflicts, there is no story.

Writer’s Prompt: Consider your own struggles. What of the three things did you choose as a result of that struggle? Did you overcome, grow stronger, fall apart, retreat, or did you find yourself defined?

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My Writing Space with Tips

003I decided to write about my writing space; otherwise known my ‘magical space’. Its not just for writing, though, but also work and homeschool.  I even keep a tiny altar for my spiritual well being.

My office is my sanctuary; it provides me respite for creativity and work. When not homeschooling my son, I’m writing, scrapbooking, crafting, blogging, organizing my meetups, or compiling all sorts of cool things I want to do (this is why I rarely if ever get bored).

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My first tip is using Command Cord Clips . You can use any type of hook but these specific types are for cords. I use this for my tablet recharging cord so it doesn’t keep falling on the floor.

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I have a number of storage drawers, the clear plastic kind, that can be boring and cheap looking. I use scrapbook paper inside the drawers to add a consistent look and color to my office shelves.  The labels I made from printer paper, but you can also use a Label Maker to organize your drawer’s contents. You can also use a dry board erasable marker. If the marker doesn’t seem to wipe off, use rubbing alcohol- it comes right off.

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This looks like an ordinary box (like a wrapped present), doesn’t it? But it serves a dual purpose. I can use it as a tiny shelf for my desk, but it also hides the surge protector I keep on the desk.

I often plug and unplug things like my iPhone, my Silhouette Portrait die cut machine, and and Fitbit thing to charge. But I also have my landline phone, routers, and answering machine all plugged into this thing. The box hides it all.

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See that mess? It gets all covered up nicely. And how I made it was easy;

Take a box that is large enough to cover the surge protector.

Cut out the ends so the cords can go in and out of it. You could cut holes, or cut out the back of it. You just need that space so the cords can go in leaving the box to sit flat.

Cover the box with wrapping paper, duct tape (there’s tons of neat colors now), or contact paper. Now viola! You have a surge protector all hidden from sight, while providing a tiny shelf on the desk.

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I live by my dry board on the wall next to me. I used my die cut machine to make the words ‘to do list’ and the flourish, as well s the divider. The top lists things I MUST do such as work, projects, and appointments. The bottom, I put my chores like washing dishes, walking my dog, or taking out the trash.

The corkboard includes all the writing projects, craft ideas, and my weekly schedule I make each Sunday.

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A larger command hook lets me hang up the headset I use on the wall within reach. It keeps it out of the way.

Take note of the bread tie used to keep the cord wrapped up.

Another vital tip I can share is using a USB hub. These are cheap and easy to use. You can plug in any USB compatible thing such as flash drives, printers, cameras, computer mouse, and so forth, up to 127 devices on one USB port. This lets you expand your computer/laptop.

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I have a four port hub plugged into my laptop which includes my wireless keyboard, mouse, printer, and die cut machine (not plugged in the photo). I can then unplug the hub…

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And plug into my Surface Pro tablet, and BAM! I can use the keyboard, mouse, and printer.

I prefer my wireless keyboard much better than the tablet’s keyboard (or touch screen) for writing.

I can also share an organizing tip I continually find on the ‘organizational tips’ online;

Stuff you don’t use regularly, gets put away and out of site. Things you use regularly need to placed in a ‘zone’, so when its time to put away, you know exactly where it goes.

I have a shelf for manuals and meetup stuff, with another shelf for craft projects, and another shelf dedicated to my business (learnthepc.net).

Even my drawers are organized by frequency of use, and specific to the drawer closest to me.

I hope you found some of these tips helpful. If you liked- please share, comment, and subscribe.

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An Interview of My Short Story (from the past)

myinterviewI’m not sure if I ever mentioned I was interviewed by a fellow writer, Roxanne Crouse. I high recommend you read her short stories on Amazon. She writes in the paranormal genre.

This interview happened after the writer’s group published our short stories, after the anthology we intended to publish went bust. I encouraged members to get out there and publish the short stories, and did so myself. The interview is about the Into the Shade short I published in 2012.

Her blog, SoMuchToWriteSoLittleTime, offers author interviews, book reviews, and her own take on her writing journey. Don’t forget to subscribe to her blog, and read her stuff. Its very good stuff.

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Marketing by Self Publishing Coach

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Marketing is key to those who self-publish, but also for those who go the traditional publishing method with the brick-and-mortar companies. You’re still expected to market yourself.

So here I present an Internet find; 200+ by Self Publishing Coach- a page with 200+ marketing and author tools. But you might need to get a snack or coffee first. The site and all the links and ideas will take time to peruse.

I now keep a file on marketing ideas so I can keep track of what works and what doesn’t. Naturally, consider a length of time to see results. For instance, when using the Amazon KDP Select, I saw 11 sales before I posted an announcement. Sadly, no reviews as of yet.

Here is the DOC file of the Marketing Task Worksheet I use;

Join Kindle Unlimited (free 30 day trial) and read the anthology book for free.

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Tedtalks on Writing

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I love TEDtalks. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, but more importantly, its ‘ideas worth sharing’.

The lectures are from professors, scientists, and even celebrities. Topics range from science, education, and, what I wanted to share today, writing!

The Writer’s Workshop series offers a page of various talks on the subject of writing. You can find one on the comma, another on plagiarism, and more.

Other writer related lectures I loved by TED talks are;

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius

Amy Tan: Where Does Creativity Hide?

