Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Author Copyright

New Author Supplies store(click here).

Help protect your "Work" (manuscript) with a statement of common law ownership, a form of copyright. Using a copyright statement is the first step to protect the Work. This should be done before sending all or part of a manuscript to an agent or publisher. You can turn to your publisher or a group such as LegalZoom, but I recommend doing it yourself for unpublished Works and also to register a published Work's copyright.   

The U. S. Copyright Office also registers unpublished documents (for a fee):
"Deposit requirements for literary works depend on whether a work has been published at the time of registration. For unpublished works, one complete copy or phonorecord is required. If you use the electronic Copyright Office (eCO) to register your unpublished work, you can submit your deposit electronically. See sl-35 for details about eCO. If you choose to submit a hard-copy deposit or to register using a paper application, there is no specific requirement regarding the printing, binding, format, or paper size and quality of the unpublished manuscript material you deposit. Typewritten, photocopied, and legibly handwritten manuscripts, preferably in ink, are all acceptable. However, because deposit material represents the entire copyrightable content of a work submitted for registration, copies deposited in a format that will facilitate handling and long-term storage (for example, stapled, bound, or clipped material) are greatly appreciated by the Copyright Office." - Source: U. S. Copyright Office website

Copyright applies only to the version registered with an official entity like a government copyright office. Changes require new copyright. 

I use the process below until a Work is published: 

Prepare your author copyright statement with your name or pen name. For example:

Copyright (c) 2014 Portia V. Huber

Put your copyright statement in the header or footer of each document connected with your Work. For now, let's assume that the Work documents are chapters.
  1. Open Chapter 1.
  2. Find how to access Header or Footer (in Microsoft Word, go to the View menu and click on "Header...Footer" - the Top or Bottom "box" on any page of the chapter.
  3. Type your copyright statement into the blank space of either the Header or Footer; you could put it in both, if it makes you feel better.
  4. Click anywhere on the text page of Chapter 1 to get out of the Header/Footer box and back to the text.
  5. Save the changes.
  6. Notice that your copyright statement now appears on every page of Chapter 1.
  7. Continue working or close the chapter.
  8. Repeat 1-7 to add copyright statement to every chapter.
TIP #1 Add the Chapter Title (or Number) to the Header; use the Insert feature to insert page numbers. When you work with printouts of the chapter, these steps could save a lot of time or prevent mix-ups later.

TIP #2 Build this process into a habit for added protection for you and your writing.

TIP #3 You can create second "Read Only" versions of your chapters, for anyone you want to give you feedback, after the steps above are followed. Be sure to keep your working documents not "Read only"!

copyright claim
common copyright
legal copyright
document rights
copyright registration
rights of ownership
costs to register a copyright

Thanks! to writers whose questions have influenced 2013 topics here at Author Support. Looking forward to blogging more in 2014. 


Copyright (c) 2013 Jean P. Purcell

Monday, December 30, 2013

"Writer, who are you?"

"Who am I to think I can/have the right to/know enough to do/say/try this to that?" A New Year is upon us and what better time to change such thinking? 

"I don't think of myself as an 'author'." This was said by a writer with a book manuscript. Could I convince her that having an unpublished manuscript did allow her to see herself as an author? If she would not think it, then who would?

Here's another one: "I just write for myself." Unless we're talking about a diary, I don't buy that. Communicating is at the core of the writing life.

I plead guilty of having been shy about talking about my work. I avoided putting it out there. But, shyness was a ridiculous hindrance that had to be wrestled against. It's an ongoing exercise, to force away the doubts and the reluctance to go public. No one is forced to read it, so I write for those who want to.

We gotta get over it, as we say, to rebuff feelings of comparative ineptness. We have to get up again and again to ignore self-judgment that goes way too far. Otherwise, this pattern will continue to fog up constructive criticism that, by the way, always helps while it hurts.

The best way to kill this nonsense in a New Year is motivation to focus on the pleasures and initiative of the writing life. Writing is a creative adventure, and that's what we love! We gravitate to this as a beaver (they are inventive creatures, you know) lunges for its prey. So, like the beaver, we become more adept as we go public while we work.

I'm eager to go find some prey, some recurring or new thoughts and stories ready for seizing. You know we share a love of the grit and the enthusiasm! School's out for now. So...

Happy New Year! Celebrate! 

God continues to make all things new, beyond all that we can ask or think.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Writing Bread

New Author Supplies store(click here)

Flour-loose collection of words 

Yeast-resting, kneading words to allow word power to rise

Oil-a fluid blend for cohesiveness

Salt-for fullness of taste

Those are four Ingredients I see in recipes for homemade bread.

