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Writing Tip of the Week

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Dan Baldwin - Novels, Short Stories & Non-Fiction

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Effective Communications Tip of the Week

So, You Want to Be a Ghostwriter

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I have written more than 60 books, but five out of six have someone else’s name on the cover. Oh, I usually get some form of writer’s credit, but usually in the Acknowledgements section printed upside down in 6 pt. Mandarin Chinese. But author credit isn’t why someone pursues ghostwriting projects – unless it’s to gain credit with other authors who need ghostwriters. Ghostwriters are in the business to make money or to gain the experience that will lead to that money.  If you’re considering ghostwriting, here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.

Tip #1. You’re Not the Author’ You Only Write the Book.

Keep your ego out of the project. That goes for your desires to win the Golden Ghost Award for Best Acknowledgement, your personal opinions or cause du jour, or what you think your author really ought to say. It’s his (or her) book. Keep it that way.

Tip #2. KISS Your Author.

Keep It Simple, Stupid. Most books are written at the eighth grade level. Why? Because just about everybody in America has at least graduated from the eighth grade. Everybody gets the message (or at least can read the message) when you write at that level.

Tip #3. Make Sure the Price is Right.

What is the right price for a ghostwriting project? I’ll answer with another question.

How hungry are you?

The amount of writing, research, client hand-holding, and expenses will vary from project to project. Get a handle on as much of this as possible before quoting a price. Know how much you need to earn from a given job and start at a figure above that. Life as a ghostwriting is a life of negotiating. Have a rate or a fee in mind, but don’t hesitate to adjust according to the level of rumbling in your stomach.

Tip #3a. If you hear the phrase, “I’m pretty famous for my memos around here, heh-heh,” – double your fee.

Tip #4. Your Client Must Know He is Part of the Project

I had a potential client tell me, “Just go to the Internet and you can get everything you need.” My response was, “Well, then what do I need you for?” Fortunately, the potential client was a friend who took my response in the right frame of mind. The writer carries the heavier burden in terms of work, but the project must be a cooperative effort. It’s his book; he has to earn that name on the cover.

Tip #5. You Don’t Have to Believe What Your Client Believes.

But know where you have to draw the line. Provided you remember that you are the writer not the author, a Republican can ghostwrite for a Democrat. A Christian can write for a non-believer. A “My Country Right or Wrong” guy can ghostwrite for a “Peace at Any Price” guy. When you take on a ghostwriting project, you are hiring out. Once you accept the job, you can be loyal to your client without being loyal to his cause.

Tip #6. Understand that at Some Point Things are Going to Go South

Something inevitably comes up to extend the agreed on deadline, foul the research efforts, or get between you and that final payment. Provided the client doesn’t abuse the privilege, put up with as much as you can, finish the job, and earn something worth its weight in gold – a good referral. I have on rare occasions walked away from a job, but I did so in a way that maintained a level of respect, courtesy, and integrity. I have also finished and been fully paid by clients I will never work with again. One of your best ghostwriting resources is a mental file labeled I Will Never Do THAT Again.

Tip #7. Clients Should Pay as They Go.

As Dr. Laura said about promises of marriage made in the steamy back seat of a sedan on a lonely road, “Unless you have a ring and a date, you don’t have squat.” I think I got that quote fairly right – certainly the meaning. Your client must be invested in the project or it’s not in his mind a real project. Invest is the key word. Get an upfront payment and then stagger payments on a pay-as-we-go basis.

So, you want to be a ghostwriter. Go for it. Just follow a few basic business rules so that the experience isn’t a scary one.

(For a bit more on ghostwriting, check out www.danbaldwin.biz.)

Quote of the Week:  “Most men make little use of their speech than to give evidence against their own understanding.” George Savile

Recommended Reading: The Ruin of the Roman Empire by James J.O’Donnell

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

https://beelieveparanormal.wordpress.com/about

Shameless Self Promotion

   My Western novel, Bock’s Canyon, is a Winner in the Best Book Awards 2017. My latest Western novel A Stalking Death is a Finalist in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards competition; my non-fiction work for writers and IP attorneys, How Find Me Lost Me – A Breach of Trust Told By The Psychic Who Didn’t See It Coming, earned a Finalist award in the Best Book Awards and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards competition. My short stories Diddy and Lurlene Hurlbutt’s Flatline earned the Commendation award in the Society of Southwestern Authors Writing Contest.

 

How Find Me Lost Me – A Betrayal of Trust Told By The Psychic Who Didn’t See It Coming

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2017

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

The Challenge of Coincidence

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   The writer must be extremely careful when employing coincidence in his work. Like a bad shell in the old .45, it can misfire or even backfire on you and do tremendous damage to whateverthehell it is that you are writing. Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary and upper body weight-lifting tool defines coincidence as, “an accidental and remarkable occurrence of events, ideas, etc. at the same time in a way that sometimes suggests a causal relationship….” Perhaps the biggest abuse of coincidence is the “and then she woke up” ending of a story. In the hands of a master, this technique can work. Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce and the short film by Robert Enrico show the power of the technique.

   But few of us are Ambrose Bierce.

   The ‘and then woke up” is a copout and an insult to the reader. One of the writer’s main tasks is to build and build and build toward a satisfying payoff for the audience. The reader’s frustration at such endings is beautifully stated by the character Lionel Twain in Neil Simon’s hilarious mystery writers send up Murder by Death.

“You've tricked and fooled your readers for years. You've tortured us with surprise endings that made no sense. You've introduced characters at the end that weren't in the book before! You've withheld clues and information that made it impossible for us to guess who did.”

   The technique of suddenly introducing a pat ending is called Deus ex machina, which means “God in the machine.” Back in Plato’s days writers who wrote their characters into an ending that was impossible to escape would lower an actor onto the stage, an actor portraying one of the gods who would then sort out the mess on stage below. Plato didn’t much care for that style of writing and readers today don’t think much if it either. When the cavalry patrol shows up out of nowhere to save the settlers, when the Tyrannosaurus suddenly blunders into the building to save the kids from the Raptors, or when the flood or storm or forest fire brings the estranged lovers together at the last moment, the reader sighs, utters a few curse words, and wishes he’d bought the Ambrose Bierce book instead.

   If you’ve written your characters into a corner in which the only exit is Deus ex machina, you have only written yourself into a literary failure.

   I’m not saying to avoid using coincidence – not at all. But, I recommend using it early on and only to set up later and more powerful events. When prospector Cable Hogue is abandoned in the desert and eventually stumbles into a waterhole, that’s coincidence. But that event sets up the entire sequence of events that makes Sam Peckinpah’s The Ballad of Cable Hogue such an entertaining and moving film. Robert McKee in Story recommends limiting coincidental events to the first half of the story, novel or screenplay. That’s sound advice because the more a writer lowers the god down onto his stage, the more he lowers his credibility with his reader. And that’s a lowdown shame.

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Quote of the Week: “Unkind remarks are like bullets. Once fired, being sorry don’t stop the damage.” Tom Keene from the movie The Sundown Trail

Recommended Reading: Novelist’s Essential Guide to Creating Plot by J. Madison Davis

Recommended Sites:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

Shameless Self Promotion

 

Check out the new video on the award winning They Are Not Yet Lost:

https://youtu.be/B64beS8s-Dw

 

Y gwir erbyn y Byd

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

The Challenge of Coincidence

#

   The writer must be extremely careful when employing coincidence in his work. Like a bad shell in the old .45, it can misfire or even backfire on you and do tremendous damage to whateverthehell it is that you are writing. Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary and upper body weight-lifting tool defines coincidence as, “an accidental and remarkable occurrence of events, ideas, etc. at the same time in a way that sometimes suggests a causal relationship….” Perhaps the biggest abuse of coincidence is the “and then she woke up” ending of a story. In the hands of a master, this technique can work. Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce and the short film by Robert Enrico show the power of the technique.

   But few of us are Ambrose Bierce.

   The ‘and then woke up” is a copout and an insult to the reader. One of the writer’s main tasks is to build and build and build toward a satisfying payoff for the audience. The reader’s frustration at such endings is beautifully stated by the character Lionel Twain in Neil Simon’s hilarious mystery writers send up Murder by Death.

“You've tricked and fooled your readers for years. You've tortured us with surprise endings that made no sense. You've introduced characters at the end that weren't in the book before! You've withheld clues and information that made it impossible for us to guess who did.”

   The technique of suddenly introducing a pat ending is called Deus ex machina, which means “God in the machine.” Back in Plato’s days writers who wrote their characters into an ending that was impossible to escape would lower an actor onto the stage, an actor portraying one of the gods who would then sort out the mess on stage below. Plato didn’t much care for that style of writing and readers today don’t think much if it either. When the cavalry patrol shows up out of nowhere to save the settlers, when the Tyrannosaurus suddenly blunders into the building to save the kids from the Raptors, or when the flood or storm or forest fire brings the estranged lovers together at the last moment, the reader sighs, utters a few curse words, and wishes he’d bought the Ambrose Bierce book instead.

   If you’ve written your characters into a corner in which the only exit is Deus ex machina, you have only written yourself into a literary failure.

   I’m not saying to avoid using coincidence – not at all. But, I recommend using it early on and only to set up later and more powerful events. When prospector Cable Hogue is abandoned in the desert and eventually stumbles into a waterhole, that’s coincidence. But that event sets up the entire sequence of events that makes Sam Peckinpah’s The Ballad of Cable Hogue such an entertaining and moving film. Robert McKee in Story recommends limiting coincidental events to the first half of the story, novel or screenplay. That’s sound advice because the more a writer lowers the god down onto his stage, the more he lowers his credibility with his reader. And that’s a lowdown shame.

#

Quote of the Week: “Unkind remarks are like bullets. Once fired, being sorry don’t stop the damage.” Tom Keene from the movie The Sundown Trail

Recommended Reading: Novelist’s Essential Guide to Creating Plot by J. Madison Davis

Recommended Sites:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

Shameless Self Promotion

 

Check out the new video on the award winning They Are Not Yet Lost:

https://youtu.be/B64beS8s-Dw

 

Y gwir erbyn y Byd

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Keeping Dialog Clean

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   Fiction writers deal with dialog every day. Business writers sometimes find themselves faced with the challenge of writing dialog, especially those involved in corporate film/video/DVD production or presentations involving multiple speakers. I endured an example of the latter at a sales convention in New Orleans. Two soap product marketers spoke at the podium as if engaging in legitimate conversation. The fact that they were reading from note cards proved the lie to that attempt – as did the so-called dialog. Here’s an example.

FRED: Say, Rick, I guess you know that new improved Sudsy is now on the market.

RICK: Sudsy is new and improved?

FRED: Yes, Rick, new Sudsy is and improved.

RICK: And now on the market?

FRED: Yes, Rick, new and improved Sudsy is now on the market.

RICK: That is great, Fred. Is it a secret?

FRED: (laughs) Ha ha, Rick. Not if we tell these folks in the audience about it.

RICK: Audience!

FRED: Yes, Rick, audience. Right there. Ha ha.

RICK: Well, then, Fred, why don’t we tell them all about new improved Sudsy.

FRED: Say, Rick, that is a good idea. Let’s do tell them about new improved Sudsy.

   If you think I’m exaggerating to make a point, you should make a point to attend a sales seminar in your area to see for yourself why the spirits of Shakespeare and Paddy Chayefsky weep for our generation.

   I’m sure the advertising agency or PR firm copywriter was quite proud of his drivel and reflects fondly on that and other scripts even as he enjoys a life of well-deserved obscurity. The writer forgot to employ a few basic rules of dialog, rules that could have elevated his work above the scrapheap of misery it now inhabits. Nothing can ruin a bit of writing, fiction or non-fiction, like bad dialog. Here are a few suggestions to help your dialog snap, crackle and pop rather than fizzle, drizzle and plop.

   Read what you have written aloud. There’s no better way to discover those I-can’t-believe-I-wrote-that-crap efforts than verbalizing your own work.

   Each character must be unique. A reader (viewer/listener) should be able to identify who said what just by the character’s voice. You shouldn’t have to “Say, Rick” or “That’s right, Fred” your way through a work.

