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Hello, All!

I have two new business and blog sites. Please follow me there… wordwhisperer.net   (for do it yourselfers)

hireme.wordwhisperer.net (for people who prefer someone to do the heavy lifting for you and write or edit/enhance your copy)

“I home schooled my kids in their junior high and high school years. If SETTLE FOR BEST was around then, I would have included it as part of our curriculum. Since I had the privilege of pre-reading the book before it went to press, I wanted to pass this info to any of your friends who haven’t committed to getting it, yet. I’m ordering a copy for some of my family members. You said it all so well! Thanks!” — Cassandra Anthony-Lay

SETTLE FOR BEST: Satisfy the Winner You Were Born to Be debuted July 7, 2012 and reached #1 in the Motivational Self-Help category at Amazon.  I’ve just submitted it to a contest and have asked Amazon to release it on Kindle.  If you’re a writer or any other kind of entrepreneur who needs some encouragement and action steps that will carry you to success, get a copy today. Let me know how you like it after you’ve read it!  Thanks!

UPDATE 1/13/2014: Settle For Best and Serval Son are now available in Kindle editions. You don’t need a Kindle to read them, though: you can simply download a FREE Kindle Reader at Amazon and then have it sent there.

But please Note: From Feb 1-5 in the U.S. and Feb 2 to 4th in the UK Settle For Best will be available for a very short time for .99 the first day, $1.99 the second day, $2.99 the third day and so on until it reaches its normal Kindle price: $5.99. So please mark your calendars if you’d like to get it for less on Kindle.

FUTUREWORD PUBLISHING ANNOUNCES FIRST NONFICTION TITLE

“SERVAL SON: Spots and Stripes Forever” will debut September 1st

Seattle WA (PRWeb) FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE     Today the President of FutureWord Publishing, Cheryl Haynes, announced the pending
September 1st release of “SERVAL SON: Spots and Stripes Forever” a new book by author Kristine M. Smith, a lifelong animal advocate
with decades of combined experience as a wildlife rehabilitator, captive wild animal caretaker, veterinary assistant, and humane educator.

Haynes’ announcement reads in part, “As I was looking [the manuscript] over, I thought how much the book is needed in zoos, wildlife parks, school and county libraries. The book is not just educational; it is packed with familiar flashbacks to the emotional attachments we all have with our own pets.”

Author Smith has raised and nurtured nearly every kind of small animal native to the Pacific Northwest and most species of domestic and farm animals. But it was raising Deaken—an African serval cat—from the age of five days old until his death at 17 which she considers the epitome
of her animal-enriched life.

Smith says, “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world—and I would never do it again. It was, at once, the most heartwarming and the most traumatic 17 years of my existence. Raising a wild one isn’t an undertaking for half-hearted impulse buyers. Raising a happy, healthy wild animal—keeping it safe from people and people safe from it—requires complete attention, nerves of steel, and an insane amount of good luck. We are responsible for all we tame. Most who attempt fail miserably and end up abandoning the animals they pledged to love and care for. Animal sanctuaries are overburdened with the sad results: abandoned cast-offs, looking for owners they’ll never see again.'”

The book—Smith’s sixth to date—does not advocate the keeping of wild pets, especially wild cats, wild dogs and simians. To the contrary, for the many reasons the author explains and has endured, Smith is opposed to wild animal ownership for most people. She forewarns, “The
commitment is brutal, the risks enormous, the memories indelible—good and bad.”

The book has been endorsed by several high-profile animal advocates including Tippi Hedren (Shambala Preserve/ROAR Foundation) and Vernon Weir (American Sanctuary Association) and will be available at Amazon.com on September 1st. Not long after, it will be available at all online bookstores and on Kindle™. It measures 6 x 9 and will be perfect bound.

#

Kristine M Smith is an animal advocate and a professional freelance copywriter. Reach her at kristinemsmith@msn.com or wordwhisperer.net.

 

“Define a Good Writer”

I’ve been trying to define the essence of a good writer for a while. Today it came to me:

A good writer is someone who is completely unapologetic about the blast they’re having!!!

Bottom line: If writing is painful to you, maybe you shouldn’t bother trying to become a writer… or even a better writer.  I quit trying to be better at math decades ago because it made me miserable and I have survived. If writing is a pain, you can stop doing it and survive, too.  I promise. You really can! 

When I teach writing,  students often look to me like they’re just moments away from undergoing root canal. They do not look happy.

