Good News Blog Fest: Trust for Public Land

I missed Friday’s post for the We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB that was started by Damyanti Biswas to share good news around the world. But here, now, is my good news!

I didn’t know about the Trust for Public Land until I saw this article in Architectural Digest.

From the Trust’s website: The Trust for Public Land works to protect the places people care about and to create close-to-home parks—particularly in and near cities, where 80 percent of Americans live. Our goal is to ensure that every child has easy access to a safe place to play in nature. We also conserve working farms, ranches, and forests; lands of historical and cultural importance; rivers, streams, coasts, and watersheds; and other special places where people can experience nature close at hand.

This park in the Bronx is just one example of what they’ve done to bring community together and offer a safe and fun place for kids and adults to play and relax.

I hope you read the (short) article and check out the Trust’s website. I love learning about new people and organizations who take the time and effort and have the passion and compassion to make our world’s a better place to live!

 

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Guest Blog: Relevant History

Thank you to Suzanne Adair for inviting me as a guest on her blog Relevant History.

Issues at the forefront of the news today—immigration and race, religion, and the treatment of women—were also important factors that, in 1775, helped shape the future of California and even the United States.

Approximately 240 colonists joined the expedition from Mexico to California.

In the blog post, I discuss these issues in the context of a colonization expedition in 1775–1776 from Mexico to California led by Juan Bautista de Anza, which is the setting for my novel Yakimali’s Gift.

You can read my blog post here. Enjoy!

 

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Good News Blog Fest: The Unlikely Librarian

It’s time for another We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB, started by Damyanti Biswas. In light of all the tragic, political, warring news we typically hear from around the world, Damyanti Biswas asked bloggers to highlight a news story that “shows love, humanity, and brotherhood.”

As a children’s author, this article about the Rainbow Reading Gardens really resonated with me. Well, more than that, Pak Baco’s story that he tells on YouTube made me cry. I cried because learning about people like him shows me there are good people in this world. Compassionate, caring people who are willing to step up and make a difference in others’ lives. In this case, Mr. Baco offered his house to be used as the local library. And instead of taking his afternoon nap, he became the “unlikely librarian.” I also have to give a big shout out to Nila Tanzil, the founder of the Rainbow Reading Gardens, which now has 29 libraries reaching 6,000 children in remote villages across 14 islands in Indonesia.

Please visit these other blogs for more good news, and let me know of any that you may have!

Belinda WitzenhausenEmerald BarnesEric LahtiInderpreet UppalLynn HallbrooksMary GieseMichelle WallacePeter NenaRoshan RadhakrishnanSimon FalkSusan ScottSylvia McGrath, Sylvia Stein

And you’re welcome to join the blogfest and “speak for peace.” Blogs are posted the last day of each month for the rest of 2017. Visit Damyanti’s website for details.

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Good News Blog: Plant It Forward

“My heart had been changed. And my life was probably going to change.”

I’m very excited about the We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB, and I want to thank Damyanti Biswas for inviting me to participate.

For the blogfest, in light of all the tragic, political, warring news we typically hear from around the world, Damyanti asked us to highlight a news story that “shows love, humanity, and brotherhood.”

The blogfest will take place the last day of each month now through the end of the year.

Today I’m highlighting this article about refugees and U.S. citizens coming together to “plant it forward.”

Please visit these other blogs for more good news, and let me know of any that you may have!

Belinda Witzenhausen Lynn Hallbrooks Simon Falk Sylvia McGrath Damyanti Biswas

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Would You Join in the We Are the World Blogfest? #WATWB #WriteBravely

Source: Would You Join in the We Are the World Blogfest? #WATWB #WriteBravely

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Good News Blog Fest! Music + Heart

I’m very excited about the We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB, and I want to thank Damyanti Biswas for inviting me to participate.

For the blogfest, in light of all the tragic, political, warring news we typically hear from around the world, Damyanti asked us to highlight a news story that “shows love, humanity, and brotherhood.”

The blogfest will take place the last day of each month now through the end of the year.

This month I want to share this story about Cambodian musician, Sophanna. When he was six years old, he watched his parents and grandmother die brutal deaths. Then he was paralyzed at the age of ten. Doctors said he only had one year to live.

Now, at age 26, he uses his music for his own happiness and to motivate and inspire others. “When I play the guitar and sing,” he says, “the pain and sadness in my life disappears.” He also offers free guitar, singing and English lessons.

I believe music can be a powerful way to share your emotions and reach out to others. Sophanna is one of those beautiful souls who does just that. In spite of all his suffering, he wants to “give back” to society.  “When I share what I have with others,” he says, “I feel love and warmth in my heart.”

Please visit these other blogs for more good news, and let me know of any that you may have!

Belinda Witzenhausen Lynn Hallbrooks Simon Falk Sylvia McGrath Damyanti Biswas

 

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Good News Blogfest!

I’m very excited about the We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB, and I want to thank Damyanti Biswas for inviting me to participate.

