Author, Speaker, Golfer

Richard E Todd

Richard enhanced his craft of writing through membership in IWA, the

International Writers Association. IWA membership is open to all writers, poets, authors, and those who love the written and spoken word.


He has since spoken on many different topics at writer conferences, book signings, presentations, and other events, has attended Master Class, and published several books in multiple genres and formats.


He writes a regular column on writing for Loconeal Publishing, entitled Richard's Recourses, a monthly article for Northwest Ohio Golf Links magazine, and periodically throughout the webosphere.


Need some help getting your story in print? See the Writer's Guided Journal and Notebook.


Below are entries from Richard's Resources...





Richard E. Todd: Funny Guy, Writer, and Golfer

Greetings! I’m Richard E, Todd, author, speaker, golfer, and now a regular contributor to the LocoBlog.
 
In my monthly column for Loconeal Publishing, I’ll be sharing my insights into when to write, how to write, working with your muse, tips on creativity, tackling writers block, where to come up with ideas, how to market, how writing has affected my life, and much more.
 
The writing bug bit me five years ago, and in that time I’ve published six different titles in multiple formats and have sales in over 7 countries. I’ve been interviewed on satellite radio as well as local AM stations, podcasts, and newspapers. I’ve spoken at writer’s conferences, book signings, and individual presentations. I also have related articles published in several national print and electronic magazines.
 
So how did I get into writing? Like so many authors, I saw a need and sought to fill it. Initially, I realized that there was very little accessible golf training on the rules and etiquette that was professional and accurate. Learning from others was the standard. The problem with this model is the person teaching generally has had no formal training themselves. So I used the oldest form of education, a story, to explain these topics but I did so in a humorous and entertaining fashion. Think Emily Post meets Caddy Shack. Thus began my career as a writer.
 
Over the years I’ve made some mistakes and learned loads of information. I wish someone had guided me along the publishing path and to be more efficient in my writing process when I first began. And that’s where this column comes in. The goal is to help you be a better writer! 
 
If you have questions, comments, or suggestions on something I’ve written or a topic you’d like to see discussed in upcoming posts, please contact me.  Also follow me on all my social media for other tidbits and entertainment.
 

Richard E Todd, author of The Golf Rules series and Short Stories from the Long Links, has been heard on the PGA Tour radio station and seen in On The Green magazine. Contact him at Richard@TheGolfRules.com and Richard@AuthorRichardETodd.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Wordpress and at www.TheGolfRules.com .


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What's the best time to write?
The answer varies from writer to writer but here are a few discoveries of my own work.
 
I recently realized that my muse wakes up before my critic. That means as I roll out of bed I can grab my tablet and a cuppa Joe and spend some highly productive time being creative. I can write freely without my inner critic voicing his opinion, for he's still in bed for another hour or so. 
 
And if I write before any family member wakes then I have private time with my muse, where we can have undisturbed conversations.
 
Normally, I work best by myself. I find others can interrupt my mojo and derail the creative thought process. This is similar to the way many people prefer to study alone, without interruptions. I do know many authors though that can write great works surrounded by people and chaos. You’ll need to find what works for you and exploit that opportunity.
 
Also, my muse likes to whisper to me at all times of the day and night, no matter where I’m at. My wife gets mad as I grab my phone and make a note on something my muse said to me, whether that be while we’re in the grocery store, walking in the park, or after we’ve gone to bed. My wife thinks I’m crazy and mentally distracted but it has nothing to do with me.
 
So where and when am I writing this article you ask?
I'm sitting outside on a patio, cup of coffee within reach, watching the first rays of light envelope the palm trees in view, while my family is still in REM cycle, on our last day of vacation. Yes, I bring my muse
with me no matter where I go.
 
I’ve been typing for nearly an hour and feeling ready to stop. But every time I close my iPad to enjoy the scenery and relax my muse whispers in my ear. 'Just another line,' she says as the words for another thought fill my head and pour onto the screen.
 
My muse is shy and as my family wakes she slowly pulls away from me.  She had been walking around the room, thinking of ideas to share before leaning over my shoulder to whisper them to me. But now she retreats to an unoccupied corner to await for our alone time.
 
You need to experiment and review your results to find the best time to write. Although, ask a professional writer what’s the best time to put pen to paper and they will say when you have a project due.