   What you leave out is as important as what you put in. Dialog must sound authentic, but it cannot be authentic because people ramble, get off topic, mumble, meander and mince words. If the words don’t advance the story, excise – excise with extreme prejudice.

   Snoop. Wherever you go you will hear people chattering away. That chatter is a gold mine of dialog opportunity. Listen and learn. Then apply the lesson.

   Use dialect sparingly. Dialect wears thin on a reader very quickly. You can introduce the character with a bit of dialect to set the literary stage, but after that it’s safe to use standard English with the occasional dialect bit tossed in. Once you’ve established the character, trust your reader to make the connection.

   Dialog should be interesting for the reader and fun for the writer. Follow the simple and basic guidelines and every literary effort from now on will be, like Sudsy, always new and improved.

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Quote of the Week: “Dumbo got airorne with the help of a magic feather: you may feel the urge to grasp a passive verb or one of those nasty adverbs for the same reason. Just remember before you do that Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him.” Stephen King.

Recommended Reading: JFK: The Book of the Film by Oliver Stone and Zachary Sklar

Recommended Sites:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

Shameless Self Promotion

https://www.amazon.com/Sparky-King-Dan-Baldwin-ebook/dp/B00PA4J4UI

 

Y gwir erbyn y Byd

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Writing Upside Down

   The best way to convey information in non-fiction writing is writing upside down, or as it is known in the world of journalism, the inverted pyramid. In this style the most important information is presented first with the supporting material following.

Abuses of this basic rule aren’t limited to journalism students on a “dig me! I’m a writer!” story, article or feature. Professionals who should know better often fall prey to the trap of attempting to be creative rather ant informative. For example, I need only refer to a recent national writer’s trade journal cover story on a certain writing style. (I omit the journal, the author and the topic intentionally.)

   Paragraph number describes a pastoral scene. It’s a pleasant description, but there’s nothing in it about the subject – not a good hook to my mind.

   Paragraph two is a single-sentence suggesting the field is an unnamed literary style.

   Paragraph three continues with a description of the meadow, noting that certain plants represent certain literary styles.

   Paragraph four continues with a description of the beauties of the field.

   Paragraph five describes the field again.

   Paragraph six – at last – gets to the subject.

   Perhaps the reader was enticed enough to wade through five paragraphs to get to the beginning of the subject of the article. But I suspect many suffered from literary allergies in that field and sought relief in other pages.

   The inverted pyramid style would have eliminated that wheezing-sneezing-headache-can’t-get-to-sleep-I’m-outta-here page turning.

   Perhaps the problem for some writers is that the inverted pyramid begins with the conclusion. It’s a natural tendency to want to build your case before stating the conclusion. That’s fine in court, but not in non-fiction trade journal articles. There are a number of advantages to the inverted pyramid.

   One – the reader knows immediately whether or not the article is of interest. He can keep reading or flip to the next article. (As opposed to flipping the bird when six paragraphs in he realizes the article isn’t what he thought.)

   Two – Even if the reader is interrupted and stops reading, the writer’s main point has already been made.

   Three – In the age of the Internet, this is the preferred method of sharing information. Attention spans are short and the writer has to hit hard and fast if he is to score. That’s the upside of writing upside down.

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Quote of the Week: “Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun.” Pablo Picasso

Recommended Reading: The Yankee Comandante – The Untold Story of Courage, Passion, and One American’s Fight to Liberate Cuba by Michael Sallah and Mitch Weis

Recommended Sites:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

Shameless Self Promotion

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=dan+baldwin

 

Y gwir erbyn y Byd

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Just Do the Work to Discover What Comes Next

I used to be terrified of beginning a major writing project – not because I lack talent or resolve, but because I didn’t know the answer to one of a writer’s most intimidating questions.

“What comes next?”

That’s why I was so committed to outlining early in my career; I had to know what was coming next so that I could write what’s coming next.

What an act of self-denial.

By plotting, planning and scheming the next paragraph, page, and chapter I robbed myself of the joy of discovery. All that planning also robbed my reader of that same adventure. If I could figure out what comes next, so could my reader. As Bradbury said, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.”

Today, I admit that I experience a certain feeling of intimidation before writing a new project. That negative feeling disappears the second I punch in “The” or  “A” or “Once upon a time.”

Something almost mystical happens as that first word slams down. The subconscious mind kicks into high gear and says, “Hang on. We’re going for a ride.”

Writers write. Many who claim to be writers are actually plotters or seminar attendees or are people who someday their way through life. Writers are professionals. They know that the secret to success is simple and challenging. Sit down. Pick up a pen or turn on the computer. And start plugging away. The Universe responds. Ideas, words, inspiration appear flashing like lightning through your subconscious to your fingers and out to your reader’s open and accepting mind.

What comes next then is the joy of discovery.

What a ride!

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Quote of the Week: “People do not wish to appear foolish; to avoid the appearance of foolishness, they were willing actually to remain fools.” Alice Walker

Recommended Reading: Chasing the Demon – A Secret History of the Quest of the Sound Barrier, and the Band of American Aces Who Conquered It by Dan Hampton

Recommended Sites:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

Shameless Self Promotion

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=dan+baldwin

 

Y gwir erbyn y Byd

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Comedy Writing Setups

Overheard at a recent meeting of a famous organization:

“Hello, my name is Barney, and I’m an alcoholic.”

“Sir, this is a Girl Scout meeting.”

“Is it? Or is it that you girls can’t admit that you have a problem?”

One of the most effective ways to make a point is to use humor and one of the most effective humor devices is to take a common occurrence and give it a twist. These life events are called setups because they set up the audience for one thing while allowing the writer to apply the twist to get the laugh. Here are the most commonly used setups (with a few examples to emphasize the points).

  1. Family aggression

  2. Workplace aggression

  3. Mistaken assumptions

  4. Intrusions

  5. Heartbreak

  6. Moral/ethical conflicts

  7. Sympathy for the disadvantaged

  8. Physical mishaps

  9. Something of Value

  10. Failure to cope

The subjects aren’t particularly funny and in some cases they border on the tragic. But that’s all meat for the writer’s grinder.

Take for example number two – workplace aggression.

“Oh, you say you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called everybody, and they meet at the bar.”

Writers from before The Honeymooners to those who will follow Young Sheldon know that family aggression is a vast source of humor just waiting to be mined.

Mom: These breadsticks are old.

Dad: Well, you are what you eat.

Mom: Junior, give your father his helping of Miserable Bastard stew.

On the surface heartbreak doesn’t sound like a rich source of material, but in the right and twisted hands it’s a goldmine for the writer.

“I get the feeling when lesbians are looking at me, they’re thinking: ‘That’s why I’m not heterosexual.”

The disadvantaged no longer get a free pass when it comes to humor.

Man: Lady, don’t take this wrong, but you’re crazy.

BAG LADY: You sound just like the toaster!

Mistaken assumptions are automatically twisted, so it’s pretty easy for a twisted writer to come up with funny material. Take, for example, this bit from Southpark.

STAN: You guys, I’m getting that John Elway football helmet for Christmas.

CARTMAN: How do you know?

STAN: ‘Cause I looked in my parents’ closet last night.

CARTMAN: Yeah, well I sneaked around my mum’s closet too and saw what I’m getting. The Ultravibe Pleasure 2000.

STAN: What’s that?

CARTMAN: I don’t know, but it sounds pretty sweet.

The bottom line: sources of humor surround us. Life is a dance. Your job as a writer is to get out on the floor and do The Twist.

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Quote of the Week: “There is no credit to being a comedian, when you have the whole Government working for you. All you have to do is report the facts. I don’t even have to exaggerate.” Will Rogers

Recommended Reading: The Dimwits Dictionary by Robert Fiske

Recommended Sites:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

Shameless Self Promotion

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=dan+baldwin

 

Y gwir erbyn y Byd

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 


All Novels and Short Story Collections Available in Ebook and Paperback from Amazon, B&N, D2D, and Other Major Distributors

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Proof Reading and the Lack Thereof

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We Temporarily Interrupt this Bloggette to Announce:

Speaking with Spirits of the Old Southwest is a Finalist in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards Competition.

http://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738756745

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/speaking-with-the-spirits-of-the-old-southwest-dan-baldwin/1127149230

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We Now Return You to Our Regularly Scheduled Whatchamacallit

The Proof is in the Reading

As my first-readers and my editor know, I am not the best proofreader in the world. It’s as frightening as it is comforting to know that others share this challenge. For example, there is the  writer who penned, “The next time I send a fool to get something, I’ll get it myself.” As a warning as to what can happen, here are a few real-world examples of words and phrases that escaped capture and turned on their authors.

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The sailor was admired by his piers.

Our produce is low in fat – and good for your waste, too.

Not responsible for tiepografical erros.

Being unique is a special quality found in everyone.

If they ever take the emotion out of football, the stadiums will be full of no-shows.

This is the best film David Niven was in before he died.

Don’t lay the bricks so close apart. Put them farther together.

The problem of preserving chastity is as old as the human race.

We cannot fail to succeed.

We will be playing some pieces composed by Miles Davis prior to his death.

Thank God I’m still an atheist.

The way my boy burns up tires, you’d think that rubber grows on trees.

The Harvard doctors were not sure why saccharin makes rats sick but not humans, but they speculated the reason may simply be that rats are different from people.

The topic for tonight’s discussion is how to survive murder.

To Our Patrons – This week, the Saturday matinee will be held Tuesday instead of Thursday.

“The Invisible Man” is a must-see.

Men recommend more clubs for wives.

Stiff opposition expected to casketless funeral plan.

Carribean islands drift to left.

Queen Mary Having Bottom Scraped.

If I had been instilled in the right principles of birth control, I would not now be the mother of an unwed baby.

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   Proofreading is a much neglected and often regretted duty. Writers are advised to exercise some mirth control and seek professional help before giving birth to unintended chuckles.

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Quote of the Week: “A man has to be Joe McCarthy to be called ruthless. All a woman has to do is put you on hold.” Marlo Thomas

Recommended Reading: The Indie Author Mindset by Adam Croft

Recommended Sites:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=dan+baldwin

 

Y gwir erbyn y Byd

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Random Thoughts on Writing into the Dark

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And Now Something Completely Different

Speaking with Spirits of the Old Southwest is a Finalist in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards Competition.

http://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738756745

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/speaking-with-the-spirits-of-the-old-southwest-dan-baldwin/1127149230

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We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Bloggette.

Random Thoughts on Writing into the Dark

   Writing into the dark isn’t a formula for knocking out the next zombie, dystopian, monster, killer with a knife in the closet, or haunted house novel. Simply stated, it’s writing without an outline. That’s no real challenge for short story writers, but when faced with crafting an 85,000 word novel, many writers think an outline is essential. That’s only true if you actually need one.

   Do you?

   I’ve written novels using both methods and currently I am a passionate advocate of writing into the dark. For example, I was flicking through the channels one evening when I paused on an old Vincent Price horror film. His character said, “I was so angry this morning that I threw a cabbage at a cat!” Instantly I recognized that statement as a perfect first line in a novel. The next day I typed out that line and began writing – no outline, no characters, no setting, no genre – nothing. I didn’t even have the three key elements of a beginning as taught by my friend Harvey Stanbrough – character, setting, and a problem.

   Trusting in the WITD process, I just followed that first sentence with another, knowing that those elements would develop. By the end of the first page the story was, like that cat, off and running. The opening evolved naturally. My hero was a cowhand looking for work who had paid a small sum to a Hispanic couple to spend the night. The cabbage was out in the open, so the room didn’t have a refrigerator – no electricity. This placed the story in the past. When he threw the cabbage at the cat he slipped and fell, knocking a jar of honey on the floor. The portly lady of the house arrived to investigate the commotion and promptly slipped on the honey, landing on the cowhand. The husband arrives to see his wife and the stranger covered with honey and rolling on the floor.  He goes for his shotgun; my hero goes for the door – character, setting and problem.

   The book is A Stalking Death and it earned a Finalist award from the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards competition.

   Why do I write into the dark?

