HomeAboutNovelsShort StoriesNon-fictionCaldera's WestDan's ThoughtsContact and Q&A

Knight.jpg

FOUR KNIGHTS PRESS
Dan Baldwin - Novels, Short Stories & Non-Fiction

aspiritbook.jpg

 

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.

#

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.

#

Harvey’s latest novel is D.R.E.A.D.

Contact: http://harveystanbrough.com/

#

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.

#

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.

#

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.

#

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.

#

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.

#

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.

#

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.

#

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.

#

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.

#

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

#

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.

#

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.

#

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.

#

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

#

   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

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

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

http://www.trafford.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?Book=765191#.

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

Comments  View Comments