Writing the Preface

Do you ever read the preface in books? I do. It seems they should be read as a tribute to the writer, also, there is background to the stories and information about to be given.

Write a preface for whatever you are currently working on. What information would you like to add for the reader before they start to read? What should they know about the process of writing, the interesting things you learned along the way.

Ideas, Experiences and Knowledge

Where do you get your ideas?

There are endless sources for ideas. It’s only when you have a dry spell that the next idea seems like mirage in the desert. Avoid a dry spell with some planning ahead. Build an oasis of ideas you can always come back to, pack them away like an idea bank.

Most of your ideas will come from yourself, your experiences, reactions and feelings. So expand your experiences, think of things you haven’t done yet, things you would like to learn and know more about. Go to sources of experience like museums where you can see displays of things you have only read of in books. You may not want to be a demolition driver but you can go to a demolition race and see it first hand, talk to people, wipe mud off your jacket. Seek out new experiences, you never know what you will find along the way.

Keep your mind open as well as your five senses. Don’t be someone who walks with their face looking down at their feet. There is so much you miss when you keep your world so narrow and small. Some little thing could inspire you in new ways. A hundred people can pass by a weed poking up through the sidewalk or bird’s nest on the ground, or a million other things. But, most people don’t actually look at any of it. The smallest things can give you ideas and inspiration if you let your creative mind see them and add them to the data base of ideas, thoughts and knowledge already in your head.

Read. That’s simple enough. A writer should also make notes about what they read. I even clip out articles and make my own hand written notes on them. If you find something at the library or the bookstore scribble yourself some notes or get a copy of it. A photocopy works at the library but at the bookstore you either have to write a note or snap a photo so you can read it later. (Maybe taking a photo isn’t entirely ethical, but if I use the information I do give my source. I just can’t afford to buy every book or magazine that catches my imagination). Keep your notes, clipped articles and other media in a Writing Folder and try to keep it organized by niche, topic or genre.

Most of this isn’t new information. However, it doesn’t hurt to remember to do all you can do.  No writer needs to have writer’s block or run dry of ideas if they keep working on a flow of ideas, experiences and knowledge.

Create Your Personal Almanac

I like to pick up The Farmer’s Almanac each year. I’m not a farmer, not even a heavy gardener. I just enjoy the articles, and the pictures. A few years ago we got a Canadian Almanac from the magazine, Harrowsmith Country Life. So this is the one I pick up now.

Create a personal almanac, like an inventory of your life. Make lists of ideas, people, places and things that have mattered to you at different times in your life. Keep adding information as you think of it. Basically an almanac is an annual reference book with statistics, predictions and other facts about an industry, business, country or some other person, place or thing.

Your almanac could include:

  • Your areas of expertise
  • Your family tree
  • Memorable firsts
  • Memorable lasts
  • Moments of greatness
  • Moments of weakness
  • Jobs you have had
  • Goals you have had or are working towards
  • Dreams (while sleeping) and daydreams
  • Things you have created or built
  • School memories
  • Material things that mattered to you (clothes, knickknacks, etc.)
  • Unforgettable people
  • Unforgettable places
  • Favourite things (books, foods, people and places, etc.)
  • Things you would change
  • Issues that matter to you, or that you have a strong opinion about

Extra Resources:

Confessions of a Book Addict

@YourNeedtoRead on Twitter posted:

Sometimes I call in sick just so I can read.#Confessionsofabookaddict

What would your Confessions of a Book Addict be?

I can confess that (as a kid) I would get up in the middle of the night and read. Not just in bed, but in the bathroom so no one would see the light from my bedroom. (The bathroom was farther down the hall). I don’t do that anymore. I just read in bed all night now.

I can also confess that I have stacks of books to read. Somehow I can not read them as fast as I can find books I want to read. I think this is yet another sign that I need to find the secret of immortality. I don’t have time to get senile and die, I have too much reading to do.

Don’t Slay the Dragon, Untangle It

Most of us could slay dragons if we had to. We can comprehend the urgency of one courageous, ultimate act. What we hate is swatting flies – dealing with the repetitive everyday challenges of life and work.

Most problems in life and writing aren’t solved by slashing decisively through them. They are teased apart, tendril by tendril, until the whole flows freely.

It can help to have a plan.