The thought comes that bread in biblical times and on certain Jewish holidays today leaves out the yeast. There's a historical reason for that: yeast requires time to make bread rise. At Passover in Egypt, the people had to leave quickly.

The ingredient I can say the least about now is flour. It is essential, and wheat and rye come to mind.

Consider oil, a tangible element of blessing. I think of canola, sunflower, and olive, for example.

Salt with its dry savor enhances the flavor of the other elements.

I am so excited about baking my first bread and writing in new ways!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Write a Simple Sentence in English

One area of privilege that I had in my small town in North Carolina was a good school system, and I enjoyed writing. My teachers helped inspire and correct me.

We need to know the language we use.

We need to know about the sentence, the building block of writing. Here's a review:

The sentence must have a subject. 
A subject is a noun or a pronoun. A noun is a person, place, or thingExample: Jack (a person), New York City (a place), or team (a thing).  

The sentence must have a verb. A verb shows or tells action or state of being. 

The sentence must have closing punctuation: period, question mark, or exclamation mark that denotes the end of the sentence. 

This is "old school," but it works. To begin, we'll look at a simple sentence ending with a period, remembering, for now, that subject + verb + period = sentence. No period or other ending mark can be put at the end of a string of words unless that string has a subject and a verb. Every sentence needs an end mark, such as a period.

Simple sentence examples: 
Jack runs. (Jack runs now, in the present moment/time.)
Jack ran. (Jack ran in the past, for example, yesterday or this morning.)

None of us is ready to move forward until we can define a noun, a verb, and a sentence from memory. If you've suspected that you need grammar help, practice writing sentences no longer than 11 words. Maybe you know someone that would check your work often.

I hope that these basics of English will make a huge difference for writers that missed the basics or are just starting to write seriously.I hope that all of us will enjoy expressing ideas and interests in words, often!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Washington Post sold to "outsider," Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com

Jean Purcell

The scope of an author's audience is not as important as the author's commitment to launch out, elevate skills, and write new works regardless of small or large audiences. Yet, larger audiences indicate a measure of success, and that's mainly why I refer to news about Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, as new owner of The Washington Post. He aims to re-make The Washington Post into an economic and news-publishing success.

Jeff Bezos has made Amazon.com successful worldwide. As its entrepreneurial founder and owner, his name caught attention due to Amazon.com's innovations and success with consumers. And the success was not driven by the creator's knowledge about everything his online company was selling. It was due to his ideas, foresight, and attention to current interests and needs of consumers. In the widening world of digital access, he saw business and sales as vital parts of the new Internet scene.

Not even Amazon.com's successes could predict that their business craftsman would want to buy The Washington Post. The move shocked Post readers and staff. The first surprise was the sale outside the Meyer-Graham family. Then, early reactions about the buyer were negative: (1) Bezos is not a news professional or even a publishing guy and (2) Bezos lives in Washington state, not Washington, DC.

Some questioned what Donald Graham, the highly respected heir to The Post, was thinking when he not only sold the paper but sold it to someone outside the news business and the powerful city from which The Post reports. After all, the Eugene Meyer and Philip Graham (Meyer's son-in-law), Katharine Meyer Graham (Meyer's daughter and Philip's wife), Donald Graham (Katharine and Philip's son), and Katharine Graham Weymouth (granddaughter of Katharine Graham) families have controlled The Washington Post for four dynamic generations. Their lives centered around The Post from within the nation's capital they have known and enriched.        

Money is the assumed and reported reason for the paper's sale. Those responsible saw no other way to take The Post successfully through increasingly rough economic waters for print news. They accepted Jeff Bezos as its billionaire buyer, for $250 million. Those who know Donald Graham tend to believe that he had reason to trust the Bezos offer and its potential for their paper. 

The Post will change ownership hands officially next month, October 2013. No management or staff changes have been announced. The new chief of "the world's most respected newspaper" still will not be skilled in either journalism or editing. Mainly, Bezos will begin to build on the admiration he expresses for the paper and his business vision for its future. The Post reports that he has an "upbeat vision"* for saving The Washington Post (see online edition), whose print edition red ink keeps flowing.
The Bezos business vision, philosophy, and practices are already being sketched onto The Post. The paper's crew met for two days this week with Bezos at The Post building on 15th Street, NW. Attending the last day were Ben Bradlee, former chief editor of Watergate days and now a V.P.-at-large, and  Elizabeth (Lally) Graham Weymouth, Publisher and CEO. The Post reported on the new owner's straight-forward communication with staff and executives this week, including:   
  • "'The death knell for any enterprise is to glorify the past, no matter how good it was.'" 
  • "Put readers, not advertisers, first."
  • "Don't write to impress each other."
  • "...'Don't be boring.'"
  • He sees The Post as '"a daily ritual,' ..."as a bundle, not merely a series of individual stories."
Such comments are transferable to the business of publishers and writers across genres.  

