Book Review: The Institute

by Adam Huddleston

 

This month’s blog topics involve book reviews.  Instead of giving a comprehensive review on a title that I have finished, I am choosing to give a week-by-week review on a work that I am currently reading.  I have chosen “The Institute” by Stephen King.  

As of now, I have completed the first part “The Night Knocker” and am a few sections into the second part “The Smart Kid”.  Mr. King begins his tale as he does many of his others, which is to say somewhat slowly but with great character development.  He fleshes out the major protagonist in the first part as the character begins a road trip (another King staple).  Even though a bit of time passes, the story moves along at a pace that keeps the Constant Reader interested.  

The main character in “The Smart Kid” is beginning to be developed as well.  The boy prodigy is both interesting and endearing.  As of this writing, he has just arrived at the titular “Institute” and I am looking forward to seeing what adventure awaits.

Happy writing (and reading)!

365 GOALS


365 GOALS

Natalie Bright

 

As you start a new year of writing, consider what you want to accomplish. Make your goals achievable.

2019 IN REVIEW

In 2019, I changed my approach to goals for the year. I decided to hyper-focus on a few projects and get them finished. My brain is constantly bugging me with new ideas, and the problem is I listen. During the past year, I met about one-third of what I had hoped to achieve, but I can mark off a few projects as completed, which feels very good. In looking over the dry eraser board, here are the results.

  1. Rescue Animal Activity Book for ages 8-10. Artwork, layout, and published. I hired out coloring pages and formatting and had help with the layout. Got a bump in sales from an Amazon Ad.
  2. Nonfiction book deadline met. KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’ for TwoDot Books. Publication date of Fall 2020.
  3. Women’s fiction, western for the Christian market: Done. Writing with a co-author was a challenge, but I am so happy with this story and the characters. Maybe it’s the start of a new series? We’ll be shopping it around to find the best possible option for getting this book into the hands of readers.
  4. Goal: 6 newsletters. Actual: 4
  5. Goal: 52 NEW Prairie Purview blogs. Actual: 20. Priority for 2020 is to generate new material every Friday.
  6. Goal: 52 WordsmithSix Blogs. Actual: 45. I missed a few weeks.
  7. Goal: 2 short stories for Route 66 Anthologies. Actual: 1 story complete.

MAKE IT VISUAL. MAKE IT REAL.

Put it on the wall where you must look at it. What are you working on now? What is waiting on you to finish? What new ideas have you added to the Board? I use a dry eraser board, color-coded between genres or series. I don’t erase anything, but I add to during the year and check off projects that are done.

Whether Indi or Traditionally published, to be a writer means to be a self-motivator.  When it comes down to it, this business is all about STORY. Writing the best story that you possibly can. Butt in chair and words on the page.  The next phase involves finding readers. Selling your book relies on the reader-author relationship.

THE VISION

The big picture: 1. A good story. 2. Readers who can easily buy your work.

BREAK IT DOWN

Achieving the end results is why we set goals. To break down the overall vision into something workable. To channel our focus. Seems crazy when we consider the big picture: “I’m going to write a 100,000 word novel that’s going to have awesome characters and I’ll create a world where they’ll do great things and have a great adventure, and then I’m going to sell my book all over the world.” Yeah, right.

But when we break it down into achievable pieces, the overwhelming can suddenly become doable. For example:

  1. Write one blog every Friday.
  2. Write and polish one chapter of the WIP every week. (A 2,000-word chapter every week for a year equals 104,000 new words. That’s almost 2 books, and you now have a series!)
  3. Read one chapter to critique the group every other week. (26 chapters with a new set of eyes, and polished by years end.)
  4. Read one how-to-write book on craft or marketing every month.
  5. Build my email list by promoting my newsletter on social media once a week.
  6. Send a newsletter promoting my work 3 times a year.
  7. Post on Instagram 1 time per day. (If you hate Instagram, send Tweets)
  8. Post on Facebook Author Page 1 time per day.
  9. Learn about Facebook ads. Promote 1 title. Start small and assess the numbers. How can I improve?
  10. Moms, this one’s for you: Find a place, set up my workspace and shut the door for a few minutes every day.

Do one thing every day over the next year, that’s 365 things you WILL do related to your writing, your dreams, your goals.  It’s all good. It feeds your soul and that is why we keep going.

WHICH WAY TO GO?