So I’ve been telling students for quite a while now: “Put the critic away completely and let your child out in the sandbox to play.  Your child has no qualms about doing anything wrong — she’s so in the moment, focused happily on what she’s ‘communicating’  while playing that the last thing on her minds is ‘Am I doing this right? Could I be doing this better?'”

Today I got a newsletter from my insurance agent, Kim McKendry. On the front page was her report of learning the art and science of scuba diving.  I was with her every step of the way.

From the first word to the last, you could tell Kim was having a blast telling “me” (actually “us,” all of her clients, but it felt like she was talking to me alone from across a kitchen table) about her lessons and about her first fascinating-but-frigid dive into Puget Sound. I was enthralled — and scuba is not one of those things I’d normally get all that enthralled about! (Sharks and I are natural enemies. I think I must have been a sea otter in an earlier life.) 

Kim’s joy was in every sentence and, because it was, she’s a great writer.  Oh, sure, she knows the rules of the road, too, so none of her sentences or segues were knobby or uncomfortable. But that stuff can be learned, and finessed, later– when we allow our Critics back into the room to smooth things out. You can read Kim’s story yourself by going to www.mckendryinsurance.com and clicking on Go Green to get the newsletter electronically.

I see people stopping themselves ALL THE TIME when they’re writing. I used to do it myself. STOP THAT!  The best thing you can do while writing is to forget the rules (or stop bothering yourself about whether you know them all) and just GO FOR IT!

Go for whatever is driving the story you want to tell. If it’s a love story, let the love out.  If it’s a story about anxiety, let the anxiety out in a way that others can feel.  If it’s about your product or service, turn yourself loose to explain what it will do for the people who avail themselves of the opportunity.  Don’t make it about “selling…” Make it about “telling” in a way that brings out your own excitement and passion for the topic.

This is one reason I only bid on projects at Elance that fire my passion in several directions all at once.  Although I can’t get wildly excited about brake linings or motorcycle helmets, I can get very excited about how vital they are:they save lives when they’re working properly!  That’s something I can wrap my passion around…

Another of my mantras is “show, don’t tell.”  This doesn’t work in every instance, but when it does, it brings the reader in to experience the circumstance or the event.  Read “The Help” if you haven’t already since I recommended it recently.  You’re THERE because the writer is invested in putting you there.

If you love to write, go for it. If you don’t, it probably isn’t your calling and you WILL survive.  I wouldn’t survive without being able to write, I don’t think. It keeps me sane and allows me to be insane.  It’s a blessing.

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Visit http://almostfamousbydesfault.blogspot.com for my “anything goes” blog or http://kristinemsmith.biz for my business and book website.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE PROS AND CONS OF SELF-PUBLISHING

PROS

• You get  much larger royalty payment percentages

• Self-publishing costs are (relatively) inexpensive, sometimes free

• Self-publishing doesn’t require warehouse space for printed books because they’re Print On Demand (POD); each book is printed (usually by Lightning Source, which prints the vast majority of all mass-market books in the US) and mailed to the customer as orders arrive

• Self-publishing lets you sell your book online at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, etc. like traditional publishers

• Self-publishing companies offer formatting, book design and other services at a (relatively) low cost

• Self-publishing gives you immediate opportunities because you have a book in hand to show off, tell about, and offer to interested parties 

• You get to keep all rights so you can decide who gets “first dibs” on subsequent publication rights (reprint rights, excerpt rights, etc.) and — should Hollywood come calling — you can negotiate to get into the thick of things (if you want) and help choose screenplay writer, producer, director, actor, etc.

• Self-publisher companies will never reject your work.

RED ALERT! The PRO just mentioned can become a CON very quickly: If you’re so in love with your own words that you can’t spot any flaws until they’re all in print… ARGHHHH!!!! It’s hell on earth to have to live with knowing that your self-published labor of love would have been significantly better had you hired a second, more objective, pair of eyes to look it over and catch things you overlooked or did not see at all at because of your intimacy with the material or your level of readiness/ability to judiciously edit your own writing. Even the big guns hire editors, proofreaders and other folks to double- and triple-check their manuscripts. You should, too, before you go to the trouble and expense of self-publishing.

You can also publish your manuscript as an e-book (be sure you make it into a PDF file before you sell it online, to protect yourself as much as you can from piracy) or on your desktop for almost nothing. You can sell them via Clickbank, Payloadz.com and other venues for a very small service fee, or you can create a website for the book and handle it yourself, using Paypal.

CONS

• All formatting, editing, proofreading, design, etc. is your sole responsibility unless you farm it out for someone else or a trusted ally to do. (Expect to pay upwards of $40/hour to have a competent friend or ally do any of the above; $75/hour or more to have a professional editor and proofreader do the honors).