*Source: The Washington Post, print edition, Thursday, September 5, 2013, C1, C4. For more, use Online edition report link

Jean Purcell is the author of Not All Roads Lead Home, Highland Books UK and Opine Publishing USA. Pen name Jane Bullard

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"Lonely Life" of Writing-get over that idea!

Jean Purcell

"I did it alone!" Hearty kudos and "thank you!" to you, visitor and reader of Author Support! I invite you to sign up for e-mail delivery for new posts or join this blog, if you have not already done that!

As I type this, the visit counter for Author Support moves ahead toward a speed of 10,000 visitors! Opinari Writers, another member of this blog family, moves at 20,000 VPB (Visitors Per Blog). Both are aiming to register higher VPB's in the future.

Clearly, "I did it alone!" cannot be true. I thank all of you who visit here! My love of writing and my love of giving tips to other writers, including pointing to resourcesrevs up my work! Whether you land on this site deliberately or stumble here and linger, read, or investigate...however you get here, my job is to share and build on my years of writing and print and digital publishing experience.

I tweak my blogs now and then, aiming for more attractive and attracting blogs. I started this in earnest a few months ago, and decided to focus specifically and more regularly on (1) writing new articles, (2) blog design (adding/ changing gadgets/widgets; colors, fonts, column sizes, and related factors), (3) writing craft: style and substance focus, (4) digital networking (Twitter-1 and Twitter-2, Facebook-FB, for example), and (5) paying regular, daily attention.

I do the same thing, in my own way, that you do or want to do, and I share my years of experience and attention to how and what to write and communicate. I love it! Have a blog you want to improve? You can do it by refocusing on these five elements:
  • Better writing - improved knowledge and use of the craft of writing  
  • Sharper blog design - examine blog designs you like and can adapt
  • Tighter writing focus - edit, edit, edit
  • Frequent digital networking - for friendly ideas, re-tweeting work by others, posting your links 
  • Regular new writing - draft/edit/save, draft/edit/save, draft/edit/save...and publish. 
What writers do, they often do "alone," as "in solitude," and yet...we are connecting with others all the time! We have support from many people we may never see or meet face to face. We learn from people we know and don't know who have good ideas, technical help (including creative solutions), and motivational cues.

Thinking the writing life is a lonely life? Get over it, and may your writing move forward with even tighter and more disciplined goals. Keep learning from others! I know I learn from you...what Stat Counter tells me, post by post, that you read and come back to! I am adding spiritual growth books to my  hand-picked books online store. It's growing, too. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I Help Authors: Here's How

Jean Purcell

I help writers shape their books. Some call what I do "book content development."   

I am working with the author of a nonfiction book manuscript for a highly specialized topic. The author wants his book to appeal to experienced agents, a reliable publisher, and a wide reading audience interested in his area of expertise.  

Complicated subjects with historical timelines imply different interacting components. I think of it as like a plot with many sub-plots, twists and turns, as with a novel. This manuscript requires care when forming chapter-by-chapter evaluation and overall treatment, including detailed advice for specific change recommendations. The author and I will likely communicate several times about this project. 

The book manuscript came to me in two forms: a word-processing digital file on a computer memory stick and  a printed copy (400-plus double-spaced pages) held together in a sturdy notebook. I noted right away that the table of contents (TOC) should help provide good guidance. 

After reading a few first chapters on the digital document, I realized I would work faster using the printed text pages. The number of comments I have inserted so far suggest to me that the digital process for this Work will be too time-consuming for my likes. 

I finished reading six chapters and gave the author a brief run-down, including that he was correct to tell me this Work invited repetition. Repetition is a natural ditch, easy to fall into, for any Work. He can send me, if done in time, revisions of chapters I've not yet read in the version he sent to me.  

I will finish reading through the full manuscript over the next two days, and editing or proofing will  not come into play. I am noting in memory that editing is needed, which is the norm. I'll return to that later, if the author chooses me for the next stages. 

I am watching for 
(1) clarity, 
(2) flow, 
(3) tone (writer's "voice"), 
(4) general appeal of style,  
(5) efficiency of language and structure. 

I may question facts, to clarify presentation, but am not responsible for the technical or professional areas being covered. I make marginal notes in pencil. 

Here is an overview of major parts of the process I'll use for this project:  

1. Read the full manuscript straight through, making brief marginal notes if needed (e.g., too much repetition and detected or suspected incomplete areas) and set a proposed schedule;   

2.  Focus on one chapter at a time, without comparing chapter segues, which I'll do later; 

3. Ask of every chapter, "Does this chapter fit the summary as written by the author? If not is missing or needs to change?"

