20 Writing Prompts to Keep You Out of the Summer Slump

20 Writing Prompts to Keep You Out of the Summer Slump

watermelon-in-summer

Summer is a busy time for most people. Traveling to see relatives. Vacations. Kids out of school! The days go quickly and often our writing takes a backseat to other pleasures.

Although the heat of summer days and lure of the great outdoors may interfere with our daily writing routine, there are ways to stay engaged and still make it fun. As a prevention to the summer slump, here is a list of suggested topics to keep you writing:

I know summer is here when…

The 5 Senses of Summer. Think about how you experience the summer months with your senses. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Touch?

My favorite summer memory…

Imagine summer from a perspective of 200 years ago. What would you or your main character be doing, wearing, or eating?

My dream vacation would be…

Take some summer photos and put words to the pictures. This could be vacation pictures of just a jaunt through the local park.

I’ll never forget the summer when…

My ideal summer day takes place when…

What does the 4th of July mean to me? Take a trip down Memory Lane and reconnect with your patriotice roots.

My first summer job…the good and the bad.

Make one of your vacations the backdrop for a short story.

The ups and downs of summer camp…friends, counselors, food, and fun!

My favorite flavor of ice cream is…summer

How my schedule changes in the summer months.

My favorite backyard memory. What comes to mind when you think of growing up in your backyard?

Are you a hot weather or cold weather person? Which season do you prefer and why?

How I overcame the boredom of summer.

Capture your campfire memories…food, activities, songs.

My favorite things to do in and around the pool.

When summer ends I feel…

These 20 prompts should keep your writing flowing throughout the summer. Have fun reminiscing and putting words to those memories as you keep the summer slump at bay.

 

 

10 Creative Ways to Honor Your Parents

10 Creative Ways to Honor Your Parents

Woody Allen once said, “I don’t think my parents liked me. They put a live teddy bear in my crib!”

While we all have a few harrowing experiences from our youth, most of us have fond memories of mom and dad. Parents teach us to smile, help us make wise choices, and endure all of the trying times that lead to adulthood.

A traditional celebration includes taking parents out for a meal, sending flowers, or purchasing a gift. As a mom who has celebrated many a Mother’s Day, I always appreciate the presents, but it is the heartfelt expressions that I remember most. What parent does not long to hear words of thanks or recall sweet memories of past times?

This year, in addition to the practical gifts we give, consider giving a creative expression of love. The following are a few inexpensive ways to remember your parents, but are nevertheless priceless in value. They are messages of love and appreciation for those who cared for us during our formative years.

1. Make an original card. Get the kids to contribute their artistic flair. Or purchase one of the recordable cards available at a local store. Record your voice telling mom or dad how much you appreciate them. It is a gift that will be played over and over.

2. Create an acrostic with the word M.O.T.H.E.R. or F.A.T.H.E.R. Use one word to describe each letter. If you create this on the computer, add photos, pictures, or graphics, and then print it out and place it in a Mother's Dayframe.

3. Write a “Thank You” letter to your parent. List the unique qualities that make them a good mother or father or write the traits your parent leaves as a legacy in the family.

4. Publish a memory book. Include pictures and memories from the special moments in his or her life. There are a number of companies that offer this service for a reasonable price…Walmart.com and Shutterfly.com are two options.

5. Compose a prayer thanking God for your parent. Then pray the words over them on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Frame a copy of the prayer so they can read it often.

6. Act it out! For those families that have a dramatic flair, pick significant times from mom or dad’s past and act them out. Craft a cheer. Act out a play or memorable scene from their life.

7. Sing a song especially for them. Write your original words to a known tune or compose a new song. Belt it out with gusto!

8. Make a movie or other presentation with photos from their life. Set it to their favorite song or have family members narrate each picture.

9. Present a bouquet of flowers, but with a unique twist. Bring the flowers one at a time. Let each family member tell mom or dad why they are special as they present the flower.

10. Create a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day coupon book. Include a coupon from different members of the family who promise to perform a certain task when asked.Super Mom

Finally, if you still need some creative inspiration, download a free copy of “10 Things I Want My Mom to Know” and “10 Things I Want My Dad to Know.” Each full-color printable has ten different questions with fill-in-the-blanks like “The best advice my Mom ever gave me…,” “The three words I would use to describe my Dad are…,” and “If my Mom had a superpower it would be…”

How important is the act of honoring our parents? God placed it in his top ten list. The fifth commandment states Honor your father and your mother. (Exodus 20:12) Let this holiday season inspire you to give back to those wonderful people who invested so much to you.

Ready, Set, Self-Publish! The 7 Steps of Preparation

Ready, Set, Self-Publish! The 7 Steps of Preparation

Self-Publish

A self-published author must wear a variety of hats. Writing is just the first step in the process. In his classic book APE: How to Publish a Book, Guy Kawasaki describes the multi-faceted role of a self-published author. She is Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur.