   I enjoy the mystery. As many WITD practitioners have said, “No surprise for the writer; no surprise for the reader.” The process is intimidating – walking the high-wire without a net – until you write down that first word. Then the process kicks in and the words, characters, plots and plot twists evolve naturally. I enjoy wondering (with the eventual reader) what the hell is going to happen next.

   I enjoy entertaining myself. I’m a reader, always have been, always will be. I don’t write dystopian *zombie horror or romance because I don’t enjoy reading those genres. My goal is for others to enjoy the work, but if the sales reflect some other outcome, that’s okay. At least there’s one satisfied reader who enjoyed the book.

   I enjoy the freedom. WITD frees the writer from the pre-conceived dictates of word count. A story doesn’t have to be 85,000 or 100,000 or 120,000 words. It can be precisely the word count needed to tell the story. The writer has the luxury of creating a work that is, in the words of Goldilocks, just right.

   I enjoy the fun. I don’t buy into the myth that writing has to be a struggle. For me, it’s play. Every day that I go to work I get to make up stuff, to play with my imaginary friends, and to create new worlds for people to enjoy. In the words of my mom, “Wheeeeeeeeeeee!”

   Bottom Line: There’s no right way or wrong way when the outline-or-not-to-outline choice arrives. Each technique works. I recommend that you experiment with each one and see which is the best fit for your personality and writing style. Whatever works for you – works for you.

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Quote of the Week: “Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” St. Francis of Assisi

Recommended Reading: Writing into the Dark by Dean Wesley Smith

Recommended Sites:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=dan+baldwin

 

Y gwir erbyn y Byd

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

*Uh… I am writing a novella entitled Decker Dean and the Zombie Cheerleaders from Big Mamou, but that’s a spoof and not one of those flesh-dripping novels that have taken over the book racks.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Random Thoughts on Outlining

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And Now Something Completely Different

Shameless Self Promotion

Speaking with Spirits of the Old Southwest is a Finalist in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards Competiton.

http://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738756745

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/speaking-with-the-spirits-of-the-old-southwest-dan-baldwin/1127149230

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We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Bloggette

Random Thoughts on Outlining

   Some authors outline their work. Others do not. Currently I do not use an outline in creating my works. I’m enjoying a technique called “writing into the dark.” As Bradbury and Sturgeon put it, “No surprise for the writer – no surprise for the reader.” I’m not against outlining. It works for some authors and in many cases it’s an essential step. Here then are a few comments from someone who has written using both techniques.

 

   The first step in outlining should be to put down in a single sentence what the work should be about. If your book could only be a single sentence, what would that sentence be? That statement is the spine of your work and it will affect (or should affect) every step forward. Some writers suggest developing the theme in a number of paragraphs so that the point is clear in your mind. To my mind, if you have to use several paragraphs to explain the theme, you do not yet have a theme. In those famous “25 Words or Less,” what are you trying to say?

 

   Many authors develop character sketches before outlining. These are short biographies of principle characters, which may include physical descriptions, fears and phobias, likes and dislikes, motivations, character shaping events and people and so on. Some of these biographies are quite lengthy and are essentially short stories. A lot of the details in your character sketch will never be used in the book. Truly, much of it shouldn’t be used, but the information does shape how your character acts and reacts and therefore has real value. My preference is to let the characters define their own nature. I let them develop as the work progresses. To me they are more real if they evolve with the story rather than being created complete before the work begins. I’ll cycle back to clean up any contradictions or holes in character or plot after the first draft is complete.

 

   How long is long enough? The answer is “whatever it takes.” When I outlined I put the main events in a few words on a three-by-five card (later a single paragraph on the computer). Other writers outline in great length. I think there is considerable danger in creating an extraordinarily long outline. At some point it’s inevitable that the outline will come to dominate the process. It’s like the egomaniacal student from the film The Paper Chase who came to believe his class notes were superior to the text they were studying. The process you use to write is important, but beware falling into the trap of letting the process ruin the product.

 

    A related trap is to become married to the outline. When I used the technique, I would often find my characters taking me far, far away from that carefully drawn out literary map I was using. To me, that’s okay. If you get a better idea, use it. If the idea doesn’t pan out you can always return to the outline. If you stick to the outline religiously just because it’s the outline, you could deny yourself and your readers a fascinating journey.

 

   Bottom Line: There’s no right way or wrong way when the to outline or not to outline choice arrives. Each technique works. I recommend that you experiment with each one and see which is the best fit for your personality and writing style. Whatever works for you – works for you.

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Quote of the Week: “Intelligence is not to make no mistakes, but quickly to see how to make them good.” Bertolt Brecht

Recommended Reading: Sam Phillips – The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll by Peter Guralnick

Recommended Sites:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=dan+baldwin

 

Y gwir erbyn y Byd

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

Write What You Know.

(And You Know More than You Think)

Writers are told to “write what you know.” But what if you think your genre makes it impossible to know?  Take heart; you know far more than you think.

You’re writing a Western, but you’ve never been in a confrontation in an 1870s saloon. If you’re writing a steamy romance about Scotland in the 1700s, how do you know how the duel in the Highlands went? Let’s say you’re writing science fiction. How the heck do you describe the bar fight between the Slugorthian and the Muggflanger down in the LSD bar?

Obviously, none of us know the ins and outs of confrontations in faraway places with strange sounding names. (Have you ever met a Slugorthian on LSD?) So how do we get around that literary blockade?

Transplant the information you have stored up in your life experience into your scene. For example, you’ve never been in a dangerous confrontation in the Crystal Palace Saloon in old Tombstone. But you have been to a board meeting. You have certainly been to a committee meeting. You’ve seen conflict in the club locker room, the Friday night card game, the break room at work, the golf course, the supermarket and any number of other places.

Use that experience to fuel the scene in your book, short story, screenplay or Internet post.

For example, think back to that committee meeting. The pushy chairman with his own agenda becomes the greedy cattle baron determined to take over the town. The yes men on the committee are his hired guns. That quiet guy from accounting becomes the alcoholic doctor trying to find some dignity before cashing in his chips. The attractive woman across the table is the school marm hoping to civilize an uncivilized town. Or, she could be the soiled dove with the heart of gold. The others members are the defenseless towns folk fearful and in need of a hero.  You, well, of course, you’re John Wayne.

Take the events and conflict of that meeting or confrontation, transpose them to your work, expand and exaggerate where appropriate. “I call this meeting to order” becomes “All right, you bunch of sodbusters, this is how it’s gonna be.” You’ll be surprised at how accurate your scene becomes – because it’s real. It’s based on genuine human emotion and interaction. Readers will respond because your words reach them with the common language of emotion regardless of whether it’s spoken in cowboy drawl, Scottish brogue or Slugorthian syntax.

Plug in the details as needed. For example, the greedy cattle baron’s number one gunslinger no longer carries “a big gun.” He carries “a Colt Walker, a heavy weapon, but a comfortable fit in the big hands of Bad Bob.” Details are important. But you can dig up the details you need in books, online, in interviews, and through personal research.

The key to successful writing, however, is the true human emotion you put into your work.

But you already know that, don’t you.

 

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

The Chicken or the Egg?

   Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? That’s a question for people who need an excusefor not writing to ponder. But there’s a related question worth consideration. Which comes first, the writing or the inspiration?

   Here’s my two cents. If you wait for inspiration, the writing will never come. My focus during my daily writing is to write something.  I don’t hesitate. I just get in there and mix it up. Thinking about writing only gets in the way of the process. And it’s the process that is the key to success.

   Confession time. I am incredibly intimidated about starting a new short story, novella or novel. Fear is the writer’s constant companion. You can’t shake it off. You have to deal with it. The only effective way to deal with it is to focus on technique. Write a noun. Add a verb.  Mix up a subject and a predicate and see what happens. The second I type the first word of my new project all that intimidation fades away into nothingness. I’m in the process and all fears are wiped out. The end result may be good or bad or just okay, but there will be an end. Instead of worrying about the writing and getting nowhere, the writing gets done.

   Want your writing to be inspired?

   Then stop worrying about it and just start writing.

   The inspiration you seek is in the process. It’s just waiting to be…uh, hatched.

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Quote of the Week: “He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Recommended Reading: Curious Customs – The Stories Behind 296 Popular American Rituals by Tad Tuleja

Recommended Viewing: The Ernie Kovacs Collection from The Shout Factory

Recommended Sites:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

Shameless Self Promotion

 

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=dan+baldwin

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

FMLOST.jpg

 

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

The Essential Role of Imperfection

   I read of a New York writer who had an absolute rule of rewriting his work 24 times before sending it out for publication. His comment got me thinking and my first thought was “Why?”

What’s the magic of 24 rewrites? If every work requires exactly 24 complete revisions something else is going on here. And it’s not writing. Seriously, how much better is draft 24 than draft 23 or draft 17 or draft 12? Surely at some point the writer hit the point of diminishing returns. Perhaps he has a fear of completion or a fear of success. Maybe some creative writing teacher or misguided mentor told him that he must “suffer for your art.” I can think of few things involving more suffering than rewriting something more than twenty times.

   Stephen Hawking wrote, “One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist…. Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.”

   Who am I to struggle against the laws of the universe?  The way I see it, all that time the New York writer spent on drafts four through 24 would have been better invested in working on new projects.

   Consider this: perfection is unattainable. Nobody gets it 100 percent right. Automatically you have to accept the fact – an absolute fact – that your work will be imperfect. It’s a matter of personal choice, but at that point you have to decide what level of imperfection you will accept. Is it worth the effort to invest months, a year or years to move a work from 95 percent to 98 percent?

   For those of us earning a living by writing there is also the odds factor. The public is fickle and arbitrary and no one knows what book will take off like a rocket or flop like a cow paddy out in the north forty. It’s just basic math that you have significantly better odds at a success if you have four books out rather than one. It’s a numbers game and the numbers favor imperfection.

   My works go through three drafts. The first is a rough draft. I just bang out the story or novel. The second draft is the crafting draft. I do this only to editorial direction. If my editor doesn’t screech about something, I leave it alone. The only “fixing” I do is to cover plot holes. For example, if the gunslinger villain Slade-duh is shot by a derringer hidden up Humble Sodbuster’s sleeve in chapter 20, I cycle back to make sure the reader knows about that little gun in a previous chapter. The third draft, if it comes to that, is basically a final grammar/spelling check. Then the work goes to publishing and I move on to the next project.

   Again, my personal opinion, but I prefer to invest my time writing four books a year that are pretty damn good rather than spending that year trying to perfect a single something that can never be perfect. As with your financial future, when it’s decision time with your writing you can either invest or you can spend. Your call.

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Quote of the Week: “Life is not always perfect. Like a road, it has many bends, ups and down, but that’s its beauty.” Amit Ray
Recommended Reading: Red Hot Internet Publicity by Penny C. Sansevieri

Recommended Viewing: The Hollow Crown (Shakespeare’s Richard II through Henry V)

Recommended Sites:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

Shameless Self Promotion

 

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=dan+baldwin

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

A Blueprint for Writing the Novel or the Screenplay

(with a surprise ending from Yoors Trooly)

Many authors and writing instructors write about blueprinting their work and the formula generally breaks down into nine steps: Back Story, Inciting Incident, Point of No Return, Pinch Point #1, Midpoint, Pinch Point #2, Black Moment, Climax, Resolution. Here’s how that worked out in my Western novel A Stalking Death.

Back story – This is everything leading up to where your novel or screenplay begins, which leads me to borrow some advice from Tony Soprano about backstory. Fuggeddaboudit. If you’ve written a backstory, throw it out. Begin at the beginning. In A Stalking Death any necessary backstory elements – and there were plenty – were revealed slowly and carefully throughout the work and in bits and pieces of dialog, description and character action.

Inciting Incident – My friend Harvey Stanbrough says a story should begin with three elements: a character, a setting and a problem. My hero’s problem in the first page of the novel was to escape the misdirected ire of a jealous husband. The unfortunate event leads the hero, Grey, to “get the hell out of Dodge” or in this case get the hell out of 19th century Tucson.

Point of No Return – Desperately needing work, Grey hires on at a ranch in the southern Superstition Mountains owned by a woman named Belle. This action sets up all the action that follows. Events are inevitable from this moment on.