4.  Make comment notes in margins with sharpened pencil with a good eraser; 

5.  Pin-point portions that need special remedy regarding content handling (e.g., too many or too few descriptions; information presentation;is there not enough information; too many examples or interest-generating examples); 

6.  Prescribe remedies with specific recommendations for the author;

7.  Stay with each chapter or section I'm focusing on, as  needed;

8.  Continue reflection/analysis/penciled marginal notes; 

9.  Pay special attention to connections/flow between each chapter and the one(s) before and after (segue); 

10. Compare chapter text with the book mission and chapter summary stated by the author;

11. Keep in mind the reading audience for the book; 

12. After all chapters have been covered, re-read entire manuscript and notes; retain,  restate, or remove margin notes, as needed;

13. Prepare a final findings-and-recommendations report for the author, to include proofreading requirements and, most important, comment on grammar or need for remedial work.  

While I assess the manuscript, I communicate about the book with the author, as needed; the author continues to rework sections or chapters and can use any interim recommendations (recommended) I may have provided; I will look at revisions and comment.    

Any author that wants to try this process, keeping objectivity in play as much as possible,  will need the proverbial skin as tough as a crocodile. That skin is also needed during later editing and proofing, to get out anything that does not move the Work forward. Cut parts can be saved for later on a blog, an article, or another book.  

If you are thinking of working with a content developer, I recommend that you interview a short list of professionals, ask about process, experience, and finished examples. 

Note: I am reading THE RACKETEER by John Grisham (fiction, 2012).
Writers read every day. I am reading, also, the last two chapters of The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Fourth of July

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.  

Since the last July the Fourth holiday, hundreds if not thousands of new laws and declarations have appeared, along with new wars and rumors of wars.    

When Americans celebrate the Fourth of July, Independence Day, we glimpse again the story of that hot summer day in 1776 at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA. We say of ourselves, "We remain a democracy" and "the strongest democracy on earth. ..."    

C. S. Lewis wrote in Screwtape Letters, in the epistle called "Screwtape Proposes a Toast," about Democracy and them--those who value the word Democracy, those among Screwtape's list of intended converts to his devilish philosophy. He is teaching one of his new disciples to use the word Democracy to "lead them by the nose": 

"It will never occur to them that Democracy is properly the name 
of a political system, even a system of voting, and that 
this has only the most remote and tenuous connection with what 
you are trying to sell them. ... You are to use the word 
purely as an incantation...for its selling power. 
... it is connected with the political ideal 
that men should be equally treated." 

Screwtape, chief among hell's fictional angels in Lewis' work, further advised on the work of converting "them":  

"As a result you can use the word Democracy to sanction in his thought 
the most degrading...of all 
human feelings*. You can get him to practise, not only 
without shame but with a positive glow of self-approval, 
conduct which, if undefended by the magic word, 
would be universally derided."

The feelings* that Lewis said that he meant were "... that which prompts a man to say I'm as good as you." 

You can read the full Screwtape Proposes a Toast in the Screwtape Letters excerpt "Lead Them by the Nose" in A Year with C. S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works reading for July 1. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Writers, can we agree that every religion seeks God?

I am on a new journey to learn more about religions otherwise foreign to me. Recognizing my limitations, I humbly make this attempt to express where I am now and to seek other writers along this pathway. 

Through different ways and histories, cultural and otherwise...religions claim to 'seek God.' This is something we share. "Seek My face," God has said in Hebrew scriptures (for example, Psalm 27:8).  

Literature is full of cultural and religious beliefs colliding due to blindness about  key  similarities. For example, in The Last Mughal (I am half-way at over 400 pages), the destruction of the Mughal dynasty in Delhi, India, 1857, is connected to belief as much as to political and power conflicts. They are inherently interwoven, and the emperor's court aimed to be tolerant of Christian presence. At least at the beginning and compelled to allow their presence.     

Followers saw their Delhi Mughal as being close to or second to 'God, the Almighty.' Yet, did this mean that the Mughal would have closed his mind against conversation about 'the Son of God'? I cannot help wondering about his reaction, if he had heard of Jesus as the Lord via a friend's discourse rather than a foreigner's conquering presence.

John 3:16* is truth without labels. It must have been familiar to British Christians occupying India in the 19th century. In that scripture, God shows that He is reaching out to everyone, regardless; and cultural and religious identities are not mentioned.  