When you are ready to see your book in print, it’s time to move into the publisher mode. With a little practice and patience, you can manage this process yourself. Here is my list of seven basic steps that prepares your book for publication.

7 Steps to Prepare for Self-Publishing

#1 Write the Manuscript in Its Final Form

The final copy-edit should be complete. This can be done by you or with a professional editor. (see my post The 5 C’s for Choosing the Right Freelance Editor ) Identify any pictures, graphics, or tables that will be included in the body text. If you are using pictures, make sure you have obtained copyright permission to use them. Also, shrink pictures down to a low resolution suitable for the printing format you will use.

#2 Determine Your Budget

Publishing can be expensive and the costs can easily get out of hand. You may need a graphic designer for the cover, someone to format your book, and marketing help once it is published. Make a list of those items that you are able to provide, what is needed to ensure your book’s success, and which items will need to be contracted. Set some budget guidelines for each of these items and determine to stay within them.

#3 Choose Your Publishing Format

Your first question…will my book be electronic and/or in physical print? If you decide to go digital, the most popular formatting choices are mobi, ePub, or PDF. Click here for a more detailed comparison of these and other eBook formats.

Print formats are dictated by the individual publisher. They will supply a list of pre-determined formatting parameters that are acceptable. These guidelines include margin, typeface, font and much more. The publisher may also suggest compatible software with their individual publishing company.

#4 Select the Publisher

This may be the most difficult step and will take some investigative work on your part. Some questions to consider will be…

  • Do you want hard copies of your book?
  • How much are you able to financially contribute to the actual publishing?
  • What services do you need and how are they provided by the publisher?
  • Which marketing and distribution channels does the publisher use?

#5 Create Front and Back Mattertable-of-contents

These are additional pages which are added to the front and back of your book. You will want to include a title page, copyright page, and table of contents as well as an author page at the end. Other options are a dedication, forward, preface, appendix, or bibliography. If you are going with an ebook, keep it simple!

#6 Format Your Book

Once you have chosen your publisher, find their specific guidelines. Publishers will insist that your submission comply with their standards. For a print book, this means book size (i.e. 6×9, 8 ½ x 11), margins, trim size, even font. Digital publishers will have a set of parameters that you must meet in order to fit their templates. Once you know the requirements, you can format the book yourself or hire a professional to prepare the manuscript.

#7 Design a Cover

Your cover is the first impression of your book. It will influence a potential reader to take a closer look or skim past it in their search. The 3 Second Rule means a potential buyer will decide in 3 seconds whether your book is worth consideration.

As a self-published author, you may want to be frugal. But, if you do not have the skills to create a compelling cover, hire a graphic artist to design one for you. Also remember to include back copy, a picture of yourself and short bio (this is optional and you should check the current trend) ISBN number (if you choose ), and bar code.

As a self-published author, you may be tempted to cut corners and do the entire work yourself. Be frugal when it is possible, but also realize you may need to invest some upfront money. Publishing is a process just like writing…don’t scrimp on time or money. Ensure that the quality of your published book reflects the quality of your written work.

eBook Format for the Self-Publisher

eBook Format for the Self-Publisher

Kindle Mobi Format

Not all eReaders are the same. And not all self-publishing formats are can be read on every eReader. So what dictates your formatting choice?

The final destination of your published eBook will become the driving force behind how you prepare your eBook for publication.

With several choices available, there are a few questions to ask. Where will my eBook be available for downloading? Which device accepts that format? Which formats are the most popular?

To answer these questions, we will look at how formats work and then the most popular ones in self-publishing today.

eBook Files

The format files for eBooks contain more than just text files. Instead of a fixed layout where certain words will always appear on a specific page, most digital books have reflowable text. This means that for any given device, the text may be adjusted or will “flow” to fill the prescribed parameters of the eReader.

eBook files are a combination of many different types depending upon the complexity of the eBook. Within each .zip file that is uploaded to the publisher, you will find…

  • A file that contains only the unformatted text. This is the basic text of the eBook.iPad ePub Format
  • A file that tells the eReader how to display elements of the text. This file is the CSS or coding file which regulates how the type will be displayed. For example, in Adobe InDesign, the style comes from two sources. Paragraph Style defines how the elements of different paragraphs (margins, indent, spacing) will be displayed. Character Style influences the individual structure of each word. will they appear normal, italic, drop cap, etc.? When the document is prepared for publication, there are files that reflect these selections.
  • Other files that contain information, such as images, ISBN, and other elements of the eBook.