What obstacles do you anticipate today, in working on the project before you? How could you gently untangle them? What difficulties stand in the way of your life as a writer? What alternatives exist for untwisting them?

I’m going to think, today, of obstacles as tangles to untie. I’ll start with the thread that is nearest me.

Quoted from Susan Shaughnessy, her book, ‘Walking on Alligators’.

I couldn’t find a link to a site, blog or even a Twitter account for Susan Shaughnessy. If someone knows of one leave a link in comments. I always try to find the people behind the books meant to inspire writers to keep writing.

Blog Book Tour

A blog book tour is a virtual book promotion done through weblogs and social media.

Bloggers are asked to make posts about the book on tour. The posts usually contain links to the author and a place where the book is available for purchase. Some posts are author interviews, information on the book’s topic or a straight forward book review (if you were able to read it ahead of time). The more creative and interesting the post the more likely it will stand out and give your blog extra promotion through the book tour. Bloggers may get a review copy of the book.

Although the blog tour is not new online it is still a new concept to many writers. You might hire a blog book tour service or do it yourself. As a blogger you can contact the tour services and offer yourself/ your blog to host a tour.

I’ve done it from the side of the blogger, once, in my personal blog. I didn’t have to do very much. Just make sure I had the post ready to go on the right day with all the right links and formatting. The writer did the real work, including approaching me with the idea, offering me ideas to post and making sure I did post something on the day I was scheduled to post.

Blog Book Tour Services:

ARC Tours depend on bloggers reviewing an author review copy (ARC) of the book and then sending it on to the next person/ blogger to review it. This leaves a lot of time between reviews and it is pretty easy for a tour to be blocked when a book fails to appear at the next destination. They are also limited by mailing distance, the cost of shipping the book to international locations. However, partly because of these things, the ARC blog tour is free or fairly cheap for an author to use in promoting their book.

Guest Post: The Benefits of Online Education

In today’s technological age, many people choose to attend online colleges, universities and technical institutes rather than brick and mortar educational establishments. While there are both benefits and drawbacks to online education, technological advancements have corrected many of its drawbacks, such as the lack of student teacher interaction and class discussion, which has made online education a viable option for any type of student.

Convenience

An online educational experience will simply fit better into your life than a brick and mortar educational experience. There are no scheduled classes for online colleges. You can learn the material when it is most convenient for you. This flexibility can be a lifesaver for anyone who must maintain full time job responsibilities, but who wants to improve the quality of life for themselves and their families by earning a higher income.

Furthermore, an online educational experience avoids the inconvenience of either relocating to an area near a brick and mortar institution with the program in which you wish to enroll, or having to commute long distances to classes. Not only does this make your life less hectic, it saves on time and money. Through online classes, you can complete your degree from an accredited institution from the comfort of your own home.

Quality

Online educational institutions are growing in number and prominence. This proliferation has brought a dramatic increase in the quality of online educational experiences. In most cases, online degree programs are at least as well regarded as their brick and mortar equivalents. A common belief is that online programs lack the teacher student interaction that is necessary for quality education. Contrary to this belief, new technology has made online classroom experiences just as interactive as physical classroom experiences.

For example, you might think that a quality art degree lend itself to brick and mortar institutions only. However, in reality, graduates from accredited online art schools receive equal employment opportunities. Technology such as interactive video conferencing enables online instructors at accredited online art schools to monitor each step of students’ artistic development. These instructors work with students to produce professional level portfolios that are competitive with the portfolios of job applicants anywhere.

Cost

Online educational institutions are considerably less expensive than their brick and mortar counterparts. This is because online colleges have far lower overhead costs. They don’t have to pay for building rental, electricity, heat, property tax, or any other facility related expenses. Their expenses are simply the salaries of their instructors, domain space and costs associated with the use of copyrighted material. This translates into lower tuition for you. High tuition is one of the major factors preventing people from attaining college degrees, and online institutions enable millions to achieve their college dreams.

Even materials are cheaper for students attending online educational institutions. Usually, online colleges require students to purchase e-book alternative text books to the physical text books required by brick and mortar institutions. This can save hundreds of dollars, as most of the costs of textbooks are related to their physical manufacture.

Jameson Carney is a 20-something, artist and culture fanatic from the mid-west. In his free time you will find him traveling the world and advocating for online education.