Jesus said (John 3:16), "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him shall be saved" (italics added). God speaks in love to 'the world,' of His 'only begotten Son.' The receiving audience is the world; the subject and gift is the Son. The Son is not mentioned with cultural, traditional, religious, or national connections. The Son is 'culture-free' in God's broad scope for the world. Jesus speaks for God without judging other "belief systems," as they are called today. See John 3:17     

India, 19th century, included intellectual, literate, productive, artful, and wealthy persons and groups that, at first, accepted or allowed the presence of British military and East India Company ('the Company') workers. These were prominently allied with Christian faith. British families lived in homes designed to please them; they worshiped at churches built according to Indian or British design. Yet, British military leaders that harshly disrespected their hosts' beliefs and culture/way of life refused to consider them even as 'hosts.' An important few preferred to see them as 'the occupied,' or even 'the conquered.' Inevitably, the term 'Christian' and 'cruel conqueror' became synonymous. No wonder. The Mughal Dynasty of Delhi would be killed off cruelly by those identified with 'Christianity.'     

A Muslim friend from India gave my husband and me a copy of The Last Mughal. As Christian and American, I find the story helps to strengthen my desire to know better the beliefs of other religions. I maintain the whole and basics of Christian faith while wanting to know more about those who are neighbors or members of the wider community, in positive ways.  I will know them, I believe, as friends, at least a few. Not knowing any atheists free of argument or anger, I likely will not have dialogue there. Otherwise, the love of Christ compels this desire' to learn about how 'seeking God' has shaped others' beliefs. Seeking those loved of God strengthens my desire to seek Him continually through Christ and His ways. "God so loved the world.... I did not come to judge the world...." 

If you are writing about these themes, I would like to know about your work.

*If the Bible is new to you, there is Old Testament (Hebrew and Aramaic, originally) and New Testament (original in Greek). The books have names, e.g. 'Genesis' or 'John' and chapter and verse numbers (e.g., John 3:16; or 3.16).

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Image/book cover...from..which...love
MakeBlackOutPoetry (hereis an intriguing artist and writer, very different from our usual expectations of art, writing,or poetry. The call-name is for an artist's work on Instagram, which somehow links with Twitter. You must sign in at Instagram to post comments. 

I provide here one MakeBlackOutPoetry example, where the poet uses an existing page of text for selection of existing words to express different one brief statement or thought.  

Pondering  Are the texts photocopied pages from books, essays, other? Or, are the texts the artist's own, photocopied, reduced into one theme through  blackout, and photocopied again, then photographed? In other words, what is the process? 

This work makes me think of haiku, although it's something else. I would like to see a triptych, three text images with selected words saved, together making one new work.   

Have you ever seen this kind of "ready text" poetry graphic art before? Would you call this poetry? And does this form interest you? Will you try it? 

Twitter @makeblackoutpoetry

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New Children's Poet Laureate, Kenn Nesbitt

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I'm reminded of how much fun poetry can be by reading an interesting article this week about Kenn Nesbitt. The article appeared in Kid'sPost, which is on the back page of The Washington Post/style (print ed.-6/17/13; online version here). Nesbitt is the newly-appointed Children's Poet Laureate, a two-year honor. 
     "The Green Bird" was my first stab at poetry, age 11.  It was not funny, but I think was a bit wistful and adventurous at the same time. My second effort was much later, when I composed verse about my early childhood's front yard. There, a pond with lily pads (I'm not kidding) hosted soft tadpoles that swam with the goldfish. 
   When my mother, who enjoyed "The Green Bird," heard my later poem (full of memories of June Bugs, Lightning Bugs, jars, friends, and frogs), she commented: "It sounds like we lived in a swamp." I laughed, then frowned, then put the poem away for another day. Boo-hoo
    In my childhood, my mother gently built into me a love of words and books, along with play-construction blocks, scissors, jigsaw puzzles, coloring books, and large crayon boxes with unusual color choices like plum, fuscia, taupe, aquamarine, and teal. Of course I had no clue about color wheels, only "purple, pink, brown, and blue." 
   Much later, my young daughters' afternoon naps in summer gave me free time to memorize poetry or song verses...nothing as complicated as "Lady of Shalott." We practiced fun poems, after the naps, and funny rhyming song-stories. We laughed singing along with Allan Sherman records. The longest poem I learned and tried to lead them to sing about concerned a fox stalking the geese (or chicken house, whatever you prefer). That one took a while to learn, even a few verses. 

