Saturday, 28 February 2015

My editing tips (as a non-editor) - Part 3

This week my tips are three unusual things you can to do to help you edit your own writing:
  1. Everyone will tell you to hide your first draft in a drawer for at least 4 weeks before tackling the editing. Yep, you should that. It gives your brain a chance to forget what you have written, so you can start the editing with fresh eyes.
  2. Start from the back. Now this tip made me giggle when I heard about it the first time. If you think about it, it does make sense. Start editing at the last paragraph will keep your mind focused on the words written, not the story line. This is a helpful hint for copy editing – finding grammar, spelling and language errors.
  3. Rewrite your story in pictures. Stick figures or little blocks will do the job, if you cannot draw people. This tip helps your editing effort to spot gaps in your plot and timeline. Add cryptic notes, on the actions/activities your characters are involved in.

    Draw a line underneath the block/figures and make notes on the timeline through the story. If you are using flashbacks in time (although not recommended) make sure that your reader knows where the shift is and who the POV character is for the flashback. The same applies for flash-forward scenes.
Lastly, draw an emotional/action line above your storyline.  Indicate the intensity/highs and lows of the storyline. Are the lows too long? Is the action interspersed with less intense activities? Is the emotional roller coaster of your protagonist balanced with highs, lows and normal activity?
Do it by scene or chapter – it will depend on the type of story you are writing. See the example below for a high action scene.
editing tips. editing for writers
Do you have any unusual tips for editing that works for you? Why not share it in the comments, it might just be the tip someone is looking for.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Breaking News: Launch of the Kasparov MiniChess App
Marisa van der Merwe: CEO and Founder of MiniChess
This event has been in the making for eighteen months. And it is not just another chess playing app. Nope, this is the one app that will eventually help you to play chess, but it is first and foremost an educational tool.
Developed by an overseas company, it has taken many months to take a hands-on books system, to a visually appealing and fun mobile device app.
Aimed at the age group 5 to 9 years, it helps to develop skills in children with a programme that now includes the antics of Cheddar, the MiniChess mouse.
Marisa van der Merwe, Graham Jurgesten
Marisa with Graham Jurgesten and one of the children taking part in the programme
Skills such as spatial thinking, forethought, strategic thinking and creativity are just a few of the things that are developed in children when taking part in this programme.
The programme is now available in several countries and is underwritten by the Kasparov Chess Foundation. Mr. Jurgesten representing the African branch of KCF, added his words of praise and enthusiasm on behalf of the chess master himself.
Kasparov MiniChess App Launch
People attending the launch ready to raise their glasses in celebration
The App was launched at the head office of MiniChess in Pretoria, South Africa tonight and the event was by invitation only.

You can find the Kasparov MiniChess App on iTunes and Android online stores.

Morning Pages and Brain Dumps, a writer's musings

morning pages, journaling, writing
The creator of morning pages, Julia Cameron, states that you do this first thing in the morning. Dump everything in your head in a handwritten or electronic journal. Anything that comes to mind. The things that bother you, makes you cry, makes you laugh, makes you angry. The cat that didn’t want to eat dinner, the kids who are perpetually late for school. Anything and everything to clear your mind.
Lacking ideas? Feeling blocked? Do morning pages, and do it every day. Your life is full of issues, and morning pages will point you towards an idea for a story. Not sure if the idea is a good one? It doesn’t matter. You are writing. You are producing words on paper, the rest will follow.
If you are like me, there is no time to do my morning pages first thing. So I take a few minutes out of my day when I have a chance. While it might not be early morning pages, trust me, doing a brain dump does help to clear the mind. On Saturdays I usually visit my favourite coffee shop, park myself in a corner and do my morning pages. Also an excellent opportunity to observe people, and make a few notes or speculate on what ifs for story ideas.
Whatever time works for you, random thoughts, random words and ideas will flow if you don’t force it. Keep your notebook close to note a potential story idea to develop later. Morning pages are only to get the junk out of your head, not to develop or plan a story.
I can definitely recommend this exercise to keep my writing muscles fit!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Book Feature: Antique Forgery by Eileen Harris

This second book in the series takes the reader further into the life of Alicia Trent and her friends. Magic, forgery, betrayal, and fabulous jewels surround Alicia as she struggles to find the reason for her friend's death.