For the blogfest, in light of all the tragic, political, warring news we typically hear from around the world, Damyanti asked us to highlight a news story that “shows love, humanity, and brotherhood.”

The blogfest will take place the last day of each month now through the end of the year.

This week, I chose to highlight this article about David Young of New Orleans and the organization he founded: Capstone Community Gardens. He started the project to provide food for the low-income residents of the Ninth Ward, a predominately African-American district in New Orleans that still—after almost twelve years—hasn’t recovered from Hurricane Katrina.

Besides the gardens that are planted in 30 abandoned lots around the district, the Gardens have grown to include goats, chickens, and honeybees, which were due for extermination.

I love this ecosystem Young has created: volunteers to run the Gardens, weeds in abandoned lots “mowed” by goats, chickens laying eggs for the residents, and pollination and honey from the bees.

Please visit these other blogs for more good news, and let me know of any that you may have!

Belinda Witzenhausen Lynn Hallbrooks Simon Falk Sylvia McGrath Damyanti Biswas

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Revise Revise Revise!

opened book with ink feather tool - vector illustration

Here are some revision tips for writers, especially of fiction.

Analyze your story:

Reader should know almost immediately:

  • WHO main character is
  • WHERE story is taking place
  • WHEN it takes place
  • WHAT kind of story it is

Be able to answer:

  • What kind of person is my protagonist? Will the reader identify with
    him/her and his/her problem(s)?*
  • What is the best way to tell this character’s story? First person?
    Third person? Omnipotent observer? Is it a tragic story? A farce?*
  • Where do you START your story?*
  • What was the author saying? What was the focus of the story? Was the
    story worth reading? Why or why not?*

 

  • Make sure you’re in correct POV
  • Was that    had  (try to eliminate as many as possible)
  • Check for IT and THERE at the beginning of sentences
  • “As” and “ing” indicate parallel action, two actions happening at the same time.
  • Figures of speech (use them, but not too much. No cliches).
  • Varied sentence structure
  • Repetitive words and sentence structure
  • Too many italics, ellipses
  • Adverbs: try to replace with an action verb
  • “Again” or worse “once again.”
  • Toss “still” and “yet” onto the pile and use them sparingly.
  • Too many adjectives and adverbs. Delete and use better nouns and verbs.  Or replace with more unusual adjectives and adverbs.
  • Check for the word OF — it’s often an indication of a superfluous noun and is, itself, often unneeded:
    The level of the water rose as the rain continued.
    The water rose as the rain continued.
  • Redundancy (restating) (“shrugged her shoulders”   “blinked her eyes”)
  • Commas (especially missing ones in compound sentences)
  • Do not use ten words if five will do. Wordiness
  • Began to
  • Felt like
  • Started to
  • Seemed
  • Realized
  • Heard
  • Wondered
  • Decided
  • Saw
  • Too many compound sentences
  • Sentences starting with “And” “But” “Then”
  • Use all the SENSES
  1. Write every day.
  2. Observe and listen.
  3. Use strong verbs.
  4. Detail!
  5. A specific always beats an abstraction.
  6. Describe in motion.
  7. In dialogue, keep speeches short.
  8. Beware the use of habitual case (would), the passive voice and the word “there.”
  9. In the second draft, start deleting adverbs.
  10. Borrow widely, steal wisely.

  • Scenes:
  • Opening Line
  • One way: Bill walked into the diner, sat at the counter and scanned the menu for something not too greasy.
  • Better way: “Someone’s sitting there,” the man in the uniform said as Bill started to straddle the stool.
  • Moments (memorable, unexpected)
  • Feeling of ending and feeling of anticipation
  • First Aid: Focus
    Still can’t decide whether or not the scene you’ve just written belongs in your story? A scene should do two or more of these four things: 1)advance the plot, 2) develop the character(s), 3) illustrate the theme, 4) contribute to suspense (which in turn advances the plot). Read the scene again and when you’re finished complete the following sentences:
  1. The Plot Focus:
    The purpose of this scene is to ______________________________________.
    (Example: The purpose of this scene is to reveal the protagonist’s childhood abuses in order to provide motivation for her current actions.)
  2. The Character Focus:
    When the audience finishes this scene, they should feel ____________________.
    (Example: When the audience finishes this scene, they should feel sympathy for the protagonist, yet be skeptical of her reliability as a narrator.)
  3. The Theme Focus:
    When the audience finishes this scene, they should think____________________.
    (Example: When the audience finishes this scene, they should think that the protagonist has been using these abuses as an excuse for many other self-destructive actions.)
  4. The Suspense Focus:
    When the audience finishes this scene, they should wonder _________________.
    (Example: When the audience finishes this scene, they should wonder whether or not the protagonist will be able to overcome the horror of her childhood in order to reunite with her estranged mother.)

A good scene should do at least double duty, so if you can’t complete at least two of these sentences to your satisfaction, the scene either needs more work or needs to be cut.