Now back to the most recent discovery for me...Kenn Nesbitt, who told The  Post that as a kid he enjoyed "Casey at the Bat." It's over 100 years old! A software professional as an adult, Nesbitt was with friends, including a 4-year-old that did not want to eat her dinner. He said he thought he "'could write a poem about a girl who wouldn't eat her dinner,'..." and thus came "Scrawny Tawny Skinner." It was followed by 50 plus poems for children. His one goal: "'I just want them to laugh...I'm not trying to deliver a message....I want to give them something so funny that they can't not read it.'"
     For you poets out there--and you who might write poetry one day--you might be interested in how Kenn Nesbitt's first book of poems came to be. He simply realized that he had a lot of poems and that perhaps they should get together in a book. 
     I don't know if getting published the first time was as simple as that for Nesbitt, but he found publishing doors opening after that. At age 51 with a lively expression on his photo, he appears to be young at heart. See one of his books in Jean's Easy-Shop Books,  Childhood to Teens section. If you need to pre-order or if copies are out, please let me know so I might help.  

Friday, June 7, 2013

We, the Audience-Builders

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Ken Follett's giant work The Pillars of the Earth (historical fiction) gets my attention every day now, as I plough through this complicated and fascinating story that features, among others, the character of Tom Builder. He's a master stonemason and a natural architect. Tom is poverty-stricken as to earthly goods or security and is wealthy in talent, skill, vision, and willingness to work hard. These qualities have been acquired, developed, and  built over the years, including manhood and feeding a wife and growing family in the 12th century.   
    I thought of Tom this morning when I set out to write about building an audience for a blog. Presently, this blog has a little over 8,000 readings and some much-valued followers. I want the blog to grow in interest for present and future readers. In Pillars of the Earth, Tom Builder is at early stages of restoring a ruined cathedral. That's the work he loves to do, and compared to his task, mind should look easy. Yet, it's got its own challenges. Here, I want to continue to add to the kind of support that can help authors, whether first-time book-writers or writers with one or more books already printed and released. 
     While bloggers are not building cathedrals, we are building skills, vision, and audience. As a blogger, I want to do the best I can at the time, at a particular moment and during the present month and year. Writers must keep writing. Unlike Tom, we do not have to wait for something to burn to the ground to get the attention of those who could use what we do.
     What we have to do is to give readers time to find us and, when they do, to find good quality increasingly consistent for use and enjoyment. Not all readers have equal interest in specific blog postings, or articles. Yet, we can aim to inspire any reader in some way by including what is appealing, uplifting, and interesting, whether a quote, news flash, or example. That's what we do. That's what we enjoy doing.
     Linking ways for an audience to grow and to find us more easily, we can use Twitter and Facebook and other links our readers may use, including LInkedIn, where you can also include links to articles or videos. 
     "How can I improve this blog?" We need to ask this question of our writing every day. Today, I added to the right column of this blog some information about my Twitter accounts, @OpinariPeople and @OpineBookCafe
     This is part of my vision about what you and I as writers are doing in our patch of the wide world. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

If You Write about the Terrorism in Boston

Christians writing about the April 15 terrorism in Boston would do well to remember basics of Muslim teaching. Because the identified bombers at the Boston Marathon had Muslim affiliation, the topic is relevant. Personally, I believe that most Muslims do not fully subscribe to the Muslim religion emphasis on intellect and knowledge. Yet, we know that minds can be dangerously influenced by terrorist sympathies.

Mind-knowledge-intellect is the triad of emphasis of Muslim teaching. Yet, the brain also hosts emotions. Why would any teachings pay attention to thought only, to the exclusion of feelings of compassion, hope, and moral good, for example? 
     I learned details about the intellectual basis of Islam during a meeting where a U. S.-based imam spoke about his religion. He pointed to his head and told the audience that the Koran teaches exclusive emphasis on the mind. "Mind and heart" or "mind, heart, and soul" have no assumed or direct interaction in the religion.
     The imam was very reserved during the meeting where he spoke about Muslim beliefs.  He said that only select Muslims like himself can correctly interpret the Koran. Only a few know the ancient language of the true Koran. He emphasized that fact repeatedly.
     These teachings were evident in the  imam's reaction to a question about how it felt or was difficult, after 9/11/01, when the Muslim religion was critiqued.  There was no expression on the imam's face. It appeared that he took the question as being too foolish for thought, for it dealt with feelings. He gave no verbal response at all and made no movement. He ignored the question in every way possible. I wonder today if Muslim leaders exclude feelings after the Boston marathon attacks. 
   I interacted with several Muslim women at that meeting. Most were friendly and smiling. I could not help thinking that feelings must be important to them. I felt at ease around them. They were willing to talk and to answer questions from non-Muslims. A few expressed being happy to meet non-Muslims. Most were Caucasian, adhering to strict Muslim dress.
     In Boston on this year's April 15, two young Muslim men focused their minds on  cold and heartless acts of violence. The terrorists killed and maimed innocent people, including young children. Many more would die in the hours and days ahead, because of their heartlessness. Did any Muslim teachings influence them to destroy lives by killing, maiming, and a river of suffering and loss?  Somehow, survivors will overcome; yet the cause of such suffering flows from extreme mindlessness.   