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Where To Find IdeasWhere does a writer get their ideas?
That’s a frequently asked question for authors.
 
Much like we saw in the famous Seinfeld series, a writer gains ideas from daily life. The only difference is a writer learns how to take mundane activities and make them humorous, thought provoking, or educational and, above all else, entertaining.
 
As an example, last weekend I took part in an annual golf trip with my brother-in-law. I watched as he played well, without enthusiasm though, which led me to write a post on what makes an ideal golfer.
 
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to play a round of golf with family members I hadn’t seen in years. Each of us had a career in a different field - a doctor, a firefighter, a statistician, and a banker.  That led to an article in a golf magazine, where I talked about four individuals with little in common but the love of the game.
 
One afternoon, as I was walking my dog, the idea to compare everyday objects, such as a stop sign, to the rules of golf came to mind. I wrote the whole article on this topic using Siri for dictation while I finished my walk.
 
While on vacation, I took part in a free yoga class at our resort. The experience was so moving that, immediately after finishing the class, I wrote an article about it while sitting at the pool and later submitted it to a national yoga magazine.
 
While driving my car, I like to look about. I noticed a manicured area to the side but wasn’t sure if it was a golf course or a cemetery. That got me thinking about a cemetery next to a golf course and what kind of problems could occur. What if the cemetery needed more space, or vice versa. And with that idea I wrote The Grave Hole, one of the tales in my recently released Short Stories from the Long Links.  I narrated the entire story to myself on this 2 hour drive so that when I did get home all I needed to do was type up my thoughts and I had 1000 words. Brilliant if you ask me.
 
I even came up with the idea for this post while brushing my teeth. I’m not sure how that relates to dental care but it goes to show that you always need to be open to inspiration and be prepared to write it down when it does come.
 
So where does a writer come up with ideas? Everywhere! Especially in their mind


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Tomatoes and Writers Block

I’ve been struggling on a project for the last month. The layout of the book is very technical in nature and thus overly challenging and often confusing. I think about the project daily but my thoughts aren’t being put to paper.
 
So what have I done about this problem? Avoidance has been my answer. I’ve worked on anything else I could find – other books, my website, articles for magazines - but spent little actual time on this specific project. I gave myself a deadline and know I want to complete the book, as it will be a very impressive and helpful tool for writers, but I’m having trouble doing the work.  
 
This is a classic case of writers block.
 
Then, out of the blue, I remembered the Pomodoro Technique!
The Pomodoro timer is a well-known productivity tool that uses intervals of work followed by short breaks to increase output.  Pomodoro is an Italian word for tomato sauce. That’s where the clever vegetable logo comes from. I assume the correlation because you set a timer when making sauce from scratch, and not opening a jar to put in the microwave.
 
Yeah, that’s what I’ll do, I told myself.  I’ll set a short-term goal to just sit down at my computer for twenty-five minutes and be happy with whatever I get done. Which surely would be more than I’ve been accomplishing. So, after putting my butt in the chair, which most writers will say is the most important step in writing, I set the timer and began working. I found myself making immediate strides in my work. I find that knowing there’s a finish line motivates you to start.
 
I had all but forgotten the timer was running as I typed away, until I was brought back to the real world by the buzzing of the alarm.  I was amazed it had already been nearly a half hour. I was in the zone though, so I turned off the timer and went back to my page. While this goes against the rules of the Pomodoro Technique I wanted to continue my momentum.  Two hours later I was again jarred from my writing as my stomach started grumbling and I noticed it was dark outside.
 
This is an example of how to beat writers block, just sit down and work.  
 
Anyone with a typical hourly or salary position doesn’t wait for motivation to strike before starting their shift. They get ready and leave for their job so they can arrive at a predefined time before working the minimum number of hours.  The same method should be followed for your writing. Approach it as a job, just one that you really enjoy.
 
So the next time you are faced with a blank page and an unmotivated soul, try setting the timer for just a few minutes and see what happens.  You may end up writing forever.

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Tools of the Trade

Have you seen the movie RV with Robin Williams? In this film, Robin’s character taps out an entire speech on his phone or his laptop while hiding in several different bathrooms from his family. Does that sound realistic?
 
Well, I’m guilty of the same behaviors. I’ve been known to draft a few paragraphs while in the bathroom, out walking the dog, or taking a break from vacuuming while still holding a whirling machine.
 