Pinch point #1 – A pinch point is a moment that holds together (pinches) the plot elements during what could be a sagging early-middle section of the piece. It’s a jump-starting action. In my case Belle is kidnapped by an insane rancher, Davis, who thinks she is his long-dead wife. Grey heads out to rescue her.

Midpoint – A major change is needed at the midpoint of the work. This keeps the plot and the characters moving along. The unexpected change keeps the reader intrigued. In A Stalking Death Grey is kidnapped by the Black Legion, a fearful group of soldiers of fortune dedicated to protecting a mysterious treasure in the Superstitions.

Pinch Point #2 – One of Davis’s hands, a black woman cook, is nearly killed by an Apache war party. She escapes and when rescued provides a clue to the location of Belle.

Black Moment – Grey leaves the legion and rescues Belle. When they stop to rest at the cabin of a friendly couple, they are attacked by Davis and his men.

Climax – Grey and Davis resolve the issue in a knife fight at the cabin. You can guess who wins.

Resolution – Duh! Grey and Belle get married and live happily ever after.

Surprise!

I didn’t follow the nine-point outline when writing A Stalking Death. I began with only one sentence that I picked up from an old AIP Vincent Price movie: “I was so angry this morning that I threw a cabbage at a cat.” That’s all I had to begin with – no plot, no setting, no character. It’s a process called Writing Into The Dark and it works for me. I never think about plot points, pinch points, midpoints or points of no return. I trust my subconscious mind to take care of all that. And it does.

My point? If you feel the need to outline your novel or screenplay, go ahead. The nine points above are an excellent guide. But consider this. Now that you have read those nine points they are embedded in your subconscious. The roadmap is already in place. Trust your gut and write on! Not only will you get to your ultimate destination, you will be amazed and delighted by the surprises you encounter along the way.

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Quote of the Week:  “You ain’t goin’ nowhere with that, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”Grand Ole Opry booking agent Jim Denny to a young singer named Elvis Presley.

Recommended Reading: Great Writers on the Art of Fiction edited by James Daley

Recommended Viewing: An Age of Kings, a BBC 15-part mini-series. (If you think a pre-007 Sean Connery couldn’t do Shakespeare, you’d be wrong, very wrong.)

Recommended Sites:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

Shameless Self Promotion

 

https://www.bing.com/shop?q=barnes+and+noble+books+and+Dan+Baldwin&FORM=SHOPPA&originIGUID=88DAA15B0FD344E48B03DC522ECCC6FD

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

https://www.draft2digital.com/book/

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Oh, Poop!

Or, Where the Heck Did We Get That Phrase?

 

Poop­, a reference to information, refers to the poop deck where the captain of the old sailing ships issued his commands. That’s where sailors got the poop.

 

A writer who has too many irons in the fire is in the same position as a blacksmith who puts so many irons in his forge (fire) that the level of heat never rises to the level required to work the metal – nothing gets finished.

 

A writer cranking out second-rate materials to pay the monthly bills may turn to writing pot-boilers – works to keep food in his cooking pot.

 

Schmaltz, currently applied to overly-sentimental writing, is a German and Yiddish word for rendered animal fat.

 

If your writing is bombastic, it is overstuffed – liked the cotton used to stuff quilted garments which was called bombast .

 

When an editor or client puts the kibosh on your article, the act is reminiscent of the Irish cie bas (pronounced ki-bosh), a black cap donned by English judges before announcing a verdict of death.

 

Writers often have to put on a dog and pony show to beef up a bit of less-than-substantial piece. The term comes from early circus days when a dog and pony show was a derisive term for a small circus lacking in large acts.

 

Scuttlebutt, gossip, refers to the water cask on a sailing ship. Sailors gathered for a drink would chat, complain, converse and spread the latest gossip.

 

A muckraker engages in the literary equivalent of the “man with the muck rake” from Pilgrim’s Progress, who was so busy raking manure that he never saw the halo above his head.

 

An editor for a news outlet who changes his position or waivers an issue waffles, which comes from the term “waff” – to move back and forth.

 

Like the spirit haunting the old house down the lane, a ghost writer is unseen, unrecognized and in some cases unpaid. Sigh….

 

If you’re strapped for cash (like some ghostwriters) you might have to tighten your belt due to the shrinking size of your stomach – strapped in, so to speak.

 

Slogan is derived from the Sots Gaelic sluag-ghairm, a fierce war cry. Upon hearing some of the ridiculous slogans in modern advertising (Love: It’s what makes a Subaru a Subaru) I have often uttered a war cry of disbelief.

 

Whitewash is a mix of lime, salt and water used as an inexpensive and fast means to cover up a surface. Read your Tom Sawyer. The application to a scandal is obvious.

 

The file in your computer or your filing cabinet gets its definition from the Latin filum, a thread. Back in the good old days papers were filed by threading them on a length of string.

 

Hype refers to a racehorse that has been doped up with a stimulant – something writers often have to do with a story.

 

When printing presses were converted from wood type to metal, the cast metal plates were called a cliché. Because the clichés were used again and again, the word has come to mean an overused word or phrase.

 

A hack was a horse for hire. Since we writers work for hire….

Writers who get something terribly wrong are said to have put your foot in it, an unpleasant experience. The “it” referred to, obviously, is… well, if you’ve ever marched in a parade behind the elephants you know what I mean.

 

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Quote of the Week:  “Egotist, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.” From The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

Recommended Reading:  Rome Versus Carthage – The War at Sea by Christa Steinby

Recommended Sites:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

Shameless Self Promotion

 

https://www.bing.com/shop?q=barnes+and+noble+books+and+Dan+Baldwin&FORM=SHOPPA&originIGUID=88DAA15B0FD344E48B03DC522ECCC6FD

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

https://www.draft2digital.com/book/

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

Available in Paperback and E-Book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your favorite outlet.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

BettyPam – She’s Back. And She’s Bad!

   Readers of this bloggette know that my nemesis is the one and only BettyPam – the young secretary who must approve, rewrite and in many cases write missives to be issued under her boss’s name. “That BettyPam, she writes all my stuff; She done made straight B’s in English almost all the way through high school.” Regardless of the skills of his advertising agency or PR firm, or his in-house marketing department, or the abilities of freelance talent, everything has to go through BettyPam. I do a lot of corporate ghostwriting and must on occasion do battle with this formidable opponent.

   The conflict is as basic as it is unavoidable. The writer wants to get the appropriate message to the appropriate audience in the most efficient and effective manner. BettyPam wants the boss to look good. Some of you readers are (or will) find yourselves being maneuvered into BettyPam territory. Here are a few BettyPam-isms to avoid. (References here are primarily for formal or external written material and not for the more informal jocularity found in some house organs.)

   . Except for the initial identification, do not use first names or Mr. or Miss or Mrs. in subsequent references in the document. I recently had a near-row with a corporate client, Mr. Pricklybastard Smith, who demanded the use of his first name and the Mr. designation throughout the article I had written for him. I finally convinced him that the news organization he targeted would immediately toss the article in the round file because it would not be in proper form.

   . Put the most important fact at the head of the news release, article, story, e-mail or blog. Don’t build up to the key point because you’ll lose your reader long before he can wade through your copy to get to it. That’s especially true when the reader feels that reading the boss-as-buddy copy is mentally akin to swimming in molasses.

   . Use standard Times Roman or Courier type face in 12 point type and stick to basic manuscript style. Do not use multiple fonts, various type sizes, boxalls or dingbats. All of that make-work will have to be undone by the craftsmen who publish the article. The harder you make working with your writing, the more likely it will never see publication. Avoid making the manuscript “cute.”

   . Never assume that the reader knows what you know. Naturally, everyone in the organization knows the function of the firm’s biodegradable steel-toed frammerjammers, but if the reader doesn’t, be sure to explain what the darn thing is before proceeding to proclaim its virtues.

   . More is not automatically better. Printed space and air time is limited as is the patience of online readers. If something doesn’t really belong in the article, leave it out.

   . Don’t use “golly gee” writing style. I get to review/rewrite BettyPam’s copy sometimes. One news article that crossed my desk initiated a serious round of gag reflexes. “Bob, he’s a great boss and everyone here thinks so, says we’re putting some new asphalt on our parking lot. That will make our valued customers more happy.” If you think I’m making that up, you haven’t met BettyPam. Keep the copy straightforward, factual and without the golly gosh.

   . Lastly, if you, the writer, have to deal with your own BettyPam, do not get into an argument over style with her. She made straight B’s in English almost all the way through high school after all. Just politely let the boss know that if the material goes in as written or revised by the little darlin,’ it will never see the light of day.

    That usually makes them see the light.

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Quote of the Week:  “He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.”  Edmund Burke

Recommended Reading: Lawrence Block’s Writing the Novel from Plot to Print to Pixel

Recommended Sites:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

Shameless Self Promotion

 

https://www.bing.com/shop?q=barnes+and+noble+books+and+Dan+Baldwin&FORM=SHOPPA&originIGUID=88DAA15B0FD344E48B03DC522ECCC6FD

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

https://www.draft2digital.com/book/

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Thoughts on This and That – Part Two

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   Words do mean thing and the choice between the best word and an okay word is often the difference between writing what you mean and writing something kinda’ sorta’ probably like what you mean. It’s the difference between your reader thinking, “All right!” or thinking, “Say, what?”

Engine vs. Motor -  An engine is a device using a form of energy to create mechanical energy. A motor is a type of engine - in most cases a reference to the internal combustion engine.

Client vs. Customer -  often used interchangeably. But (only a general guideline here), customers are usually purchasers of goods or services from such businesses as shop, restaurant, movie theater, book store and so on. A client generally is someone engaging someone else or some firm for a professional service, such as an attorney or an architect.

Concussion vs. Contusion -  A concussion is the result of an action causing impairment of an organ. A blow to the head can cause a concussion which impairs brain function. A contusion is a bruise, but one in which the skin is not broken.

Rating vs. Share – A television rating refers to the percentage of sets tuned in to a specific program. A share is the percentage of sets tuned into that program from among all sets turned on at that time. Check out the film Network to see the limits of what networks will do to improve their ratings and shares.

College vs. University -  A college is a postsecondary educational institution offering a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. An educational institution at the highest levels and may include several colleges. Universities offer the BA, BS degrees and in addition Master’s and Johnso… sorry… Master’s and Doctor’s degrees.

Seminar vs. Workshop – A seminar is a gathering for further education. A workshop is a more intensive, hands-on gathering. “We learned a lot listening to the presentations at the seminar, but we really got the most benefit from the writing challenges in the workshop that followed.”

PETA vs. PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or the less ferocious, but equally dedicated People Eating Tasty Animals. Only you know where you stand. And whether or not you’re licking your lips.

Body vs. Cadaver – Body refers to the physical human whether alive or dead. A cadaver is the body of a deceased person on whom an autopsy is performed. Think Stephen King – “She has a great body; she keeps it in the freezer at home.”

Tragedy vs. Melodrama – A tragedy is a literary composition which leads to an unhappy ending. Melodrama performs the same function, but with far more exaggerated character traits, stereotypes, and sometimes outrageous plot devices. Thinks King Lear vs. those Mexican soap operas you watch when you think nobody is looking.

Dough vs. Batter – Dough is thick enough to manipulate by hand, such as kneading or rolling or squishing between your fingers. Batter is more of a liquid and must be poured. Note: when you hear the term “batter up,” the reference is not to cooking – unless he’s on a streak. “The batter is really hot today.”

Plaintiff vs. Defendant – The plaintiff issues the lawsuit or complaint against the defendant who must defend his position in court.
Step vs. Stoop –
A step is a foothold for climbing, such as rungs in a ladder or the levels in a staircase. Stoop refers to a small porch in front of a dwelling. The stoop is usually approached by a series of steps.

   Yes, words really do mean things. So, don’t stoop to the lower standard of choosing the first word that comes to mind, but instead step up to find the right word.