• ALL promotion must be done by you. (Even with a traditional publisher, this is true unless you’re big-name author like Stephen King, Dan Brown, JK Rowling, etc. and can get a motion picture company involved in touting the movie version of your book.)

• You have to buy an ISBN number in order to sell your book in bookstores; they can be costly

• You must register as your own publisher to receive an ISBN # (this takes time)

• Even though your book will be listed at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers, don’t  assume you’re going to sell a million copies and be able to retire; as time-consuming as writing the book was, your work has only begun upon actual publication — because now you have to put on your self-promotion hat and let your intended market know what’s in it for them.

 • ALL promotion – arranging for book signings, contacting news outlets with media (press) releases, requesting book reviews, etc. — is your responsibility as the author.

• You’ll be paying to buy your own books (at author cost) so you can sell them during personal appearances. Most self-publishing houses don’t offer many “complimentary” books when you publish with them. Some offer one or two; some offer ten… but they will all need to go out as review copies to influential reviewers, to family and friends, to your archive file… So expect to have to buy your own books in order to have them around when you want to sell them.

• Most bookstores will not host self-published authors, so book signings will have to be held elsewhere, cutting down mightily on any “walk by” traffic you would otherwise receive. But there are plenty of arts and crafts festivals held at parks and other public places, plus libraries, book conferences, and other venues where you can read excerpts and sell and sign books.

For more information about self-publishing, visit lulu.com, booksurge.com, iuniverse.com, authors-promotion.com/publishers.php , and publishing.booklocker.com.

Compare these book publishing companies’ offers to determine the best deal for your particular situation.

WordPress confuses me. Half the time I can’t seem to logon. Blogger is easier by far (http://almostfamousbydesfault.blogspot.com) and I get perturbed almost every time I come here to add something. Wish WP were more user-friendly, but it is what it is… Grrrr…  It may just be me, though.

WP has more features, functions and options, for sure, but it’s no place for sissies, and I’m a bit of a sissy when it comes to blogging.

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Let’s forge onward now because who knows when I’ll figure out how to do this again anytime soon!

I’m writing for a couple of businesses right now whose owners seem to be angry people. They want to shout everything at people — “Don’t you get how important this is?!”  Their current business materials reveal their frustration.  One of them is even in ALL CAPS. This is a no-no. Nothing chases readers away more readily than ALL CAPS. Don’t do it!

ALL CAPS is a big mistake. No matter how benevolent or vital your product or service is, customers do not want to have it SHOUTED AT THEM!

I’ve had to actually bring this “anger management” issue to the attention of one of the clients; he took it  personally (DUH!); the other client “got it” as soon as I showed him how effective NOT being a bear can be. 

If you remember nothing else I share with you, remember this: The world is an abrasive-enough place just as it is. If you think adding to the static and the aggression in the world is going to sell your product or service, you’re dead wrong — unless you’re a trainer for terrorists. I presume you’re not. (If so, please go away. I do not like you. Even a little bit.)

Buyers want to buy reasonable products from reasonable-sounding people. Insurance is reasonable, as are security, on-line e-learning courses, and audio-video products. Yes, all are important, but none of them will ever get sold by guys or gals wielding sledgehammers.  Customers want to interact with friendly, helpful, engaging, peaceable folks; they sometimes have to deal with a Tyrannosaurus Rex, but not because they want to; it’s in their job descriptions. They don’t buy from them; they just tolerate them, then get as far away from them as possible, as soon as possible.

So, be kind. Just because you eat, breathe and live your product or service and know, to the core of your being, that it’s important for people to realize its width, depth and breadth, the best thing you can do is slow down, take a breath and realize that your prospective client needs information, not defamation, to make the wise decision and make you their “go to” service provider.

Your copy should hand them a virtual cup of coffee, allow them to settle in, and realize you’re there to help them, not to shove something down their throats. The intro can be brief, the benefits can come fast, but it all needs to resonate with your readers or they’ll turn away.

Make sense?

Normally, I won’t continue to work with angry businessmen, but I’m taming one of them and finding the very good heart, spirit and soul that animates him. I may not remain long with the other one; that remains to be seen. He’ll either “get it” or he won’t pretty soon.  Some people are chronically angry; not something I can “cure.”  This other fellow (with the good heart) was simply frustrated; nothing he was doing seemed to be working and he was giving it his all.  He feels much more relaxed and energized now — he sees the light at the end of the tunnel.  He’s de-escalated his frustration, recouped the energy it took, and is focusing it on getting more done on an upbeat side.