And in the last few days I’ve used no less than 3 separate devices to work on my manuscripts - my iPad, iPhone, and my PC. But unlike Robin Williams I had rotated using several different keyboards on my mobile devices and I wrote in many unique locations, including the bathroom, by walking around the house, and while inside and outside my home. I even went old school with paper and pencil.
 
I started the morning typing out my word count while I listened to the rain fall as I sat on my couch. Later, I moved to the kitchen table next to a slightly open window where I could feel the breeze as I formed my story. When the clouds had gone, I moved outside to write some more. I felt very energetic by rotating locations and by being outdoors.
 
I’ve noticed my muse loves variety in writing and the flexibility that comes with that kind of change. Creating in varying styles and locations leads to inspiration.  Writing using the same method and in the same location can stifle your imagination and decrease your desire to work.
 
If you find yourself in a rut and facing the dreaded writers block, try using a different device to log your sentences or craft in a new location.  Your muse may thank you for the change!

 

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Whisper Marketing

When promoting my first couple books I would make a big noise to anyone that would listen. I took part in radio interviews, podcasts, wrote blogs, did book signings and presentations, and heavily marketed every event and product on my website. You might say I yelled my message to anyone within ear shot. The results did not exceed than desired, especially given the time I invested.

The following year I published a book in a very small, niche market. Given the odd genre this book was in and the fact that this title didn’t align with my other books nor did it fit my brand I didn’t feel I could promote it alongside, nor the same way, as my other titles, and I didn’t want to. So, I did no marketing for the first few months and my sales reflected that.

Eventually I tried a more targeted approach. I reached out to only a handful of groups and clubs on Facebook in this area and told them about the product. That was all I did. Amazingly, I saw great results within just a few hours.  One could say I whispered my marketing message to the right people.

 That’s the difference in marketing styles. With the later I narrowed my focus on a target audience, made a professional yet simple and lighthearted sales pitch, and let those interested make their move.  And they did – I had more reposts and favorites than other post I had ever written.

As you can see, a whisper can be heard more clearly and by more people than yelling to a large group of people in a gigantic exhibitor hall. You want your message to be clearly heard and understood, not sounding just like background noise.

So the next time you want to market your product in order to gain market share, try a soft approach to your marketing voice, you may be heard loud and clear


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I HATE JANUARY

I hate January! I admit it.

Not because of the never ending snowfall, the below freezing temperatures, nor the poor Ohio driving conditions but because there is so much to do that’s not enjoyable or writing related. 

Many evening hours in this bleak month are spent outside shoveling the driveway so family can make it into the garage at night or out the next morning. (One of these years I'll document how much time is spent with this task.)

In addition to taking down all the holiday decorations, inside and out, you have to box them up and transport them up a flight of narrow and rickety attic stairs. (My family is like the Griswolds when it comes to holidays so we have dozens of oversized boxes of decorations to store.)

The biggest time suck for me is taxes. I spend time nearly every available night preparing the yearly figures so the IRS may consider giving me some of my hard earned money back.

And, yes, I do all this begrudgingly as I have little, to no time, left for writing. Or do I?

If you find yourself short on time for your writing just remember, it's about choices.

Do you want to get thirty minutes less sleep a night? Are you willing to skip the morning news or breakfast? How about spending your lunch break working your craft while shoveling a few bites of food down.

I remember one year I would drive to a nearby park on my lunch break and sit in the back of my van for 45 minutes and write. I had a large word count that year although I wasn’t very sociable. That’s okay as I had a goal and was working towards it through choices I made. While my break seemed rushed I felt energized upon returning to the day job.

Everyone has the same number of minutes in a day. It's how you choose to use them that makes the difference, not the other tasks on your list. Some items do take priority, like Uncle Sam’s needs, but there are many chores we have choices in.

With that said, it’s now February and my taxes are filed, the decorations stored, and I’m back to my normal writing schedule. Maybe next year I'll skip putting up the decorations and sit in a barren room and write, although I’m not sure how well that will go over with the kids.

How do you make your writing a priority and fit it into your schedule?


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From Idea to Book, Easily

Last year I gave a presentation on taking a vague idea and adding to that theme, through several simple steps, to create a completed manuscript rather easily that can be edited then published. The trick is planning.
 ​
As many authors will attest, the best way to write a book is with a well-planned OUTLINE or story arc. Having this roadmap available to you eliminates writers block, as you always know what you’ll be writing, and can decrease the time is takes to complete your manuscript since you won't slow your pace wondering what will happen in the next scene.
 