I hope that you will write about any aspects of the Boston marathon bombings that most disturb, inform, or influence you. Whether or not you are American or Christian, what does it mean to you as a human being with feelings? What does it mean to every thoughtful person to hear again of terrorist acts against innocent civilian people?   
    I feel deeply grateful to live in a country founded and built up by reasonable and peace-loving people. I am more than ever grateful for faith in Jesus Christ, who died innocent yet tormented by violent men, leaders of both political and religious powers. I am most thankful for Christ's life and His teachings of love, saving grace, and the consolations of God. "Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9). I am deeply  moved to know that freedom-loving people have strong emotions, as well as thoughts, about freedom and life. Those emotions influence strength, calm, lawful justice, and peace-loving hope for better days ahead. Such days will come.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hot Writing Topic-National Common Core Curriculum

A hot topic for writers interested in education of the young is the change that is happening in public education in the U.S. Is it for the better? Is it what you would never have imagined? Is it good? Why is the federal government training teachers to use the curriculum through meetings in Chicago>? Is the program intended to be one-size-fits-all?
       The U. S. common core curriculum is very different from individual states' core curricula. Only five states have maintained their own core curriculum programs. Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia have not accepted the national program, wanting to build stronger academic standards. 
     What I have heard and read recently about the national program has me curious and concerned. I recommend every interested writer, parent and neighbor of public school students and teachers to research the philosophy and practices of the U. S. core curriculum program, which is being used in 45 states. 
     My research, recommended by a mother of public school children, began with The Washington Post archives "The Answer Sheet"/Valerie Straus's "Eight Problems with Common Core Standards," 8/8/2012. 
    Your ideas might interest newsletters, social media groups, a local paper, national magazine, family magazines, and other venues.
     Finally, among any of those steps, I recommend the book and film: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  Follow this link to discover how, if you question the workings of the national program, you might be called an "education fringe-er."

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Easiest Thing to Do...

The easiest thing to do on a computer is to take a teeth-gritting ride. I have had so many computer problems in the last 36 hours that I am now way off track, lost in a wasteland of pop-ups and intense overnight freezing. I had to type the final draft for this blog post on a document and copy and paste it here.
     Being dizzy due to where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, and how I’m feeling right now, I do want to share with you some sign posts that might help you.
    You know the dreaded “blue screen”? That’s the only thing you see, the only destination you can reach...if your computer crashes. As a support technician told me yesterday, “You don’t want to see the blue screen!!!” The guy we pay to keep our four computers going will be unhappy with me, probably, because when the emergency tech person was so helpful I bought a $30-something package for one year, having watched her cursor on my PC screen, showing me an array of scary things—snakes, bugs, and spies in there!
     Today I ran the scan and let the software fix everything so that my risk meter went from Danger! orange to Ahhh! blue. Not sure that comfort range will last for long. I’m still waiting a long time for the pesky pages to load.
     I also discovered that one could go without water for days and days in the desert of "How do I get Explorer not to track my own page views the way it's doing today?!!" before realizing there's no one there... no support helping. 
     Then, it appeared to me that Firefox could save the day. Easy to do, switch back to Firefox when working with Google Blogger! Yay! Success!
    What else did I want to warn you about? I started off wanting to advise what is obvious: try not to get carried away on the Internet when the computer starts to slow down, whirr indefinitely, and repeatedly remind you it is sick, or at least coming down with a highly poisonous virus. Get to some civilized place where real people are certified in Windows or Mac issues. Let them help you, even if the first clean up costs a bundle...or save everything in Ethernet Clouds!  (I don't really know what I'm talkin' about, but I've heard rumors...!)
     Meanwhile, reminded of how heavily I lean on the computer and the Internet, I know I need a serious talk with myself in these computer woods. I'm sitting on a cold log, imagining green trees and blue sky with puffy clouds…memories of changing photos on my Opinari Writers blog, a companion to this one.
    I've dumped a bag of unwanted software in the trash can, glad their deals never made it onto my charge card. A new plethora of pop ups, multiplying like weeds, still bother me,  and I’m trying to cut them down too.
     Take care, writing friend. And I invite you, while I have these moments, to visit the new “Conceptualize Me!” page over at Opinari Writers. It’s about a new way to handle my book and content analysis work. Recommend it if you like what you see and read. That is, if you're up and running.  