Quote of the Week: “One must never make a show of false emotion to one’s men. The ordinary soldier has a surprisingly good nose for what is true and what is false.” Erwin Rommel

Recommended Reading: The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need by Susan Thurman

Recommended Sites:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

Shameless Self Promotion

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Thoughts on This and That

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   Choosing the right word can mean the difference between effective communication and confusion. Words do mean things. To steal a line from Mark Twain, the right word is the difference between lightning bug and lightning.

Peter Principle vs. Murphy’s Law -  Lawrence J. Peter wrote that in every organization every position eventually is occupied by someone incompetent to handle that position. E. A. Murphy, Jr. stated that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong.

Envy vs. Jealousy – Envy is the desire to possess something belonging to another. Jealousy is the resentment developing from the belief that a rival has influence over someone or some event.

Task vs. Chore – a task is work, usually challenging. A chore is an activity performed as part of a daily or regular routine, such as sweeping the floor, washing the family car, or trying to convince your editor that your novel really needs that 5,000 word flashback.

Paperback vs. Softbound -  Paperback books are exactly that – books bound with paper covers. Softbound books are bound with less flexible covers such as cloth, leather or vinyl.

Profession vs. Occupation – A profession is work that requires an advanced knowledge or experience, such as an attorney. An occupation is a job.

Tofu vs. Bean Curd – Two terms for the same thing – a bland food coagulated from an extract of soybeans. Tofu comes from the Sino-Japanese words to, which means bean, and fu, which means rot. (I couldn’t have said it better myself.)

Zenith vs. Nadir -  The zenith is a point directly overhead in the sky and is often used to refer to some high point. For example, the Roman Empire reached its zenith about 30 seconds before the Vandals sacked Rome. Nadir refers to a point directly opposite of the zenith – like 30 seconds after the Vandals sacked Rome.

Football vs. Soccer – Please….

Homicide vs. Murder – Homicide refers to the killing of one person by another. The term does not automatically refer to the commission of a crime. For example, a law enforcement officer serving a warrant who has to kill in self-defense has committed homicide, but has not committed a crime. Murder is a criminal act taking the life of another. Manslaughter is taking the life of another, but without malice aforethought.

Boat vs. Ship – A boat is a small, open vessel for traveling over water. A ship is a much larger craft and is used for traveling in deep water. Think in terms of a motorboat vs. the Queen Mary.

Espresso vs. Cappuccino -  Espresso is a drink prepared on a special machine that forces hot steam under pressure through finely ground coffee beans. Cappuccino is espresso with foamy steamed milk. Note: Espresso is spelled with an S and not an X.

Depressions vs. Recession -  A depression is a prolonged period of economic decline, such as the Great Depression of the 1930s. A recession is a temporary economic decline – unless you write for a politician in the party currently out of power. In that case a recession becomes “the worst economy since….”

Stock vs. Bond -  A stock (short for stock certificate) is a written document proving investment of an organization. “Bevis owns 100 shares of stock in Butthead Co.” A bond is an interest-bearing certificate issued by a government or business, which promises to pay a specific amount of money on a specified date.

Cement vs. Concrete -  Concrete is formed by mixing water, sand, and gavel with cement. Cement is a powered material composed of burned lime and clay.

Assault vs. Battery -  Assault is a threat to do physical harm to another person when the aggressor in the confrontation appears to have the capability to do the dirty deed. “Senator, if you don’t vote for the consumer protection bill, I’m gonna’ kick you in the butt!” No physical contact is made. Battery occurs when someone uses unjustified force by making physical contact with another person.

Prediction vs. Prognosis -  A prediction is someone’s stated belief about a future event. Prognosis refers to the predicted course of a disease. “Once we remove that boot from your butt, Senator, the prognosis is good.”

Quote of the Week: “Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.” Eric Hoffer

Recommended Reading: Up the Organization by Robert Townsend

Recommended Sites:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

Shameless Self Promotion

 

http://www.growthtofreedom.com/175 or on iTunes

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Thoughts on Book Signings

 

   I am in the middle of a summer-long series of book signings for Speaking With Spirits of the Old Southwest. Many of you will publish books and will someday find yourself sitting at a small desk in a large book store watching with a hopeful look in your eyes as people walk by and whisper, “I’ll pick this up on my way out” before disappearing forever from your life. I thought I’d share a few random thoughts on the process.

   Bring Extra Books. This is obvious if your signing is at a local mom ‘n pop store. Chain stores prefer to order directly from the publisher or their distributor. Your books should be at the local outlet when you arrive. Should – interesting word that. On a couple of occasions I have arrived at a chain outlet to hear the manager say, “I’m sorry, but your books haven’t come in.” Having a supply of your own books in the trunk of your car can mean the difference between a lost opportunity or a successful signing. In those situations, we sold my books and split the profits (60% author/40% store) less my cost of the books.

  Engage the Customers.  Learn a lesson from Starship Captain Jon Luc Picard from Star Trek and, “Engage.” Don’t just sit at your table and watch people pass by. Make eye contact. Say “hello” or “May I tell you about my book?” Recently I saw a young woman examining a shelf of books near my table. I smiled and said, “I have the most fascinating book in the store here.” She stepped over and after I told her about the book, she bought it. That never would have happened had I not made the effort to make contact.

   Never disengage. I have seen authors at booksignings ignore the customers (and potential sales) by reading a book or magazine while people walked by. Without engagement, they’ll just keep on walking.

   Bring a “Baby Catcher.” My dad loved little kids. He always carried an old-fashioned pocket watch, which he called his “baby catcher.” He would hold the watch by the chain, spin the watch and the children would always run over to watch the show. Savvy book marketers do the same thing at book signings. Bring something in addition to your book to attract attention. When promoting our paranormal book my friends Dwight and Rhonda Hull put those tiny marshmellows in small ziplock plastic bags. They place these in a crystal candy bowl and put up a sign reading “Ghost Poop.”  It’s a great attractor and a great lead-in to discussing the book. Don’t laugh at such silliness. If you ever attend a major trade show you will see billion dollar corporations employing exactly the same technique.

   Dress for the Venue. The authors at the book signing I attended this past weekend were dressed in everything from shorts and a polo shirt and sandals to people wearing business suits. I usually wear my cowboy boots, my “Sunday go to meeting” jeans, a dress shirt and my cowboy hat. That’s the image on the author’s page in my books. If speaking to a business group I might add a sports jacket.  When planning your wardrobe consider two factors: your image and the fact that you’ll be sitting in an uncomfortable chair for three to four hours.

   Develop a Positive Attitude. Ninety-nine percent of the people in the store have not come to buy your book. Ninety-nine percent of those people will never buy your book. You will be ignored by almost everyone who passes you by; some will purposely look away just so they don’t make eye contact. That’s all right. It’s part of the game. Be happy with the books you sell. Be equally happy with the contacts you make, the business cards you hand out, and the people you meet.

   Be Gracious to Your Host. Thank the owner or manager in charge. These people can help or hinder sales long after the signing is over. Saying how much you appreciate their efforts is good business. It’s also a matter of basic courtesy.

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Quote of the Week: “There is no such things as ‘soft sell’ or ‘hard sell.’ There is only ‘smart sell’ and ‘stupid sell.’” Charles Brower

Recommended Reading: The Devil’s Chessboard – Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government by David Talbot

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

Shameless Self Promotion

 

http://www.growthtofreedom.com/175 or on iTunes

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

This was a terrific interview on writing. Check it out at these links:

http://www.growthtofreedom.com/175 or on iTunes


 

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Misplaced Modifiers or How Did the Elephant Get In Those Pajamas

   Readers of this blogette know that I am fond of quoting Groucho Marx’s infamous statement, “Last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I’ll never know.”

That’s an example of a misplaced modifier – a word, phrase or clause improperly separated from the word it is supposed to modify. The misplacement causes confusion and in too many cases unintended laughter from the reader. For example, did the writer of the following sentence really mean that the subject of this news report was having intimate relations with… well, you make up your own mind about what the sentence means.

 

“April Dawn Peters… was arrested at 10:30 p.m., and charged with aggravated assault after she allegedly hit a man on his head at least five times with a hammer that she was having sex with.”

 

Sexual identity seems to be a common problem with some writers, For example:

 

“One of three sisters, Hilda’s father was a butcher who ran four shops in Oldham."

 

We live in a rather sexually free world, but, really, there must be limits.

 

“Princess Beatrice… was photographed running in the surf on the island of St Barts with her American boyfriend Dave Clark dressed in a blue bikini last month."

Take a gander at these scribblings and I suspect you’ll agree with me that the words on paper don’t really match the thoughts in the writer’s head.

 

 Used widely since the 1970s, environmentalists now estimate between 500 billion to a trillion (paper) bags are produced annually worldwide."

“An hour later a chubby man in a wrinkled suit with pasty skin walked in.”

 

“A Swiss farmer has discovered a huge trove of ancient Roman coins in his cherry orchard. Weighing around 33lb, he discovered the coins after spotting something shimmering in a molehill."

“You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian composers, artists, and writers are buried daily, except on Thursdays.”

"Historians have been kept guessing over claims [that] Dr James Barry, Inspector General of Military Hospitals, was in fact a woman for more than 140 years."

"After being busted on drug charges in Los Angeles last month, a federal judge will decide on Friday whether to rescind his probation and send the rapper back to prison."
 

 

“(The) Bank worker tried to film naked women as they lay in tanning booths on his mobile phone."

 

Marmite is a British food spread. It must be pretty good because:

 

 “For many people eating spoonfuls of Marmite every day would be their worst nightmare, but for St John Skelton it’s his dream job. . . . Despite being loathed by millions across the world, St John can’t get enough of the stuff and eats it almost every day."

 

“Her only full-time paid employee is a pleasant young woman with a nose ring named Rebecca, who sits at the front desk.”

 

“She handed out brownies to children wrapped in Tupperware.”
Misplaced modifiers are remarkably easy to write and just as easy to miss during proof reading. A savvy writer will be on the watch for these sneaky devils; the danger in misplaced modifiers is that they can lead to misplaced readers.

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Quote of the Week: “The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.” Mark Twain

Recommended Reading: The Mutes by Micah Hackler

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

https://beelieveparanormal.wordpress.com/about

Shameless Self Promotion

 

 

http://www.growthtofreedom.com/175 or on iTunes

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Guest Blogger – Harvey Stanbrough

I’ve always believed in the “paying it forward” concept and a recent commentary on the subject by my friend Harvey Stanbrough touched directly on the topic. With his permission, I’m passing along his thoughts… which should give you some thoughts about paying it forward in your own life.

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Guest Blog

How I Conduct a Copyedit

by Harvey Stanbrough

I’ve always liked the concept of “paying it forward.” I’ve also always liked the concept of delivering more than is expected of me.

In a copyedit, the writer is paying the copyeditor to check for

punctuation, spelling and wrong-word usage;
grammar and syntax, including obviously accidental shifts in verb tense;
redundant narrative;
consistency in hyphenation, numerals, fonts, and capitalization;
consistency in character names, clothing, scene details, etc.;
pacing and flow; and
anything else that might confuse or otherwise interrupt the reader.

That’s what a copyeditor does. That’s what the writer is paying him to do. But I’m also a writing instructor and a successful professional writer. So I kind’a stretch things a bit.

When writers hire me to copyedit their work, I most often copyedit a few pages. If they’ve grounded the reader in the setting in every opening, if they’ve included adequate sensory detail through the opinions of the POV character, and if they’ve provided good character descriptions when a character is first introduced, I do pretty much a straight copyedit.

But if they’re lacking any of those elements (or a few others) and I think I can help, I toss in a little instruction via embedded comments.

Then I email them those first few pages and ask, “Would you like me to continue with the instruction (no extra charge), or should I do just a straight copyedit?” You’d probably be surprised at the number of writers who write back and say I should continue with a straight copyedit. Of course, I’m happy to do that. Frankly, it’s a lot less work for me.

But every now and then one writes back with something like “Yes, please. I’d prefer the instruction as well.” I’m ecstatic to have found a writer who’s hungry to learn. And of course, I’m happy to provide the instruction, even though it does take up more time.

Why?

Because that and these silly blogs are about the only ways I really have of paying it forward. Passing along what I know.

And sure, there’s a “feel good” ego-feed aspect to it too, but that’s an abstract concept. It’s nice in the moment, but otherwise it doesn’t really matter.