So if you’re trying to write your own stuff and your lower emotions — anger, rage, frustration, anxiety, etc. — are dragging you down, find a service provider who can do the work for you. Give them the facts, figures and stats and let them carry the ball. When you see the difference it makes, you’ll smile and start getting more in tune with why you started a business to begin with: to enjoy your day helping people help themselves.

  

The whole purpose of creative (and most other) writing is to convey a message, to entertain, and to be understood.

Read your sentences again after writing them to be sure they really say what you think they do. You might be surprised!

You’ve read all those hysterical church bulletins that circulate on the ‘Net, haven’t you? Here are just three of them:

Don’t let worry kill you – let the church help.

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community. Smile at someone who is hard to love.  Say “hell” to someone who doesn’t care much about you.

Thursday at 5:00 pm there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club. All ladies wishing to be “Little Mothers” will meet with the Pastor in his study.

Yeah, thought so…
Don’t over-use adjectives to embellish or color things.

The blurb on the back of your book is usually the most important thing of interest to people. It’s the “sales copy.”  Most won’t buy your book if the back isn’t riveting.

Your writing should usually be grammatically correct. Sometimes the exception to the rule works — but usually it doesn’t!

A  paragraph usually contains one thought/subject.

A paragraph usually includes three or more sentences.

Powerful paragraphs can have fewer sentences.

A short paragraph of less than three sentences is often used as a first paragraph in a piece. The first paragraph is your “hook,” your clincher. If  it doesn’t grab hold of your readers, they’ll slip away unless the piece is required reading — and then it can be a real drag. So take good care of your readers. Don’t write anything you wouldn’t love to read yourself. It’s in your telling of a tale where the magic appears… or disappears!

It takes special skill to use less than three sentences in a paragraph effectively.

Put the theme or topic sentence somewhere other than in the lead sentence in a paragraph to make it more interesting.

Your article, essay, etc. can have three or more paragraphs on the same topic.

Make it enjoyable to read. Make sure the tense, the person or persons (singular or plural) remain the same throughout the entire paragraph. (Don’t start out talking about ‘we’ and then end up talking about ‘I’.)

There are no rules on how many paragraphs to a story.

 Semi-colons

This is the #1 culprit of abuse in writing, so I’m repeating the rules here. 

Use a semi-colon where a period would work. A semi-colon links two complete sentences that express, in sequence, a connecting thought pattern.  The two halves of the sentences could stand alone but, for effect, they are often joined with a semi-colon.

Use a comma if there is a closer connection, but when you do, add a conjunction.

Also use a semi-colon before  transition words: however, therefore, but, etc.

Semi-colons help guide your readers’ thoughts. A semi-colon connects two sentences.

Example: “A warm rain began to fall; the children took off their shoes.”  (Same meaning as, “Because a warm rain began to fall, the children took off their shoes” or “The children took off their shoes because a warm rain began to fall.”)

 Variety of thoughts

How long should a sentence be?

Break up run-on sentences. Variety is the spice of life.

Sometimes breaking the rules adds “punch” but you really have to know what you’re doing to make that happen.

Parts of Speech

Noun            name of person, place, thing, idea. It is the who or what of a sentence. (shoe, tree, dog, Sally, etc.)

Verb             action or being word (all forms of to be)

                        The noun and verb are the backbone of every sentence.

Pronoun       takes the place of a noun (Pastor/he, Pastor/his, Mother/her, Sister/she, your, they, etc.)    Some work as the subject, some work as the predicate.

Adjective    describes noun or pronoun. Use sparingly, don’t overuse it.

Adverb         modifies the verb — how or how many?

Preposition  a position word (in, around, over, beside, under, etc.). It “never” appears alone (except in copywriting) and is always part of a phrase thats ends with a noun or pronoun.

Conjunction   connecting words (and, but, etc.)

Interjection   worthless word inserted into a sentence. Interjections are almost always followed by an exclamation mark (Oh, no! Yes! Gee! Goodness!). They aren’t used much.

Article           a, an, the

Expletive: “&*%$!!!”  Profane, vulgar language. Not used much (please!) except in R-rated and X-rated action-adventure movies!

Commas    The rule — use as few as you can get away with!   The use of commas depends on what you want to convey.

 Agreement of person   One horse, it runs. Two horses, they run.

If subject is in present tense, be sure verb is, too.

Now, check over your present piece and see if it all complies with the above.