Uh oh. Now that my PC is running faster, my blog post paragraph indents won't line up/tab correctly. Bye. I'm outa here.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

What's around the Bend in the Road?

Wild, scenic 
An open-road and clear landscape invite riding on horseback, revving the ATV,  rambling on foot...and writing ideas. What's around the bend in the road? 
Writer-reader landscapes are more like cityscapes than country roads. They crowd with changing information and writing connections, exchanging ideas, creativity, information, and building fiction.  
     Writing is a place now where modesty may remain in private but in public titles and updates must appear. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are gathering places much like small towns' community message boards. Blogs spotlight books, articles, or events.
     I have two active blogs, this one and anotherNow I feature a new Amazon aStore (fun to build) featuring books in different categories. I can add one or more other stores this way, through Amazon Associates, free.   
     Writer, is your work getting better? Do you allow it on a blog or website? Wherever you are, are you thinking about what might be around the next bend in the road you're traveling?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Author Answers for Quick Quiz of Discovery

Follow-up for "Discover Where to Focus Now"
Quick Quiz

In the post "Discover Where to Focus Now," the first section  put five options for first-book authors: Contract with an agent, hook a publishing house editor, self-publish the finished manuscript as a printed book, self-publish as an e-book, or undecided.

The right answer for you is the one you choose. It must be, for you are in charge of your book's development and its future. Each option has its pros and cons. I am sure you are doing, or have already done, extensive research before making a final decision.

The second section of the quiz of discovery was "What is your most urgent need, regardless of the above answer?" You were to choose only one:

a. Writing improvement
b. Study of proposal writing
c. Financial savvy
d. Marketing plan
e. Decision about direction of publication (the first section)
f. Specific cover design ideas

If I had faced those choices 12 years ago, I would most likely have chosen a., with the idea in mind that I needed most to keep making improvements while writing my book.

But now, I have my book in two print editions* by two different publishers. And, I have 12 solid years as an independent publisher of four other authors.

All of that adds up to my view that the first priority for the best answer is c: Financial savvy. Why? Every decision we writers make from hiring editors or proofreaders to signing contracts, and other things in between, involves financial needs, resources, knowledge, and decisions. Underestimating the power of the financial side of the writing life can wreak havoc on work, including concentration and peace of mind now and far into the future.  Of course, the other obvious possible answers are important, always.

I have faced the temptations of going into debt for writing, publishing, marketing, and  distribution costs. I had lines of credit for a while as a publisher; oh, happy day, when I was done with those contracts. I decided, and recommend to writers, not to owe money as a writer! That's a view based on what I am willing to undertake and what I can live peacefully with, regarding money and decisions. Each one of us is different, but debt can get a strong-hold over the best writers.

If you don't see yourself as someone with financial savvy, now is a good time to begin to develop it. Find out what financial points you need to be aware of and especially where contracts or agreements are involved for the answer you gave to the first question. Each "where to publish" decision has its own distinctive requirements regarding financial knowledge, awareness, needs, obstacles, and repercussions. 

How did you do on this quick quiz? Maybe you disagree with my first-priority answer. If you do, I recommend that you make sure that financial awareness and savvy are among your top priorities. 

*Not All Roads Lead Home publisher Highland Books, UK
and Not All Roads Lead Home publisher Opine Publishing, USA, both under pen name

Monday, February 18, 2013

Quick Quiz: Urgent Decisions about Book Planning

Discover Where to Focus Now
Quick Quiz 

I. Which one publishing route do you plan for your book?
Choose only one from the five options below:

a. Get an agent
b. Hook a publishing house editor
c. Self-publish as a printed book
d. Self-publish as e-book
d. Undecided for now

II. What is your most urgent need, regardless of the above answer? Choose only one, below:

a. Writing improvement
b. Study of proposal writing
c. Financial savvy
d. Marketing plan
e. Decision about direction of publication (I. above)
f. Specific cover design ideas

III. Assessment of how and why you made your choices, above

1. What was your first, quick, spontaneous guess at the right answer from a. through f., above?

2. Do you see a second possible correct answer? What is it? 

3. Clue: The correct answer is perhaps the least popular. Which do you think is the least popular or least attractive/common sense option from above list, a. - f.?   Why?

4. Info: I will write again soon, to give answers I recommend from my experience with publishing, editing, marketing, mentoring authors, and writing two editions of one book.

5. Something you might do: If you change your mind between now and when I post again on this subject, with the answers, try to follow what influenced your change of mind. 

6. Pros and Cons of Quiz options: If you have not yet studied the route you want your book to take, for successful future for it, do you know enough right now about the pros and cons of each choice you make? It may not fit what you want to focus on now. Yet, it might be the first priority on your list. (Do you have a priority list?)