Buy Links:

Wings e Press I Amazon I Barnes & Noble

We were nearly halfway up the stairs when I heard Lawrence groan. I turned to see what had happened. He was deathly white, and while I watched, he sank down on the closest step. He was sweating heavily and clutching his stomach. He didn't seem coherent enough to answer any questions, so I ducked into my room and called for an ambulance. They only took about ten minutes to arrive, but it was horrible to wait. Lawrence was obviously in great pain, but couldn't tell me what was wrong.
The ride to the hospital took an eternity. They wouldn't let me ride in the ambulance, and I was so afraid of what would happen before he arrived. I was shaking and behind the wheel of a car was the last place I should have been, but as the ambulance tore through the streets with the siren blaring, I was right behind them.
I ran from the parking lot into the emergency room just in time to see them take Lawrence through a set of swinging doors where I couldn't follow. I slumped into a chair, and for the next two hours I sat in a waiting room with dull green walls and hard metal chairs. I never moved while I waited. My mind was busy begging Lawrence to hold on.
Since I was the only one waiting, when I saw an exhausted-looking man dressed in scrubs walk into the room, I took a deep breath and hurried to his side.
He said, “Are you the relative who brought Lawrence Hall in tonight?”
Afraid they wouldn't tell me anything if I confessed to not being a relative, I just nodded.
“Mr. Hall is a very sick man. He's been poisoned, and we think he must have eaten poisonous mushrooms. Our tests indicate they were probably green-spored lepiota.”
At this point I wanted to scream at him to just tell me his condition. He could explain the details after I knew how Lawrence was.
However, he wasn't finished explaining. “This particular mushroom doesn't normally cause death, but among its other symptoms it can dangerously lower blood pressure. Mr. Hall must be on some type of medication that has the same effect, or at least exacerbated the effect of the mushroom, because we nearly lost him. It's a good thing you got him here when you did. We have him stabilized now, and he should make a full recovery.”
I barely heard anything the man said except the last statement. Lawrence was going to be all right! My knees weakened with relief and I sank into the nearest chair.
He continued, “He's awake, and we need to monitor him closely for a while. We want to keep him tonight and tomorrow for observation, but he can probably go home after that. If you want to see him, you can visit for a short time, but first, can you tell me what type of medication he's taking? He was still pretty confused when I talked to him and wasn't able to tell me.”
“I don't know the exact medication. Lawrence is bi-polar, so it has to be something for that. I'll see if I can find out the name for you.”
I got the room number and was practically running in my need to see for myself that he was alive and recovering. I burst into the room, nearly knocking over a nurse on her way out. She cautioned me the patient needed rest and, with a frown in my direction, left the room. I pulled a chair up next to the bed and took Lawrence's hand. “You look so much better already. You have some color back.”
He said, “You look terrible. You can relax. I'm going to be fine. I was a little worried in the beginning because the confusion felt the way some of my episodes used to begin. The confusion is gone now, and I really am fine. It's left me very tired, but they don't want me to sleep yet. Tell me exactly what happened. I'm sure the gory details will help keep me awake. The last thing I remember is starting up the stairs, and then brief moments in the ambulance.”
I wanted to answer in the same matter-of-fact way he'd asked the question. I tried, but before I could begin, tears were running down my face and I couldn't find my voice. I didn't sob or howl. Strangely, I didn't make any noise at all. I just stared at Lawrence, horrified because he might have died trying to help me. All the while the silent tears kept coming.
He said, “Ali, we can't have this. I've seen you go through some horrible times, but I've never seen you cry. There's no need for you to be so upset. I promise you I will be out of here tomorrow, and all will be well. Even the doctor says so.”
I gulped a few times trying to find my voice. It didn't sound good, but I managed to say, “I couldn't bear it if anything happened to you. When you get out of here, you're going right back to Scottsdale! I should never have involved you in any of this.”
“Whoa there, girl! In the first place, I'm a grown man and you can't involve me in anything I don't choose to be involved in. In the second place, you and your crazy mixed-up life are the main thing keeping me from getting old and bored. Bad things happen sometimes, but none of this is your fault. Now dry those tears and tell me how I got here.”
I hiccuped a few times but got myself under control. “Okay, I'm not trying to take the blame for what happened, but I was so scared. It seems you were poisoned. I wasn't in much shape to listen to the doctor, but it was some kind of mushroom. There were mushrooms in the food we ate at supper, but we both ate those. Someone targeted you specifically. At the moment, I have no idea why they did it, but I don't think whoever did this was trying to kill you. The doctor said the symptoms were severe but not normally fatal. The problem seemed to be a reaction between the poison and your medication. Whoever did this couldn't have known that you take anything, or at least not that your medicine would react with the mushrooms. The doctor asked me to find out the name of your prescription.”
“I vaguely remember him asking me, but I was pretty confused then and couldn't remember. It's Geodon. They tried dozens before, but nothing worked until this came along. I'm one of the lucky ones, because it not only keeps the problem in check, but I don't suffer from any severe side effects. This reaction with poison mushrooms is something I certainly never expected. I should have told you ages ago in case of a relapse or some bizarre circumstances like these.”
“I'll let the doctor know the name of the medicine. I don't know if your medication lowers your blood pressure, but it dropped dangerously low. That's what had the doctors worried.”
“I don't know either, but the doctors will figure it out. I understand I have to be in here until tomorrow evening, even though I tried to talk them into letting me go sooner. You need to promise me you won't do anything the least bit dangerous until I get back. One day isn't going to make any difference. Whoever did this may have planned it to separate us for some reason. So promise me you'll be careful and not spend time alone.”
The frowning nurse came back and warned me I needed to leave. Visiting hours were over and the patient needed rest.
I said, “Don't worry about me. I promise I will take every precaution until you're out of here. I'll be back tomorrow afternoon and will drive you to the house when they release you. Just get well!”
Outside the room, Detective Wilton was waiting for me.