Still confused as to the difference between Indie Author and Traditional Publishing? You’re not alone. Many are. One of the best summaries I’ve found is in the book WRITE IT FORWARD by Bob Mayer. We were fortunate to hear him speak in Amarillo several years back and talk about a producer of words. His talk was very motivating. At the back of this book is an Appendix, “Getting Your Novel Published Traditionally”, which explains the process and even gives you definitions of the various people who are involved. This book is all about motivating yourself to write.

All the best in the NEW YEAR. May you be a producer of words and achiever of your vision. Thanks for following Wordsmith Six.

DECLARATION


DECLARATION

Lynnette Jalufka

Let’s face it. Writing is tough. It’s back-breaking work. You can easily get discouraged when there are no results on the horizon. 

In Brian Jacques’ Martin the Warrior, there’s a scene where the hero is in a desperate situation. Sentenced to death and tied outside in the pouring rain, he remembers all that he’s been through. Then he shouts to the storm a reason to survive, to keep living.

I was so struck by Martin’s words that I decided to make up my own reason to keep writing based on his speech. So here is my writer’s declaration:

I am an author!

I will write; I will not give in and die!

Do you hear me?

I will live to see my book published!

I have that posted above my computer. I look at it every time I sit at my desk. It has helped me get through times when I just wanted to give up. 

Create your own writer’s declaration. You can use mine, if you like. If you can’t think of one, find encouraging quotes and put them around your writing space. Look at them every day. Then write one word, then another, and another. Keep going. Don’t give up.

Happy New Year, everyone! Thanks for following Wordsmith Six. 

CLEAN SWEEP


CLEAN SWEEP

Lynnette Jalufka

Does your writing space make you cringe? Mine does. I have papers stacked on top of reference books. Short story sketches lay upon the notes of my novels. It’s a colossal mess. I wonder how I can create anything in the midst of all this chaos. 

So, my goal this year is to get it cleaned up and organized. That’s a daunting task, but if I work on it five to ten minutes a day, it will get done. Having the clutter gone means less time searching and more time writing. 

There are countless articles on organizing your writing space. Do what works for you. You don’t have to be the World’s Greatest Organizer as long as you can quickly find what you need.     

Setting Writing Goals


Setting Writing Goals

by Adam Huddleston

Writing goals.

For some, they are a necessity.  For others, an impossibility.  I have never been a huge fan of setting a writing goal for myself.  Honestly, the only time I can remember doing so was when I attempted to write a novel during NANOWRIMO.  In order to attain the appropriate word count, a writer (especially one with a family and full-time job) must get a certain number of pages finished daily.

I tried.  Really, I did.  But for that particular event, the word count was just too high.  However, I do see the benefit of keeping oneself focused and setting goals can definitely help.  

Of course, there are other goals besides word count.  You can use page count, scene or chapter completion, or even writing time.  If you need better focus on the process of writing, try each of these to find what works best for you.

Happy writing!

Feng Shui for a Writer’s Office


Feng Shui for a Writer’s Office

Natalie Bright

Setting writing goals in the New Year and realizing those goals depends on you being productive. That means butt in chair and words on the blank screen. Where you work is just as important as crafting a phenomenal sentence. Your writing space should be a sanctuary, a haven of inspiration.

Feng shui (fung SHWAY) is the Chinese art of placement to increase energy in the spaces you occupy. Literally, it means “wind and water”, or the intersection of the seen and unseen. The natural force of a body or space moves in predictable patterns. In Chinese philosophy, this is called qi (chee).  Furniture and objects can be moved, colors can be changed, and the creative energy of a room can be restored, imbalances corrected.

As I have blogged about before, my creative space changes with each project. When I wrote the inspirational book about a deep loss, I sat at the kitchen table. Chaos was all around; kids going in and out of the back door, television blaring, dinner cooking. The noise enabled me to write instead of becoming overwhelmed by the sorrow of the story. The book I just finished was written in our spare bedroom, although feng shui practitioners recommend not working in a bedroom. It was the only place I could shut out the world. From my little desk in the corner, I could watch the covey of quail that milled around outside the window every morning. I could hear the songs birds that gathered in the snowball bush. With my back to the door, I was able to ignore reality and step into the world of my creation.

Clutter is another major deterrent to productivity. When doing research, I use the floor and guest bed to spread out the information. True, it can be distracting but I like having the information at my fingertips. And I love my stacks of books. I did invest in a collapsible table. To anyone else, it looks like a mess, but I know which projects are in which stack. Whatever your methods, I hope you find the perfect space and have a productive and energizing New Year.