Let’s look at the first step, START WITH A BROAD IDEA.
What’s your vague idea for a book? For this article we’ll take the example of a young boy going away to school.
 
Your next step is to CREATE SUB-STORIES under this main idea, such as buying school supplies, the first trip to the school, and meeting new classmates and teachers just to name a few. These points can become chapters.
 
Also DECIDE  WHERE AND WHEN DOES THE STORY TAKES PLACE. This is known as setting. Let’s choose London, England and present day.
 
We also need to decide WHO WILL BE IN THE STORY. These are your characters. Giving your characters names, backgrounds, and feelings will help you create a believable story. If you can see, hear, and understand these fictitious people then your readers will too. Let’s choose names of: Fred, Harry, George, Ron, and others.
 
Now, let’s MAKE THIS STORY UNIQUE. Our example won't be about an ordinary school, it’s going to be a magic school for wizards. 
 
See how we did that? We took a very mundane and relatable story idea, added some supporting facts, and punched it up to something that many will find exciting which you can turn into a book that many could buy.
 
As any writer will tell you, the job of story creation is hard and lonely. Most never finish their dream of being published. That’s why it’s important to HAVE A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION AND SUPPORT. You can achieve this through online blogs, a writers group, or family and friends.
 
Also know that the process takes a great deal of time. But if you SET WRITING GOALS you will know how much longer it will take before you reach the end. If you do not track your efforts the work may feel like it's dragging on forever.
 
One last planning step in the process of story creation is how will you create and store your words.  Many prefer blank journals in varying styles, everything from lined yellow legal notebooks to handmade moleskin journals. Others prefer a typewriter, laptop, desktop PC, or even a smaller electronic gadget.
 
Using this presentation as a guide, I combined all these topics – a fillable outline, inspirational comments, writing goals and targets, and lined pages – into one product that is easily toted around for instant access when you are ready to create - The Writer’s Guided Journal & Notebook.
 
The goal of this book is to assist aspiring writers in the challenging journey to write and complete a story. If you need some direction in your writing then take a look at this product or at least consider a similar method.
 
If you have a story in you, get it out! No matter what means you use to write and no matter how long it takes, keep writing and don’t give up! Look for inspiration and support everywhere and whenever you need it.

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The Dreaded Red Pen

Remember in school how your teacher would use a red pen when grading your papers, tests, and quizzes? Seeing the page covered in crimsoned circles and check marks would make me nauseous.

Now that I’ve passed my classes and a tad bit older, I love red pens! Yes, they are generally still used to represent errors but I see their role in a different way. These blood-colored marks no longer represent failures in my writing and low scores on my exams but rather opportunities to improve my craft before it’s presented to the world for all to see, and hopefully buy.

One of the biggest problems with many independently published works, and some traditionally published, is poor grammar and spelling. That’s where the red pen comes to the rescue!
When I’m editing my own work I find printing it and working from the paper more efficient and beneficial than reading it on a screen. You acquire a more accurate feeling for the flow of the pages and the story. And you get to use that red pen!

I even pay someone to tell me my work stinks!

Money spent on an editor is extremely worthwhile. It’s hard for a writer, even an educated one, to see errors in their writing given how close and familiar to their work they can be. I can usually find a mistake in my own work even after reading it a dozen times. This further illustrates how your mind can read one thing yet see it as another, ie read it wrong and see it right.

If you do have your work reviewed, which I wholeheartedly hope you do, make sure it’s a professional editor and not just a friend. You want valuable feedback and not just compliments.

Just because someone can read and speak doesn’t mean they are capable of finding written errors on your pages and has the ability to point them out. When I first started writing I asked a voracious reading family member to proof my manuscript, before I sent it to the editor. What came back from her was hardly worth my time to review.

Do you dread constructive criticism? Does the color red make you cringe? Turn a new page in your writing career and come to love the editing phase and the red pen.

 

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A Writer's Goal

At the last NorthEast Ohio Christian Writers Conference I was approached by a writer. She asked if I would review her manuscript to see if it was worthy of being published. The non-fiction document was over 50,000 words, included an intensive biography of cited works, and was a well formatted manuscript.
 