Popular eBook Formats

Every eReader has its own format preference. The following are the most popular in today’s digital landscape:

  • Epub. The standard format for digital publishing is Epub. Most eReaders will accommodate these files. The devices which support Epub are Apple iPad and iPhone, Kobo eReader, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader, and Android phones.
  • Mobi. Kindle readers will not work with ePub files. Instead, Amazon has developed its own version and called it Mobi. In order to read a book on Kindle, you must obtain it from Amazon and use its Mobi format.
  • AZW. This is Amazon’s adaptation of the Mobi format for devices other than Kindle. An eReader may download the Kindle eBook Reader and access AZW files from the Amazon bookstore.
  • PDF. The Portable Document Format has been around for years. It was developed by Adobe and is easily used on most any device. PDF files maintain the original format of the document.

If you write in MSWord, Pages, or OpenOffice, you will have to convert your book to at least one digital format. In order to reach the greatest amount of readers, you should publish in several, Epub and Mobi being the biggest. For more information about how to convert those book files, catch my next post.

 

 

Tucker: the Amazing Dog… A Children’s Picture Book

Tucker: the Amazing Dog… A Children’s Picture Book

Tucker Digital Cover

Where does inspiration originate?

For me, it comes from ordinary events that become extraordinary.  One slight shift transforms the mundane into the magical. Sometimes it is a change of perspective or it may be a quirky twist to the usual. But if it catches my eye, I must respond.

Tucker: The Amazing Dog is the result of such an inspiration. Tucker is my granddog. He is a long-haired, wire-haired dachshund that belongs to my daughter, Laurie.

Adopted at the age of one, Tucker lived most of his early life in a kennel. But once he arrived at his new home and tasted freedom, he quickly developed into a playful pup.

Over the years, Tucker has endeared himself to our family. When he comes to visit, my granddog races from the car across the front yard barking and wriggling in excitement. He is glad to see his Grammy!

Tucker is quirky, affectionate, and sometimes just downright funny. Between my daughter Laurie and myself, we have captured many of his antics on camera.

So, what do you do with a  loveable, little dog that makes you smile? (more…)

25 Ways to Increase Your Creativity

25 Ways to Increase Your Creativity

Creative Picture

A writer is an explorer. Every step is an advance into a new land. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Are you left-brained or right brained? We like to categorize people according to which half of the brain functions at the highest level. Left-brained dominance typically means a person is analytical, logical, rational, and objective. Right brained dominance indicates a preference for thought, intuition, art and music, risk-taking, and especially creativity.

Why should we settle for one particular sphere? What if we could stimulate both sides of the brain, establish new thought patterns, and literally increase our creative flow? Science has proved one simple fact…

From a practical standpoint, certain actions stimulate the creative parts of our brain. The more we routinely work within these areas, the more the electrical pathways get established and connected.

How do we increase our ability to think, process, and generate out-of-the-box ideas? Adopt one or more of these 25 exercises to build your creativity.

25 Ways to Increase Your Creativity 

  1. Use a mirror and write backwards into it. ( see my post on Increase Your Creativity: Follow in the Footsetps of Leonardo)
  2. Carry a journal with you at all times for recording observations, inspirations, and idea
  3. Doodle. Let your mind relax and draw a picture.
  4. Practice silence. Let your senses pick up the world around you.
  5. Write in a different genre. If you are a fiction writer, write something non-fiction and vice versa.
  6. Study the lives and practices of other creative people.
  7. Refine your ability to ask questions. Re-frame your perspective and ask who, what, when, where, and why.
  8. Mindmap your ideas. This frees you from the constraints of your controlling left hemisphere and enriches your learning experience by using both sides of the brain.
  9. Exercise and stay in shape. Your brain consumes 30% of your oxygen intake so the more oxygen, the greater your brain capacity and function.
  10. Listen to music, especially classical pieces. Einstein listened to Mozart.
  11. Write by hand instead of on a digital device.
  12. Meditate.
  13. Take up another creative expression like painting, quilting, music, jewelry making or another fine art. As creativity develops in one discipline, it grows in the others.
  14. Spend 15 minutes writing with your non-dominant hand.
  15. Try free writing for a short time. Take 5 minutes and put pen to paper recording anything that pops into your head.
  16. Tell stories. Engage your mind and body by relaying a story to someone.
  17. Use your hands to express yourself. Try communicating with gestures for a brief time.
  18. Enjoy nature. Immerse yourself in the wonder of God’s creation and activate your senses.paint-878820_1280
  19. Try something new. Expand your brain capacity.
  20. Visit a foreign country or have a multi-cultural experience.
  21. Read…a lot. Try different genres of books as well as varied authors.
  22. Daydream. Let your mind wander which closes down certain parts of the brain and allows other ideas to pop to the surface.
  23. Take a nap. Give your mind a rest.
  24. Diversify your life. Add something different, unique, or challenging to accessorize the routine.
  25. Brainstorm ideas. Do a brain-drain of all of your ideas on a subject. No editing allowed!

We may begin with a preference towards one side of the brain, but that is only a starting point. Take the time to exercise your brain in new ways and increase your creativity today!

 

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