From First to Final Draft: Five Steps of Revision
Step #1: Structure
Goal: Develop a clear and compelling plot.
What to Look For:
1) scenes that are too passive/dialogue scenes with no tension (“talking heads”)
2) scenes that don’t build-up/are anti-climactic (should have beginning, middle, end)
Step #2: Texture
Goal: Sharpen descriptive passages to make characters, setting, and action more vivid.
What to Look For:
1) too much or too little description
2) clichéd word choices
3) too many adjectives/adverbs
4) research information dump
5) background or setting information in wrong place.
 

Step #3: Dialogue
Goal: Elicit character personality through conversation.
What to Look For:
1) too many tag lines
2) too few tag lines
3) tag lines in the wrong place
4) tag lines that contain too much info
5) yet another info dump
6) bland or melodramatic lines
 

Step #4: Editing
Goal: Tighten pace and continuity.
What to Look For:
1) repetition through implication
2) slow passages
How to Fix: Cut.  Cut.  Cut.

Step #5: Blending
Goal: Search and destroy any weaknesses.
What to Look For:
Soft spots: unclear character motivations, actions that seem contrived, etc.
How to Fix: Most of the above problems can be solved by expanding a scene or adding a new scene.

Novels: Does each character play an important part? The word “said” is invisible and is the word of choice in dialogue; avoid “he whispered,” “she groaned,” etc. Look at the end of each chapter. Is there a hook?

FROM MARGIE LAWSON’S EMPOWERING CHARACTER’S EMOTIONS:

  • Backloading
  • Fresh facial expressions
  • Basic, Complex, Empowered, Super-empowered
  • Power words
  • Theme-related words
  • Fresh paralanguage, vocal cues (tone, inflection, pitch, quality, rate of voice: His voice dropped to a coarse whisper)
  • Use subtext (underlying meaning of words shown through TIME: Thought, Inflection, Movement, Expression
  • Readers need to know exactly what your character is feeling through emotion, internalization, or dialogue
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Shower the People You Love With Love

The other night I watched the televised Kennedy Center Honors. (You can view the entire show here.) What an amazing night! The honorees were James Taylor, singer Mavis Staples, pianist Martha Argerich, actor Al Pacino, and The Eagles.

2016 Kennedy Center Honorees pose for a group photo after a gala dinner at the U.S. State Department, in Washington, U.S., December 3, 2016. From L-R: (seated) actor Al Pacino, singer Mavis Staples, pianist Martha Argerich, singer-songwriter James Taylor; (standing) members of rock band Eagles, Joe Walsh, Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit. REUTERS/Mike Theiler - RTSUJND

2016 Kennedy Center Honorees pose for a group photo after a gala dinner at the U.S. State Department, in Washington, U.S., December 3, 2016. From L-R: (seated) actor Al Pacino, singer Mavis Staples, pianist Martha Argerich, singer-songwriter James Taylor; (standing) members of rock band Eagles, Joe Walsh, Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit. REUTERS/Mike Theiler – RTSUJND

Along with the rest of the audience, Michele and President Obama rocked out to various artists who performed the work of the honorees. They sang along to rock classics, including Fire and Rain, Hotel California, and Life in the Fast Lane. I laughed when I saw that even Obama was singing along with that last one.

To honor Martha Argerich, pianist Yuja Wang played Piazzola Grand Tango. I wasn’t familiar with Wang or the piece she played, but what a powerful and emotion-filled performance! Then violinist Itzhak Perlman (who I am familiar with and love) and pianist Yefim Bronfman performed a Beethoven Sonata for Violin and Piano. Simply beautiful and very moving.

It was fun seeing clips of all Al Pacino’s movies, and segments from movies, comedy skits, etc., that were inspired by his acting and the roles he played. One of our greatest actors!

And then there’s Mavis Staples, her own songs and the ones she made famous with the Staple Singers. Bonnie Raitt and Andra Day, backed by a gospel choir, sang the civil rights movement anthem We Shall Not Be Moved, which, unfortunately, is still relevant today, and not only for African Americans, but for women, the LGBT community, and all non-whites.

But the song that still echoes in my head is James Taylor’s Shower the People, performed by Garth Brooks. On this New Year’s Eve, throughout 2017, and beyond, I will replay that song in my head and in my heart. Love can conquer hate.

Shower the people you love with love, show them the way you feel.

Things are gonna be much better if you only will.

Happy New Year!

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New Book Promo Sites, Blogging, Freebies… – Indies Unlimited

Thanks to Christoph Fischer for this information!

writerchristophfischer

Source: New Book Promo Sites, Blogging, Freebies… – Indies Unlimited

New Book Promo Sites, Blogging, Freebies…

book-promotion-megaphone-1480342_960_720As we constantly search for ways to introduce readers to our work, a few opportunities have recently crossed my path. There are two new promotion sites that look promising, Amazon have added Prime Reading to their Prime program, giving away your product seems like it could be advantageous once again, and there’s another outlet where you can blog.

Here are my findings.

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