Guest Author Laurie Boris

I’m guest posting on Aron Joice’s site today, so come visit! I’d love to see you.

ARON JOICE

Today  I’d like to welcome Laurie Boris. Aside from Laurie’s many talents, she is one of those individuals who makes you comfortable right at the get go. Laurie is a true pleasure.

AuthorLaurieBoris_abnaKnowing is The First Step

A lot of writers talk about the moment they “knew” of their calling to the page. Not just the time they decided to refer to themselves as writers, perhaps a little shyly testing the waters at a gathering of friends and hoping nobody would laugh or start in with the maddening questions we are all asked: Are you published? Do you make any money at that? Do you know Oprah? No, I’m talking about that crystalline instant when it comes together in our little hearts that yes, this is what we are and this is what we do, and that we might as well give in or go crazy fighting it. Maybe for…

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Calendar Girl

Writing-Stimulus-Package-2014-Front-Cover-253x300tried. Really, I tried. But electronic calendar devices and I get along like Chris Christie and…well, just about everyone lately. Oh, back in the 90s it was kind of cool to whip out my stylus and zap my next chiropractor appointment onto a tiny square in a tiny month in the screen of my Palm Pilot. Except any time I wanted to check my schedule, I had to first find the device (oops, left it at work again), hope that it still had a charge, and then peck around for the month and date. And if I lost it, I’d be screwed.

Print calendars are SO much easier, I’d think, every time I’d get that annoyed call from the chiropractor’s assistant telling me I’d missed another appointment, or when I left the device in my car on a cold night and it wouldn’t boot up in the morning.

That’s why for years afterward, I used my good old Franklin-Covey day planner, building up my shoulder muscles and making more work for my chiropractor by carrying the behemoth everywhere I went. Maybe I was working myself into a case of scoliosis, but I could SEE my whole week in front of me. I had a special index for the birthdays I needed to remember. A place to jot down all those stray thoughts and character notes. Aside from the weight and having to buy a refill annually, it did everything I needed it to.

That all changed when an iPad entered my life. With not just the native calendar app but also several variations of scheduling software to choose from, most for free or a couple dollars at the most, it seemed silly and wasteful to keep ordering those paper refills.

So I went electronic. I plugged in all those birthdays, all those recurring appointments, and the contact information for everyone I needed to contact. I was in a learning curve, I told myself. I’d get adjusted, and really, wasn’t this so much better for the earth than contributing to the killing of so many trees?

Until last January, when I upgraded the operating system and lost everyone’s birthdays.

About that same time, the lovely KS Brooks sent me a copy of Indies Unlimited’s first Writing Stimulus Package and Planner. Lo and behold. A calendar. In print. It opened up on my desk and I didn’t need to hang it on the wall. I could see it, the whole month, at all times, and it still booted up if I left it in the car overnight! But it was much more than a calendar. The left-hand pages contained a photo, a writing prompt, and space to write what that inspired while I was on hold or when I needed to stir my brain up.

Immediately I appointed that planner as my writing calendar. I kept track of my blogging deadlines, conferences, workshops, when I was putting my books on sale: basically anything related to my editing, writing, or promotion.

It gets better, kids. At the back of the book are handy and helpful reference sheets for writers: worksheets on character development, chapter formatting, how to write the dreaded, evil blurb, and even some common editing errors.

I typed the character development sheet into my computer so I could use it for all the characters in my current WIP, and it’s fantastic to have all that at my fingertips so I don’t give the protagonist blue eyes in chapter one and brown eyes during the climax. (No, he doesn’t wear contacts.)

I’m still looking for a good program to help me remember birthdays, but as for the rest of it? This is now my calendar. I’ve just ordered the 2014 edition. And my chiropractor can find someone else to finance his children’s college education.

The Editing Myth

dreamstime_14649214On Indies Unlimited: Food for thought by Melissa Bowersock about her experience with being edited (or not, actually) by traditional publishers versus the editorial control she has as an indie author.

Although for most authors, I recommend hiring a professional editor, at the minimum, get your manuscript in front of beta readers who can give you honest, thorough critiques and fresh eyes to catch errors. As Martin Crosbie has frequently written in his posts and in his book, How I Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle: An Easy-To-Follow Self-Publishing Guidebook, we indie authors have a larger target on our backs than traditionally published authors. Therefore it’s up to us to ensure that we’re producing the best quality product that we can.

Your thoughts, as always, are welcome.

Writing Characters Outside the Box

Fisheye Scorn - You're in Deep TroubleI hate stereotypes. I get why they exist; human brains like order. They process a lot of information, so they want to sort things into boxes and get on with the day.

But we—individual people—are not tick boxes on a form. We are not the sum of the things people claim we are. We are not X, Y, and Z because our skin is a certain color, or our grandparents were born in a particular country, or because of whom we love.

When I think about how stereotypes apply to writing, I keep coming back to an amazing author and professor I studied under years ago, who cautioned women writers never to write from a man’s point of view. It’s a topic I’ve tackled before but it still applies to so many situations. Continue reading “Writing Characters Outside the Box”

Are You Appositive About That?

dreamstime_14649214One of the trickier tricks with commas is figuring out how to use them around appositives. An appositive is a noun or a noun phrase in apposition (used to describe) another noun. Um…what? Here’s an example:

Professor Katydid, award-winning entomologist, will be lecturing tonight on the mating habits of Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Continue reading “Are You Appositive About That?”