On the other hand, increased sales for a writer whose work is much improved is about as concrete as it gets.

And all in all, that’s a pretty good legacy.

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Harvey’s latest novel is D.R.E.A.D.

Contact: http://harveystanbrough.com/

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Quote of the Week: “Those who give cheerfully give twice—once to others, once to themselves.” Anonymous

Recommended Reading: Essential Teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

https://beelieveparanormal.wordpress.com/about

Shameless Self Promotion

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

X-Rated and Sent Home

I recently endeavored to persevere through one of my annual “This might sting a bit” visits with my GP, Dr. Clarice Vendetta and her All Nurse Review. While biting my lip in anticipation of hearing the word “cough,” I had time to examine some of the notes she and her fellow graduates of Torquemada Tech had made during the previuos week. I was amazed, amused and amply astounded by the medicinal mayhem scribbled on their charts. Writers: perhaps it’s time to consider a consultation with your own physician to help him or her heal thy self-imposed literary nonsense.

Here for reference are a few examples of what to look for.

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Patient stated that if she would lie down, within 2-3 minutes something would come across her

     abdomen and knock her up.

She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life until she got a divorce.

The patient has been depressed ever since she began seeing me.

The patient was advised to not go around exposing himself to other people.

Pain in his ear with inability to breathe through his ear.

The patient states that there is a burning pain in his penis which goes to his feet.

The patient left the hospital feeling much better except for her original complaints.

On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared.

The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

She is numb from her toes down.

Examination of the genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.

Patient was alert and non-responsive.

The patient refused autopsy.

Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

The patient has no previous history of suicides.

The patient does not smoke or drink alcohol.

Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.

Discharge status: alive but without my permission.

Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

While in ER, she was examined, X-rated, and sent home.

I will be happy to go into her GI system; she seems ready and anxious.

Patient was released to outpatient department without dressing.

The pelvic exam will be one later on the floor.

The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.

She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

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The quotes are real. I could continue with the list, but if I’m to sit at this desk any longer I’d have to go inflate my donut. Until next time, stay tuned.

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Quote of the Week: There’s a hell of a distance between wisecracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words.” Dorothy Parker

Recommended Reading: Duel – Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Future of America by Thomas Fleming

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

https://beelieveparanormal.wordpress.com/about

Shameless Self Promotion

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Grammar, What Big Griefs You Have!

 

Sentence Intrruptus – I was “corrected” by a young editor for interrupting a perfectly good, nicely flowing sentence with additional information separated by a couple of commas. “The client, accompanied by his attorney, approached the district attorney.” As I explained, with trepidation over the possibility of ticking off the editor and losing valuable income, the sentence was perfectly fine. A sentence interrupter, yes, that’s what they are called, is something that could be removed from a sentence without affecting the meaning of that sentence. It is perfectly okay, provided the need is justified, to drop in a sentence interrupter if it makes the passage clearer for the reader. Sentence interrupters are often preceded by accompanied by, in addition to, together with, or along with.

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Speaking of writing speaking, we commonly read quotations or dialog broken in half by a tag. For example: “I don’t like to break a quote in half,” Dan wrote. “It breaks the flow for no reason.” It’s better, to me at least, to keep the flow going by placing the tag at the beginning or the end of the entire quote. Breaking it up takes the reader out of the moment and that’s the last thing a writer wants to do.

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Hello Muddah, hello Fadduh.
Here I am at Camp Granada.
Camp is very entertaining.
And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining
.

Those of us young enough to remember Allan Sherman’s novelty hit, A Letter from Camp, should recognize the proper capitalization of Muddah and Faddah. When writing about parents using a proper name, the titles are capitalized. If the usage is preceded by a personal pronoun (my mother or an aunt) use lower case.

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Should a comma be used before the next to last item in a series or is it okay to skip that last comma, you ask?

            Chef is preparing steak, baked potatoes, and a salad.

            Chef is preparing steak, baked potatoes and a salad.

Typical of the English language, each is correct. It’s up to the writer, provided the writer is consistent in use. My personal preference is to use serial commas: Chef is preparing steak, baked potatoes, and a salad.

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Continuous Interruptus – Does an open faucet pour out water in a continuous flow or a continual flow? That depends. If the flow is a drip-drip-drip the flow is continual – ongoing, but interrupted at intervals. If the flow never stops it is a continuous flow.

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Junk the Jargon. I know you have read, and some of you may have written something for the old annual report that reads like this:

“Our organization proactively leverages synergy across all technology platforms to enhance value-added logistics toward greater empowerment of consumer delight in an environment of transformational change promoting front-end functionalities to foster positioning of core competencies to collaboratively scale impactful platforms.”

Stop it! Don’t do that anymore. You know better. And shame on you. If the message can’t be written in plain English, there is not message to begin with. (Of course, sometimes that’s the point. We ain’t doin’ nothin’ therefore we jargon). A lot of writers get away with this trash, but I bet they don’t sleep well at night.

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Quote of the Week: That’s not a lie; it’s a terminological inexactitude.” Alexander Haig

Recommended Reading: Psy War on Cuba by Jon Elliston

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

https://beelieveparanormal.wordpress.com/about

Shameless Self Promotion

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

You Can’t Quote Me on That,

But You Might Find What These Guys Said Handy Some Day

“Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.” Carl Jung

“If there’s a 50-50 chance that something can go wrong, then nine times out of ten it will.” Paul Harvey

“Basic research is when I’m doing what I don’t know what I’m doing.” Wernher von Braun

 “I like a view, but I like to sit with my back turned to it.” Alice B. Toklas

“The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.” W.C. Fields

“There must be more to life than having everything.” Maurice Sendak

‘”I love mankind—it’s people I can’t stand.” Linus van Pelt

“I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.” Northanger Abbey

“Anonymity is my claim to fame. “Fred Stoller

“Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering—and it’s all over much too soon.” Woody Allen

“I’m an atheist and I thank God for it.” George Bernard Shaw

“Few thinks are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” Mark Twain

“I hate intolerant people.” Gloria Steinem

“If you want to be true to life, start lying about it.” John Fowles

“I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.” Jane Austen

“I am often wrong, but never in doubt.” Ivy Baker Priest

“I have a terrible memory; I never forget a thing.” Edith Konecky

“It’s difficult to keep quiet if you have nothing to say.” Malcolm Margolin

“How is it possible to have a civil war?” George Carlin

“I had to give up masochism—I was enjoying it too much.” Mel Calman

“Be obscure clearly.” E.B. White

“The book written against fame and learning has the author’s name on the title page.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I love being a writer. What I hate is the paperwork.” Peter de Vries

“I was going to buy a copy of The Power of Positive Thinking, and then I thought. “What the hell good would that do?” Ronnie Shakes

Quote of the Week: “The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes—ah, that is where the art resides.” Artur Schnabel

Recommended Reading: Noble’s Book of Writing Blunders by William Noble

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

https://beelieveparanormal.wordpress.com/about

Shameless Self Promotion

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Beating The Cook with a Round Bottom -

A Note For Copywriters and the People Who Hire Them

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First a Little Celebrating

Speaking With Spirits of the Old Southwest premiered as a #1 New Release on Amazon Prime last week. Thanks, folks!

And now back to our previously scheduled program:

Read It or Weep

It’s a “We need it yesterday” world in advertising and there is a tendency for writers to knock out something fast and hand it off (shift blame) to a supervisor for an okay on production. Too often writers and supervisors are in too big a hurry to pause a re-read the copy only to ferret out those unexpected meanings that can creep into hastily written copy. For example:

 

Semi-Annual Christmas Sale

The Superstore – unequaled in size, unmatched in variety, unrivaled inconvenience.

Copy promoting an auto repair shop: Try Us Once, You’ll Never Go Anywhere Again.

Get Rid of Aunts: Zap does the job in 24 hours.

Open Seven Days a Week and Weekends.

Sign on a restaurant wall: Our Best Is None Too Good

Wanted: Man to take care of cow that does not smoke or drink.

No matter what your topcoat is made of, this miracle spray will make it really repellent.

Dog For Sale: Eats Anything and is Fond of Children.

Wanted: Unmarried girls to pick fresh fruit and produce at night.

Sign at a used car lot: Why go elsewhere to be cheated? Come here first!

Sign at an auto repair shop: Best Place in Town to Take a Leak

Sign in a funeral parlor: Ask About Our Layaway Plan.

Tired of Cleaning Yourself? Let Me Do It.

Mixing bowl set designed to please a cook with round bottom for efficient beating.

Our motto is to give our customers the lowest possible prices and workmanship.

Great Dames for Sale

Trespassers Will Be Violated

Swim in the lovely pool while you drink it all in.

Don’t Kill Your Wife. Let Our Washing Machines Do The Dirty Work.

And my personal favorite call for response is…

Illiterate? Write today for free help.

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Quote of the Week: “When I write an ad, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative,’ I want you to find it so persuasive that you buy the product – or buy it more often.” David Ogilvy 1-855-

Recommended Reading: Dallas ’63 by Peter Dale Scott

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

https://beelieveparanormal.wordpress.com/about

Shameless Self Promotion

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Let Barking Dogs Lie

“That damned reviewer hated my novel!”

“The boss hated my e-mail!”

“I got an F on my essay!”

“They rejected my short story!”

“They panned my poem!”

   Regardless of what you write, you will receive criticism. Regardless of the audience – readers, viewers, listeners, co-workers – somebody’s going to come down hard on all your hard work.

   When hit with criticism writers fall into one of two groups

   Writers in one group willingly hand over control of their future in writing to strangers. They bow down and channel future writing into the directions given, often demanded, by their critics.

   A writer in group two ignores criticism and refuses to allow his creativity, his direction and his career to be dominated by others. He instead gets on with the business at hand – writing the next thing.

   I recommend joining the second group. You can adopt three reactions to help get past the inevitable “Oh, no, they don’t like my stuff I’m not worthy I feel sick” moments.

   One: Don’t react to a gut punch with a gut reaction. Control your emotions and the urge to strike back. You have better uses for your time.

   Two: Don’t take it personally. This is especially true if the criticism takes the form of a personal attack. Again, move on. You have better uses for your time.

   Three: Realize that the comments aren’t a personal attack on you by an angry god, an amused devil, or the Wrath of Kahn. Don’t pick up that baggage and carry it to the next writing project. You have better uses for your time.

   Am I arguing against criticism? No. I am, however, making a case for the acceptance of selective criticism. Whenever I finish a major project I automatically send it out for critical evaluation. The work is sent to one faction that reviews for grammar and spelling. Another group reads for content. “Uh, Dan, this is fine, but your article on Far Eastern overcoat manufacturing could have a better title than The Wrap of Kahn.”

   Those specific types of criticism, from people you know and trust, are invaluable. You don’t have to agree or to follow the suggestions of those trusted critics, but your consideration of their input will make you a better writer.

   Ignore the other type of critics and consider the old Arabian saying: The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.

 #

Quote of the Week: One basic rule that applies is: it’s not the writer who decides whether a character is cool; the reader makes that decision. If a writer tries to force things—or lead the witness, as it were—the result is an embarrassing failure.  Lee Child9507Toll free: 1-855-Recommended Reading: When is a Pig a Hog? – A Guide to Confoundingly Related English Words by Bernice Randall

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

https://beelieveparanormal.wordpress.com/about

Shameless Self Promotion

My co-authors as I will appear on COAST TO COAST AM WITH GEORGE NOORY on Monday, May 7th to speak about our book Speaking With Spirits of the Old Southwest. Speaking With Spirits of the Old Southwest. Tucson, AZ residents note that we will be appearing on Morning Blend on KGUN-TV that morning.

 

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

 

The Negative Role of the Narrator

 

   I learned a valuable lesson some time ago during a seminar conducted by my friend Harvey Stanbrough: the role of the narrator is to set the scene – period. That advice came to mind when I recently reviewed a short story for a neighbor venturing into fiction. My neighbor wrote virtually every paragraph as if it was an epic requiring epic words and phrases and epic dialog mixed and mingled with epic proportions of epic events. Every word screamed, “Hey! Look at me! Ain’t I great writer, huh!” Harvey’s advice and the reviewing process helped me realize that the writer should never forget the negative role of his narrator.