About the Author:

From living off the grid in the Arizona desert, Eileen has moved to the woods of upstate New York. She has authored a standalone adventure novel called Desert Shadow. She is also the author of Alicia Trent Series. The Black Cane : Dowager Diaries Book 1 is her latest release.

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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Tai chi confession: I skipped a class...

I have been so happy with my progress on my tai chi lessons, it is hard to believe that I still am doing this, and all on my own.
I watched the video clip on lesson seven yesterday and was quite happy with myself after practicing it a few times with and without the teacher. Then a few hours later I wondered about one of the movements in the form, and I go...not again.
To make up for this mental mishap, I copied lessons seven to ten to my iPad - with a bit of a struggle, since I am not fluent in iTunes. Nonetheless, I managed to get the clips to the tablet and had a quick peek at the lesson to refresh my memory.
Early this morning, I was playing around with the iPad and activated lesson eight by accident. Or maybe not. It was an extension of lesson seven with an intermediate transition step the only addition in the form I am studying.
What fun. Where I would normally allocate two weeks for each new movement to learn and practice and perform it, now I am doing two lessons. Maybe two weeks will be enough, maybe not.

So the student has skipped a class, lets hope she doesn't fall on her nose in the overeagerness test.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Blog Hop: Spread Some Indie Love

Géra's Gift Link                             Keeper of the Dragon Sword Link

♥  Happy Valentine's Day!  
The codes are valid until 21 Feb 2015

Saturday, 7 February 2015

My editing tips (as a non-editor) - Part 2

I don’t have any formal typing training, so whatever speed I achieve depends greatly on my mood and the phase of the moon, i.e. there isn’t any to speak of.
Accuracy sucks and I hate those wiggly red lines my word processor uses to show me that a word has been misspelled.

With the spellchecker deactivated while I am writing, the chances of errors are huge to say nothing of all the other mistakes I make. So here are my 3 tips for editing this week:
  1. Run a spellchecker - especially if you are an editorial/typing idiot like me. I write in UK/SA English and thus consistent use of the “s" versus the “z" in many words are paramount. Check that your spellchecker use the same version of English throughout the document.
  2. Be careful when you use regional slang words that might be confusing or not directly clear from the context of the scene. In South Africa we use words such as “eish” and “ama-zing” that may not be the familiar or in the same context as it is meant to be used. I try to avoid those in my writing. If you use such words, make sure the context is such that the reader can deduce the meaning, or intention behind it.
  3. Incorrect words for the context may not be detected by a spellchecker. Words such as “life” for “live” or “from” instead of “form”. Even recently I spotted mistakes like these in a book, clearly overlooked by the author and the editor. It does not need to happen. I keep a list of these words that I perpetually mistype. Want a few examples? fro, form, fir, than, sate, desert, etc.
    When I finish the first draft of my book, I run a search for all the words in my list. Of course sometimes the context is correct. Then there is the 99% of the time where it is wrong. I can fix those without making my editor roll her eyes at me.
You can do all of these too. It saves time so your editor will spend his/her time on the important parts, and not fixing these mistakes that you can easily correct yourself.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Book Feature: 32 Seconds by Johanna K. Pitcairn

To the average onlooker, the city of Los Angeles represents glitz, glamour, and the celebrity lifestyle. But to seventeen-year-old Julie Jones, the city is a vast host of problems she’s longing to get away from. The latest? An unfortunate disagreement with her ex-boyfriend Mark—one that could land her in some serious hot water.