John Green: The Paper Town Academy

And there’s so much more through TED talks. I highly recommend watching if anything to inspire, provoke, motivate, and get you thinking.

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Writer’s Block and Homeschool

008I don’t post enough on my blogs. Its not intentional; its all those distractions Life keeps throwing at me.

For the past month, I blame homeschool. We recently switched to an ‘umbrella’ school, since we grew to hate the Board of Education reviews. Where teaching and learning was once joyous and fun, the reviews forced me to stick with paperwork and textbooks. BORING!

I grew to hate teaching, and my son loathed having to start homeschool. The idea of his going to school bothered me greatly, since it was just more of the boring reading, note taking, and reciting stuff.

Learning should be filled with wonder, even a hunger to know more. People naturally learn all the time, from things that interest them, to the relationships they have, to even the entertainment they consume. But the way we were expected to conduct homeschool, too much like public school, and I was so bored. My son was bored.

In his younger years, teaching was a blast, and my son enjoyed the lessons. We explored all sorts of neat things, gobbling up the material in the form of documentaries, games, field trips, even music, stories, etc.  As he grew older, and the reviewer began to demand more text work (you know, but text books), it just sucked out all the fun and creativity for us.

What I found is that it also sucked out my own creativity. My mind and heart had to focus on my son’s education. I began to second guess everything I did, and writing creativity turned into sitting at a blank screen, unable to type anything but Hemmingway-like sentences, written by a third grader.

Where the heck did the creative muse go? Did she forsake me? Did the orthodoxy of school throttle into submission?

Since we passed our review (and my son is now entering high school grades in homeschool), the umbrella school reviewer is by far more open about creative learning. Imagine hearing angels sing as the clouds part, and this epic soundtrack start- yeah, it felt like that- I can be creative again. I was given the freedom to express myself through teaching but also through crafts and my writing.

Maybe I can’t compartmentalize like a true author should be able to, but I don’t care- I can be free of the shackles now, explore words and sentences, and let go of that self-questioning doubt.

And I should remember that this blog is about The Writer’s Journey, the process to share my words, and ups and down that goes with that.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. I also helped a fellow writer publish his memoir booklet, Walking With Faith. His story tells of his childhood loss of his mother at a young age, his growing up helping community, but later he tells about his battle with cancer, how it helped lead him to helping others with his non-profit, Openheartsopenpalms.org.

He’s a very sweet guy, full of enthusiasm and genuine concern for his fellow man (and woman). He’s working towards building community gardens to feed soup kitchens, and a van to help veterans get to their doctor appointments- just to name a few.

I designed the cover, par his instructions, and published to the Amazon Kindle Singles.

Now I’m on vacation….relaxing, thinking of my own stories to share.

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Booklet necklace

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Since making little booklets (without discernable covers) the other day, I decided to try to make a little necklace of a published book by a friend of mine.

Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames by Peni Jo Renner is a good read. She’s currently working on an audio version of the book, and offers both printed and eBook versions.

These little necklaces could make for a giveaway or prize, or just a not-so-subtle reminder that she did it; she published her book.

I already found the book cover on her Amazon page, then I had her scan the back of the book as well so the booklet necklace reflects her paper back book.

I’m considering making more, if authors are interested. Let me know.

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How I made my blog header

I created my own design for my blog, but I use a template. So I felt it might help my readers if they should want to personalize their own sites.

Your first step is to understand graphic sizes. With some web sites, you have ‘headers’, or banner graphics. There are two ways you can size up theses graphics

1. Right click the mouse over the graphic to get a pop up menu and select ‘save image as…’ . Sometimes, however, this downloads the entire HTML file which is the web page and all the graphics.

2. Go to Google search (or the search of your choice) and type in the blog or web site host. In my case, it was Weebly (for web site) and WordPress (for blogs). Then add ‘header graphic size dimensions’.

For example.

“Weebly header graphic size dimensions”

This searches the web for specifics to the dimension sizes. You often find results will include support or help pages from the host site.

Banner graphics tend to be about 720 px wide. Height varies, and you may find you will need to use the trail-and-error method to finding the correct size.

Once you understand graphic sizes, now you need to design your graphic.

I have Photoshop CS2, but you can also use Sumopaint, Gimp, or Canva will let you design your own graphics.

frootbat31AMake graphics- Consider the elements of branding your site such as texture, color, and of course the graphics you’ll use. If you take note, my banner uses snap shots of actual pages of writing I’ve done. The pencil and computer are separate graphics layered onto a single graphic. I then added the ‘post it’ note.

Where to find graphics? There are plenty of stock graphics, but you often pay money to use, due to copyright. You should look for original graphics by you or someone you know, with permission.

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Shutterstock.com

IMG_3542Take photos of your writing space, computer, keyboard, pens, pencils, etc. But if you note the photo here, its messy and chaotic. Not a good photo. I’d clean it up first, then add that, or take something more artistic to add.

Alternatively, you can also consider a stream-lined, text based graphic instead.

Once made, upload to your site, but also consider the following;

Matching a graphic for online profiles. On profiles, you can add graphics that use the same color, text/font, graphics as your site, which will further brand your site.

Add the same style to business cards. Again, sparking a ‘brand recognition’ for people.

Do you have tips or suggestions- post in comments. I’d love to hear from you. If you need help, you can also contact me. I can create graphics for a small fee.

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