   The narrator should not be noticed. The narrator should be out of the verbal picture.

   Whether writing novels, short stories, memoirs or non-fiction works using fictional elements, the narration should be constructed so that the story flows along without drawing attention to itself. This is just my two cents, but I don’t want my reader to stop reading just do say, “Damn, that sure is fine narration.” I’d rather get him through the story and then let him reflect on what a treat he has just enjoyed.

   The writer who lets his narrator call attention to himself pulls the reader out of the story. And that’s the last thing a writer wants. Yes, narration can be powerful, emotional, tragic and beautiful, but it should be written so that the reader is pulled into and through the work and not out of it.

   Once the reader steps out of the story, he may not come back.

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Quote of the Week:  “Guys who think they are geniuses because they have never learned how to say no to a typewriter are a common phenomenon. All you have to do is get a phony style and you can write any amount of words.” Ernest Hemingway

Recommended Reading: Cowboy Slang by Edgar R. “Frosty” Potter

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

www.beelieveparanormal.com

 

Shameless Self Promotion

My Co-Authors and I will Appear on Coast to Coat AM With George Noory on May 7. For you southern Arizona folks we will be on KGUN’s Morning Blend that same day. Tune in and check out our new book

 

http://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738756745

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/speaking-with-the-spirits-of-the-old-southwest-dan-baldwin/1127149230

https://www.facebook.com/Speaking-With-The-Spirits-of-The-Old-Southwest-130615794198010/

https://www.amazon.com/Speaking-Spirits-Old-Southwest-Conversations/dp/0738756741

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2017

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

The Magic of Just Doing It

   One of the high school students I mentored a while back told me she couldn’t wait to get to college and take her creative writing courses so she could someday become a “real writer.” My response was to ask her if she knew how to write a sentence. “Yes,” she said. I then said, “Do you know what a noun is? A verb? An adjective?” Again, she said, “Yes.” I pointed out that she had just completed 12 years of studying English and that she already had the basic tools to become a “real writer.”

“All you have to do now is – write.”

I hope I got through to her, but I doubt it. Our society has achieved brilliance in the art of putting things in the way of achieving what we want. Writers are terribly guilty of this.

Here’s the secret to becoming a “real writer.”

Write.

Just do the work. Write every day. It’s a simple matter of discipline. Just sit down with your keyboard, pencil and paper, or charcoal and the back of a shovel and write.

Amazing things happen when you apply this discipline. Your friendly neighborhood muse drops in to help move things along. Ideas pop into your head. Fascinating characters appear seemingly out of nowhere. Mental neon arrows blinking and blazing away point the way to plot twists and turns. Suddenly that novel, memoir, non-fiction work, short story, e-mail or letter back home is done. And it’s good!

All because you just sat down and did the work.

It’s not really magic. But it damn sure is magical.

#

Quote of the Week: “Right discipline consists, not in external compulsion, but in habits of mind which lead spontaneously to desirable rather than undesirable activities.” Bertrand Russell

Recommended Reading: Ernest Hemingway on Writing edited by Larry W. Phillips

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

https://beelieveparanormal.wordpress.com/about

Shameless Self Promotion

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2018

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

 

I Was Going to Write About Writer’s Block,

But I Couldn’t Come Up With Anything

Beat… two… three… go. Not so funny, I know, but neither is the challenge of writer’s block. Notice I didn’t write that writer’s block is the challenge. To quote Chuck Yeager about the sound barrier (The Right Stuff), “I don’t think the damn thing exists.”

What does exist is the fear of writer’s block. For some people it seems they believe it’s almost a ritual that has to be endured so that he can claim the glorious title of writer. “I suffer therefore I am a writer.” As Col. Potter from MASH would say, “Horse hockey!” That fear is far worse and far more damaging than the (at least for me) non-existent thing called writer’s block.

The way to handle the challenge is easy: write a word. And then write another word and then write the word that comes after it and then the one that comes after that one and an hour or two later you’ll realize you never had writer’s block in the first place.

If you think you’re facing writer’s block: don’t think.

Write. Your determination, skill and your drive to see what happens next in your story will take care of everything else.

Here’s what a few other writers have to say on the subject.

“There's no such thing as writer's block. That was invented by people in California who couldn't write.”
Terry Pratchett

“I don't sit around waiting for passion to strike me. I keep working steadily, because I believe it is our privilege as humans to keep making things. Most of all, I keep working because I trust that creativity is always trying to find me, even when I have lost sight of it.”
Elizabeth Gilbert

“The subconscious mind is amazingly efficient – it wants to work your story out – and while I’ve never experienced it myself, my guess is that writer’s block is the result of the conscious mind having gotten too involved in the process.”
Alistair Cross

“Writer's block' is just a fancy way of saying 'I don't feel like doing any work today.”
Meagan Spooner

If you think you have writer’s block, think about the above. But not too long – and then get back to writing that next word.

#

Quote of the Week:  “It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.” Thomas Jefferson

Recommended Reading: The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

https://beelieveparanormal.wordpress.com/about

Shameless Self Promotion

 

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2017

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Don’t “Help” Your Book Designer

 

Sometimes an inexperienced writer will “help out” his or her publisher by inserting design elements in to his copy to make it easier – he thinks – to produce.

 

Don’t do this.

 

   I have ghostwritten a number of manuscripts in the appropriate style for several clients when submitting the work for their final fact checking. In too many cases my authors decided to “help” with the final version by inserting boxes and dingbats, changing typefaces and type sizes, changing colors, and varying from standard formatting styles in all kinds of ways thinking they were improving the work. I had to explain that thanks to their unasked for assistance the book or magazine designer would now have to remove all of his changes so that they could work with the original work in standard form.

   What is the standard form? You’re reading it.

   In virtually all cases a manuscript should be in basic caps and lower case format with limited use of boldface, underline and italic. If the piece needs additional work the graphic designer will handle that.

   The author can provide formatting guidelines and suggestions, but he should never do that formatting. Leave it up to the people who know what they’re doing.

 #

Quote of the Week:  “Characters make their own plot. The dimensions of the characters determine the action of the novel.” Harper Lee

Recommended Reading: Think Like a Publisher by Dean Wesley Smith

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

https://beelieveparanormal.wordpress.com/about

Shameless Self Promotion

My Co-Authors and I will Appear on Coast to Coat AM With George Noory on May 7. For you southern Arizona folks we will be on KGUN’s Morning Blend that same day. Tune in and check out our new book

 

http://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738756745

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/speaking-with-the-spirits-of-the-old-southwest-dan-baldwin/1127149230

https://www.facebook.com/Speaking-With-The-Spirits-of-The-Old-Southwest-130615794198010/

https://www.amazon.com/Speaking-Spirits-Old-Southwest-Conversations/dp/0738756741

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2017

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Writing Tip of the Week

Be Funny – Now!

 “I need you to write something funny. And I need it now!” The writer who hears that from an editor or a client in need of a pick-me-up for his speech to the Visiting Firemen’s Association shouldn’t panic. Writing Humor-While-U-Wait is like writing anything else. Just relax, follow a few basic guidelines and the good humor will come, man. Here are six sources of inspiration that always work for me.

  • Honesty

  • Tension release

  • Shock value

  • Attack authority

  • Audience involvement

  • Go for broke

   Honesty really is the best policy because good humor is based in reality. Ron White knows how to charm an audience by making fun of himself or situations in which he’s been involved – situations the audience can identify with and laugh at.

I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade... And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.

People are saying that I'm an alcoholic, and that's not true, because I only drink when I work, and I'm a workaholic

 

I believe that a bad Super Bowl halftime show is still better than a soccer game.

   Tension release is useful because these days everybody seems to be wound up about everything. Anyone who can provide some relief, especially through laughter, is a welcome member of the family. George Carlin was a master.

You know an odd feeling? Sitting on the toilet eating a chocolate candy bar.
I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older; then it dawned on me - they're cramming for their final exam.
Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

   Shock value throws the audience a curve, gets them laughing and sets them up for what follows. Dirty jokes, insult humor and the unexpected utterance are examples. No one was better at throwing an audience curves than Robin Williams.

If women ran the world we wouldn't have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.
Never pick a fight with an ugly person, they've got nothing to lose.
The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying, 'Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses.' She's got a baseball bat and yelling, 'You want a piece of me?'


   Attacking authority is a proven laugh machine. Who wouldn’t laugh at an IRS joke? This is a kinder, gentler form of shock humor and few have done it better than Bob Hope.

It's so cold here in Washington, D.C., that politicians have their hands in their own pockets.

Ronald Reagan is not a typical politician because he doesn't know how to lie, cheat, and steal. He's always had an agent do that."

Carter wants to go to Washington. He'll feel right at home there - he was raised on a nut farm ...

   Involve the audience by commenting on the host, the honoree, the facility or something they can identify with in their immediate surroundings. You can open with, “An Irishman and a Brit went into a pub and….” Or, you can use the same joke employing familiar names or places. “Your boss and a Brit went into a pub and….” Richard Pryor’s interaction with his audience was one of the keys to his brilliant humor.

I'd like to make you laugh for about ten minutes, though I'm gonna be on for an hour.

It's so much easier for me to talk about my life in front of two thousand people than it is one-to-one. I'm a real defensive person, because if you were sensitive in my neighborhood you were something to eat."

   Go for broke when you have a funny line or a funny bit and even though you can’t explain how, you know it will work. Even if it has little or nothing to do with the topic or event at hand, if you think it will help the presentation, go for it. Steven Wright is deadpan brilliant at these things.

Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect.

I have a paper cut from writing my suicide note. It's a start...

I installed a skylight in my apartment... the people who live above me are furious!

   During my freelance copywriting days I sometimes called my product Copy-While-U-Wait. The pressure to perform is always part of writing, especially when confronted with a tight deadline. Remember, the joke or the bit is out there in your subconscious. Jump into your ocean of experience, use one or more of the above guidelines and, as Jonathan Winters often said, “If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to it.”

#

 

Quote of the Week: “The devil’s boots don’t creak.” Scottish Proverb

Recommended Reading: The Chicago Manual of Style

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

https://beelieveparanormal.wordpress.com/about

Shameless Self Promotion

My Co-Authors and I will Appear on Coast to Coat AM With George Noory on May 7. For you southern Arizona folks we will be on KGUN’s Morning Blend that same day. Tune in and check out our new book

 

http://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738756745

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/speaking-with-the-spirits-of-the-old-southwest-dan-baldwin/1127149230

https://www.facebook.com/Speaking-With-The-Spirits-of-The-Old-Southwest-130615794198010/

https://www.amazon.com/Speaking-Spirits-Old-Southwest-Conversations/dp/0738756741

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2017

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Get A Job!

I knew a screenwriter wannabe who was so dedicated to writing the perfect script that he’s probably never gotten around to writing it. Before starting the script he studied creative writing. He then studied screenwriting. To familiarize himself with the techniques of filmmaking he took a course in videography. And then a course in film editing. Directing came next. That was 25 years ago and I’ll be he still hasn’t finished his script.

I’ll also bet that he’ll never finish that script. His excuses are probably numerous and seemingly logical, but the real reason he fails at writing is simple: he doesn’t treat his writing as a job.

Yes, writing is an art form. Writing is a creative process. Writing also a job. You’ll get more writing and better writing done if you treat it that way.

What does that mean?

It’s pretty basic.

  1. Show up to work every day. If you’re a full-time writer, set a schedule and stick to it. If

Your writing is an avocation, find the time slots you can use for writing and make sure you use those times time to finish the job at hand.

  1. Write when you have the flu. Or when the car breaks down. Or when your cousin Ed and

his team of brats come for a weeklong visit. Writing has to be a priority. Otherwise it’s just playtime.

  1. Don’t “go home” early. Whatever writing schedule you develop, stay with it. Don’t

abandon the workplace just because you can. Besides, what better way to escape Ed ‘n the brats than moving into your writing room for a few hours?