So rather than face the troubles that torment her, Julie decides to run away from her old life and start fresh somewhere new. But her parents aren’t on board with the plan, and she soon finds her bank accounts frozen and her wallet empty.

With just seventy-five dollars and a full tank of gas, the troubled teen is far too stubborn to turn around and head home. So what’s a girl to do?

What Julie doesn’t know is that her travels are about to take her somewhere unexpected—a place where she’ll be forced to come face to face with the ghosts of her past in order to secure her future.

A tale of redemption, hope, and freedom lost and found, 32 Seconds is a thought-provoking exploration into the human spirit and the nature of forgiveness.

Available on Amazon

About the Author
Johanna K. Pitcairn has dreamed of becoming a writer since childhood--authoring her first novel at the age of nine, and countless poems, stories, and screenplays by the age of seventeen. Later, rather than pursuing a career as a director and screenwriter, she decided to go to law school, driven by her father's opinion that "writing does not pay the bills."

Ten years later, she moved to New York City, which inspired her to go back to the excitement, wonder, and constant change of being a writer. Pitcairn is a huge fan of psychological-thriller novels and movies, and delves into her hopes, fears, friends, enemies, and everything in between in her own writing.

Contact the Author:

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Guest Post: Creativity by Johanna K. Pitcairn

Linzé: It is my pleasure to welcome Johanna to my blog today. She is the first guest blogger for the year. Welcome, Johanna! 
Johanna: First and foremost, thanks for the opportunity to be featured on your blog. Every indie author needs all the support they can get, and I’m very grateful for all the support I’ve received and am receiving. 
 I love these two quotes about creativity: 
“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been.” Robert Bresson
“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” Edwin Land. 
So being creative means you gotta jump in the ravine, not knowing whether your chute is gonna work. But maybe you’ll find an invisible bungee cord on the way, or a bouncy mushroom. Safely, you will land in a foreign territory populated by tiny elves whose specialty is to bake really huge pumpkin pies. You don’t like pumpkin pie, but the elf leader insists you must have a bite, or you’ll choke on your own air within fifteen seconds. You eat a piece, and immediately, the world becomes this fairytale scenery, with a huge castle and tons of servants, and you wearing a very expensive outfit, and sitting on a throne made of candy canes. And you hear this little voice that keeps asking: “Dad, what’s for breakfast?”
Take an idea and fly with it. Make it not ten, but a million times bigger. And if you crash, at least you’ll know the idea didn’t work. Self-doubt is the biggest enemy of creativity. A creative mind takes risks, and has fun in the process. You look at things in a different way, and break established patterns. 
I’ll finish with this beautiful quote from Steve Jobs: “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” 

So be creative, and pass it on. I heard creativity was contagious.

Linzé: Look out for Johanna's book feature tomorrow. True creativity in action!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Tai chi - an unplanned surprise

A few days after I fell and tore ligaments in my left foot and ankle, I decided to try doing my tai chi practice. I can just see the surprise on your face. Yeah, I thought I was crazy for trying too.
It has become part of my routine, so I missed my twice daily tai chi sessions. So with careful consideration, my ankle brace properly strapped on, I went for it.
Tai chi is not a routine to be rushed, which I appreciated more than ever at this attempt. Opening stance, opening movement. Check.
Second, third, fourth movements. Check. Okay, it wasn’t that easy, but if I kept my head, there was little to no pain. I made a slight adjustment to my stance, keeping a more upright posture and using a shorter step out (the bow step) to limit bending of my foot even in the forward position.
It doesn’t feel natural, so when my injury is healed, reverting back to the more extended movement, will not be a problem.
Since I feel comfortable with the routine so far, ankle injury notwithstanding, I decided to keep to my schedule and proceed towards studying the sixth movement in the course.
The typical healing period for this type of injury is about 6 to 8 weeks. Unless the subsequent tai chi movements will strain my injury, I will keep to my planning. If there is stress on my ankle, I will keep practicing the routing as I have learnt it up to that point, and delay adding the next movement until my body is ready.
In the meantime I wish you health, harmony and happiness!

The CreativeLife in review - planning, time management, and the creative life

  Hey there, creative friend! It's been a week or more since my last post but mostly because I have been taking time to do other things....