I asked what her goal was for this body of work and she replied to have a published book as a legacy for her and her family. After hearing this I handed the pile of papers back and stated I was absolutely sure it should be published.
 
Don't allow your life to be dictated by what others think, in writing or otherwise, especially if the person is not your ideal audience or reader. If you find the information you’ve written interesting chances are there are others in the big world that do too.
 
Her goal was to have a book in print. With the great technology we have today she can achieve that goal easily and quickly. There's no need to spend years querying editors, agents, and publishers, nor requirements for large outlays of money, nor others to dictate how your story will end, what the character names will be, or the final title of the book, yet there is a global opportunity for success.
 
Having a clear goal will guide your work.
 
If you want to write the next blockbuster or viral book then you will definitely focus more on the responses from beta readers, professional editors, and leaders in that genre.
 
Regardless of desired outcome, always assure your best work is accomplished. Look to paid editors and proofreaders and consider professional artists for covers and interior graphics. These individuals are well worth your money.
 
So what's your writing goal and how close are you to achieving it?
 
Email me, I look forward to hearing from you on how your writing journey is progressing.

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Should You Go To A Writer’s Conference?
Should you attend a writer’s conference?

Regardless of the stage in your writing life my answer is a resounding YES!

There are many reasons to attend such an event. These motives are different for each writer, and change from year to year and conference to conference. 


Differing Perspective

No one conference is the same as another. While the format may be the same the material and presentation will differ, just like each book has its own voice even if the topic is the same. You may find one year you learn more than another year or that the conference on the east coast of the United States has a different feel than one in Ohio, California, or Alaska. Additionally, different groups focus on varying topics or genres.  Don’t stop at one conference, try many.

Presentation Preferences
One event may have multiple break-out sessions that will require you decide what you want to learn. While that may give you options it may also limit what you hear as you can’t be in two places at once. Some sessions may be presentations, while others are roundtables, or even nothing but a Q&A gathering. You may learn more from certain styles over others.

Networking
Five years ago, as an unpublished writer, I went to my first event, the North East Ohio Christian Writer’s Conference. I had very little knowledge about writing, editing, publishing, distribution, marketing, a multitude of other areas, and I had no friends nor associates in the business. But this first event changed all that! I met a group of writers, the International Writers Association, that had a wealth of knowledge and information. I joined and have belonged ever since.

Personalized Information
Sometimes the most impactful material isn’t from a presenter but from a one-on-one conversation you had in the hallway between sessions or over lunch with a stranger. That big idea could be a tip on the best way to market your bee-keepers book, format your space travel novel, or how to get rid of butterflies before speaking. You may have to stretch past your comfort zone and talk to others to gain this advantage but it’s so worth the effort. Make it a goal to talk to at least two people you don’t know. At my last conference I met two different writers that dressed up as Santa during the holidays! 

Energy
There’s nothing like a room full of like-minded people, all eager to learn! The energy is contagious and can spark increased motivation for your own work. Seek out positive individuals to help drive your muse.

Variety
At some writer events I’ve given presentations or sat on panels, others I’ve only attended as a paid guest. But every time I’ve learned something useful for my craft or business and generally can help other writers with their hurdles. I look forward to attending the next event and can only image how I’ll be impacted or in what way I’ll help another.

The NEOCWC’s annual conference is next month in Ohio! Pre-registration is not necessary so just show up if you’re in the area. If you missed this year’s event mark your calendar for the next presentation or look for other events in your area.

Have you attended a writer’s conference? How did it impact you?

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Writing and Taxes: The income and expense side of the writing craft.

Have you earned your first dollar from your writing?

Do you have any expenses yet related to your manuscript?

Are you UNSURE of both?

Just because you have no income doesn’t mean you haven’t incurred expenses that you can claim on your tax return.
 
Long before your first royalty check is mailed to you, or automatically deposited to your account, there are items to consider, prepare, and plan for.
 
Start preparing your business by filing the proper documents with your government to show your company or side business or pen name (fictious name). That may cost a few dollars, if so save your receipt.  This isn’t something that is always required, but if you do spend money you need to prove it.

Also, look to open a checking account only for writing purposes. This will help you separate your money from the income and expenses of your writing. Do not comingle writing funds with your day job salary or bills. This will assist you in assuring a profitable enterprise.
 