  1. Writing is a career. Think long-term success.

  2. Think paycheck. Professional writers work for money and expect money in return for

their labor. Amateurs who write for praise from friends and family or for the satisfaction of seeing their words on paper also write for remuneration. Accept that fact and do your best to earn your rewards. No slacking even if you’re writing “just for the fun of it.”

  1. Constantly improve your job skills. One of the best and most profitable days of my life

occurred when it finally hit me that I don’t know it all. Practice your craft. Improve your skills.

  1. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Yes, I know you’re a writer and you have to sweat

blood to practice your craft. You may even be one of those unfortunates who have to suffer for your craft, but every now and then give it a break. Writing is a job and there is a time to struggle with it, a time to celebrate it, a time to mourn it… and a time to just laugh at it.

Enjoy the laugh.

And then get back to work.

#

Quote of the Week:  “A man’s maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child, at play.” Friedrich Nietzche

 Recommended Reading: Closing the Deal on Your Terms by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

https://beelieveparanormal.wordpress.com/about                                     www.CosgroveCrime.com

Shameless Self Promotion

 

Check out more of my books at:

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2017

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Recommended Reading

One of the best days of my life was the day I leaned that I didn’t “know it all.” That day I started what for that time was a new experience – learning. Today that process continues, especially in reading to improve my writing skills. Here’s a partial list of valuable books currently in my library, books that have been and still are part of the process.

Writing

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White (top of every list)

Lessons Learned from a Lifetime of Writing by David Morrell

Grammar Sucks by Joanne Kimes with Gary Robert Muschla

Texting Dictionary of Acronyms by Randall C. Manning

The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri

Words You Should Know by Michelle Bevilacqua

Word Gone Wild – Fun and Games for Language Lovers  by Jim Bernhard

Creating Plot by J. Madison Davis

Style and Circumstance by Phineas J. Caruthers

The Corporate Scriptwriting Book by Donna Matrazzo

The Lively Art of Writing  by Lucile Vaughan Payne

Junk English by Ken Smith

Details

The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter

How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon by Penny C. Sansevieri

CreateSpace & Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass by Rick Smith

Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz

Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript by Chuck Sambuchino and the Editors of Writer’s Digest Books

Business

The Copyright Guide by Lee Wilson

Literary Law Guide for Authors by Tonya Marie Evans and Susan Borden Evans

Quotable Business by Louis E. Boone

Philosophy of Writing

Stephen King on Writing  by Stephen King

The Art of Non-Fiction by Ayn Rand

Writing Realistic Dialog and Flash Fiction  by Harvey Stanbrough

Useful Fun

Crazy English by Richard Lederer

The Movie Quote Book by Harry Haun

The Greatest Stories Never Told by Rick Beyer

Thank Your Lucky Stars

Duel of Eagles by Peter Townsend

Dan Baldwin

baldco@msn.com www.fourknights press.com www.danbaldwin.biz

Amazon author page:

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0080Z24CO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Fear, Son of Fear, and Fear Meets the Three Stoges

#

 

 

The character Gordon Gekko from the film Wall Street uttered one of moviedom’s most famous lines. “Greed is good.”

I’d like to twist that technique and apply the phrase to something all writers face all the time. “Fear is good.”

Fear of starting the next novel, short story, non-fiction book, report, e-mail or angry letter to that old SOB down at city hall is natural. And it’s a good sign for the writer.

If you’re afraid it’s because you’re challenged.

Challenge is good. It means you have an opportunity to stretch as a writer. It’s a chance to grow, improve your skills, and earn a well-deserved sense of achievement.

Look at it this way: if you don’t feel challenged, if you don’t feel that uncomfortable cold spot in the pit of your stomach it’s because you’re comfortable with the writing ahead. The reason you’re comfortable is that you’ve done it before. Where’s the challenge in that? Where’s the opportunity for growth? Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt. Got the mug. Why repeat the process?

I’m not saying that you should feel fear every time you write, but when that cold spot in the old gut does show up - embrace it. That feeling marks the next step and the next improvement in your writing career.

In Up the Organization Robert Townsend reminds us that, “Growth is a by-product of the pursuit of excellence and not itself a worthy goal.” That twinge of fear you feel at the beginning of a new writing project is a sign post: Excellence Ahead.

Pursue.

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Quote of the Week: “A good scare is worth more to a man than good advice.” Edgar Watson Howe

Recommended Reading: A Farewell to Justice by Joan Mellen

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

https://beelieveparanormal.wordpress.com/about

Shameless Self Promotion

 

Available for pre-orders in e-book and paperback. Release date: May 8, 2018

Speaking with Spirits of the Old Southwest – Conversations with Miners, Outlaws and Pioneers Who Still Roam Ghost Towns

LEWELLYN

http://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738756745

AMAZON

https://www.amazon.com/Speaking-Spirits-Old-Southwest-Conversations-ebook/dp/B075W1TJN4/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1508072270&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=speaking+with+the+spirits+of+the+old+southwest

 

Check out more of my books at:

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2017

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Writing Tip of the Week

Avoid the Preamble Ramble Gamble

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   Every writing project has a beginning a middle and an end. Each element is important, but if the writer doesn’t get the beginning right the other two never get read regardless of their quality or significance. The author never gets to sell the next book, short story, news report, ad or recommendation at the end of the e-mail up to corporate. This is especially true for writers who want to continue writing. As Mickey Spillane wrote, “The first chapter sells the book. And the last chapter sells the next book.”

   Regardless of what they’re writing, writers always face the same challenge with the beginning of each work and that challenge is the desire to get it down on paper (screen) right away and desire to get it right. Each is important and the goals are not mutually exclusive.

   Finding the beginning of a non-fiction book, such as one of my ghostwriting or paranormal works, is generally easy. The events portrayed follow an established order. Novels and short stories are different – nothing is established except the need to fill the air pockets inside my head. Selection of a beginning is strictly up to me, the writer.

   One of the biggest mistakes fiction writers make is to begin the work before the real beginning of the story. There’s a natural desire to set up the action that will follow, to provide a lot of background material. For example, the initial novel of my Caldera series of Westerns begins with a young mountain man stumbling onto a fortune in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains. The first draft began with the man struggling through a harsh winter north of Taos, New Mexico. At some point I realized that the real beginning of the novel was the moment he headed into the Superstitions. I cut out the first couple of chapters detailing his moves south and guess what? The novel doesn’t slowly slide into the plot; it jumps right into the action. And the reader jumps with it.

   Before you write that first word, pause and ask yourself it it’s the true beginning or merely preamble.

   My preference for writing is to bang out the entire first draft before beginning any *revisions. Provided I’m confident that my beginning the beginning is right to begin with I begin moving on to begin the rest of the work. For me that satisfies each desire I get it down and I’m confident enough of my skill that I believe I also got it right. Others may prefer to perfect their beginning word-by-word before moving on. And that’s okay. The thing to remember neither approach is automatically better than the other. How you best handle the getting it down vs. getting it right conflict is to find which approach works for you.

   Once you know that, you know how to begin and with a little thought, you’ll know where to begin.

#

*True Confessions – I don’t do a lot of rewriting. I fix, touch up, and cycle back to fill in plot holes, but I don’t sweat blood over-polishing the work. I’d rather invest that time in writing that next book Mr. Spillane mentioned.

#

Quote of the Week: “It is only when proofs are lacking that people try to impose their opinions.” Andre Gide

Recommended Reading: The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

https://beelieveparanormal.wordpress.com/about

Shameless Self Promotion

 

Available for pre-orders in e-book and paperback. Release date: May 8, 2018

Speaking with Spirits of the Old Southwest – Conversations with Miners, Outlaws and Pioneers Who Still Roam Ghost Towns

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https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

 

A Four Knights Press Production

© Dan Baldwin 2017

This blogette may be shared provided there is no charge associated and that the source is credited.

 

 

Effective Communications Tip of the Week

A Comment on Puff Pieces

 

Writers who product public relations materials for clients often face the challenge of drafting a news article or feature that has at least a snowball’s chance in hell of passing through the electronic Hades of a news editor’s desk. The editor’s desk/computer is loaded with articles and each one (to him) is of equal news value. Puff Pieces are among the first to make it to the round file or to experience the delete key. Positive Aspect stories at least have a fighting chance of making it in print or on screen.

 

A positive aspect article differs from a puff piece primarily in that the PA is written strictly according to standard journalistic style. It promotes only the positive side of the person or organization; it is a legitimate news story told in the traditional manner.

 

A puff piece jumps from straightforward reporting right into unabashed praise. The writers generally don’t follow an accepted stylebook. They often use first names throughout the piece. Unnecessary and inappropriate adverbs and adjectives are often tossed out like Mardi Gras throws from a parade float.

 

For example, a puff piece might read:

 

"Bob is a terrific boss and we can go in to see him with a problem any time. We think that's really cool."

 

A writer who wants the piece to have a lifespan beyond the editor’s, “Bah Humbug!” will follow appropriate style.

 

"Smith maintains a good rapport with his staff by managing the office with an open door policy."

 

Notice that the puff piece and the positive aspect piece say the same thing. The difference is that the latter will possibly see life in print. The first version will be terminated with extreme prejudice.

 

The difference is mostly a matter of style, although sometimes the puff piece will slip into

outright falsehoods. "Bob supports women's rights in the office place" is pretty hard to believe when everyone in the community knows he refers to his universally buxom female staff as "My little groupies."

 

The biggest problem with a puff piece is that it is so obvious. The editor knows his publication will suffer from a loss of credibility. The writer knows this, too. Sadly, Bob (the swell boss) often doesn’t. Unless his craving for puffery is held in check, ultimately he is the one whose puffed up bubble bursts the loudest.

 

Quote of the Week: “The devil’s boots don’t creak.” Scottish Proverb

Recommended Reading: The Chicago Manual of Style

Recommended Links:

www.ssa_az.org

www.ssa-vs.org

www.harveystanbrough.com

www.lwsliteraryservices.com

https://beelieveparanormal.wordpress.com/about

  True stories of a unique approach to speaking with those who have crossed over - and many who have come back.
 
  Pre-Order Now for May, 2018 Release -

 http://llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738756745

 

  

 

The Levine Project - A True Story of personal domestic terror in Tucson and a couple's struggle to survive intimidation, property destruction, and eventually attempted murder and their fight for justice in state and federal court.

Now available in hardback, paperback and ebook

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Also available from all major distributors online.

 

 

  FINALIST - BEST BOOK AWARDS 2017 and NEW MEXICO-ARIZONA BOOK AWARDS 2017

 

Why Would the Officers and Board of Directors Violate Their 501c3 Non-Profit Corporation Bylaws To Remove Board Members And What the Hell Does That Have to Do With Writing A Book on Psychic Detecting?

Interesting reading with 70 pages of documentation (fascinating reading themselves). If you are a writer considering coauthoring a book, Do As I Say Not As I Did. Available in ebook and paperback. 

https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Baldwin/e/B0080Z24CO

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/666742

  

 

 

     FINALIST - NEW MEXICO-ARIZONA BOOK AWARDS COMPETITION 2017

  WINNER - NEW MEXICO-ARIZONA BOOK AWARDS COMPETITION

 

There is an adage, write about what you know, that guides successful authors. Dan Baldwin knows much about locating people, or their remains, in places not thought, in terrain unknown, and with clues provided by a group of volunteers who pool their psychic talents… Baldwin explains how psychic talents work and how they don't. A lot of misconceptions about "psychics" are dismissed with the hard-nosed reality of what such information is and is not. The cases are often sad, by reader's definition - long lost remains are finally located - but satisfying a family's closure to a missing loved one. In these accounts you follow the author from the invitation to the investigation, to assembling the team, to the information presented, and the actions based on the information.

George Sewell

Available in e-book and paperback: http://www.amazon.com/They-Are-Not-Yet-Lost/dp/1519638493/

 

 

 

WINNER - BEST BOOK AWARDS 2017

 

"I read the first couple of paragraphs on Amazon. It chills on the first page. Your Canyon books are a "hard" read for me. But they are brilliant, edgy, new grit Westerns for sure. Such strong material will find a fan club soon. Skilled writing, so well done!"

AnnElise Makin, Author/Journalist

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018YON488

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/598224

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