Feng Shui Design Tips for your Office 

  1. Is your back to the door? Do you have trouble concentrating? Move your desk to the center of the room and listen to your body. What bugs you? What do you like about the room? Give any change at least two weeks.
  2. What colors are dominate in your working space? Red stimulates fame and reputation. Blue represents wisdom. Green represents growth and new beginnings. Purple inspires spirituality and adventure.
  3. Does the furniture placement flow, or is it distracting? Can you move freely throughout the space? Your energy might be stifled by clutter.
  4. Bedrooms should be a place of calm, whereas offices are spaces of active energy. If you must work in a bedroom, divide the area by using a screen or curtain.
  5. Organize your desktop as you would the room. Personal symbols can be inspiring, like a favorite coffee mug or candle. Invest in bookcases or additional tables to declutter and organize your projects.
  6. Declutter to clear your mind. Clean out your email inbox and computer files. Toss those distracting sticky notes and start an idea notebook instead. Focus your energy and stop stressing over undone tasks.

PRIORITIES


PRIORITIES

Lynnette Jalufka

This past year, I spent a lot of time writing projects in order to get my name out in public. My novel suffered as a result. I’m changing that in 2020. My first priority is my novel. I want to have it finished to market by the end of the year. There are two contests I may enter, but other that, I won’t get sidetracked by competitions or anthologies this time. This novel and the following books in this series are my heart. It’s time it receives my full attention. 

To complicate matters, since I will have short stories out come next year, I will need to have a professional online presence. This will start with social media with the goal of having my own website and blog in place by 2021. That means I must come up with content to fill all those outlets, which takes time, time away from my novel. It will require some planning to still work on my book. Marketing is important, but it means nothing if I don’t have anything to promote.

Figure out what your priorities are for the coming year. Should you write your heart or write for every little opportunity out there? How much time should you spend on promotion? Your year will run smoother if you plan now.   

 

Finding Time to Write


Finding Time to Write

By Adam Huddleston

One of the greatest barriers to an author is finding an appropriate time and place to write.  Our busy lives have us running all over creation running errands and seeing to the minutia of life.  Some writers require peace and quiet in order to crate.  Others can happily type away while the Apocalypse is happening all around them.

I’ve always felt deep inside that I leaned toward the former requirement.  I tend to be distracted rather easily and usually need quiet in order to write.  However, having a full-time job and being the father of five makes that extremely difficult.  Fortunately, since I basically stare at a computer monitor all day in the pharmacy, I am able to find time every once in awhile to jot down a few lines in Google docs.  From there, I can send them to myself or print them out if they’re complete.  

It may sound cliché, but every writer must find what environment works best for them.  I hope this blog helps in some small way.

Happy writing!

Goal Setting for Writers


Goal Setting for Writers

Natalie Bright

 

3 in 24:

Identify 3 times in a 24-hour period to Write.

For example:

  1. Wake-up one hour early and join the 5 am writers club.
  2. Skip lunch with coworkers and write only new words on WIP Monday-Thursday.
  3. Stay up late on Friday, Sat., and Sun. to work on edits or blogs.

Study your list. Can you visualize yourself accomplishing these tasks? Can you see yourself with pen in hand or typing at the keyboard at the times and places you’ve chosen?

Setting achievable goals equals success.

Thanks for Following our Blog

Thanks to all of you who have followed this blog, Wordsmithsix, during the past year. We really appreciate you. Sending out our best wishes that you achieve your writing goals in 2020!

WHATEVER WORKS


WHATEVER WORKS

Lynnette Jalufka

Stephen King writes 2,000 words a day. Debbie Macomber writes 5,000. Michael Crichton wrote 10,000. So what does this mean for you as you set your writing goals for next year? Keep in mind that these are bestselling authors who don’t have another job that takes up the majority of their day.

The trick is to set a goal that works for you. You want one that’s not so high you can never reach it. If you can write 2,000 words everyday and still hold down a separate eight-hour job plus meal and travel time, then good for you. Way to go! But if you’re like me, that goal is too high. I need to sleep. 

I use time instead of word counts to calculate my daily writing. My goal this year was to write one hour five days a week. When I wrote my hour, I put a sticker, usually a smiling sun, on the wall calendar in my office. If I reached my goal for the week, I put another sticker with an inspiring message on Sunday. It’s encouraging to see all those happy stickers shining back at me. 

In 2020, I’ve decided to change my goal since I have much I want to accomplish. I aim to write 10 hours a week. That’s a big challenge, but my novel is calling. 

Remember, however you decide to keep track of your writing, your goal must be attainable. The key is to write something every day. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once said, “Anything is better than stagnation.” His daily word count was 3,000.