Invariably, expenses happen before income.  This is supported by the old business adage you need to spend money to make money.
 
Expenses are the opposite of income, and Uncle Sam likes to know about both when it comes to your business.
 
The mileage for trips back and forth to the post office to mail your query letters needs to be tracked, as well as the receipt for that postage. Possible even the paper and enveloped used, the cost of toner and the printer, and the software purchased to draft the cover sheet. Did you have lunch with a potential publisher? That might be a deduction!
 
Note, if you expect to write off expenses for a particular item or cost then you may need to only use that item 100% of the time for your writing. In other words, you can't deduct your car payment if you only drove five miles that month for writing purposes yet drove hundreds for pleasure. When your vehicle is only driven for the business of your writing then you can consider it for full tax deduction.
 
I keep a file folder and envelope with all my tax documents I collect throughout the year. As any item crosses my desk that involves money I make a note of the reason or purpose on the receipt and place a copy into this folder. I also have a mileage log and enter details on every writing related trip - such as date, where I went, the purpose, and the distance. Each mile driven can decrease your taxable income by approximately a half dollar.
 
Are you receiving royalties from publishers, income shares from others who sell your work, or from personal sales? You may receive year to date tax statement for some of these business partners but not all. It’s your responsibility to assure you keep diligent records of all sales and income.
 
Did you pay to have your book edited, formatted, published, or printed? Some costs are large enough that it may be beneficial, or required, that you spread the deduction into parts over several years rather than all at once in the current tax year. An accountant can guide you professionally.
 
So remember, every penny that you earn and spend must be accounted for.  This can save you money in taxes and preparation of the same.
 
As the poet Thomas Tusser wrote in 1557:
"A foole and his money be soone at debate: which after with sorow repents him too late."
 
Looking for some advice on the financial side of your writing? Just ask.

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New Year's Resolutions and Goals

It’s said that if you don’t know where you’re going you are bound to get there.

In other words, without a goal you can’t accomplish your desired objective or reach your destination. So…

What are the goals for your published book?

For some, having a book in print is a writer’s ultimate goal.

There’s nothing wrong with that desire. It’s a measurable result and by no means is an easy task. Having a book in print can be a source of pride for one’s entire life and for family for many generations.

A few writers set their sights on awards, recognitions, or mass presentation in magazines, newspapers, or contest lists.

This goal requires scheduled promotions, key submission in a timely format, repeated follow up contact, or a laser focus on short term sales over multiple platforms; sometimes all of these items must be performed!
 
Others have a specific dollar amount of sales or income in mind. That may be a smaller, specific amount, such as a child’s tuition payment, rent, a vacation, or even just enough to pay for a daily coffee where they write.
 
More driven writers want to earn a full-time career from their work. This will allow a person flexibility in when hours are worked, how many, and which jobs are taken.
 
After the book is published, each of these additional goals requires keen knowledge on the next step to get to the finish line.
 
What do you need to reach that final goal? Do you need to elicit the help of a paid marketing? Do you need to spend money on paid advertising? Would hiring a social media expert be useful? Does your book need an updated cover, better webpage, or editorial help?  
Do you know your next step?
To help in this journey, several smaller targets may need to be made. Much like writing a book, it’s easier to focus on completing a chapter rather than the entire manuscript.

What are the goals for your writing in the new year? Let me know! 
Do you need assistance in reaching those? Contact me for help.​

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 What’s NaNoWriMo and How Can It Help Your Writing?

Say the word ‘nanowrimo’ in public and most people will look at you with a crazy expression. If you say this to other writers then you may receive cheers, smiles, and laughter! 

So WHO is NaNoWriMo anyhow?

NaNoWriMo is an Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words (the minimum number of words for a novel) in ONE MONTH. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to get people writing and keep them motivated throughout the process. There are millions of writers from all over the globe that have participated.

HOW can NaNoWriMo Help your writing?

There are many hurdles while writing a novel, or a manuscript of any length.  There are also a multitude number of ways to overcome these challenges. NaNoWriMo provides direction, instruction, and motivation through video, emails, chats, and even local, live events.

WHEN is NaNoWriMo?

The event is held annually from November 1 until the deadline at 11:59PM on November 30, although they do have several smaller events throughout the year.

WHERE can I find  NaNoWriMo?
Everywhere and anywhere, although the event is primarily hosted online at www.NaNoWriMo.org.

WHAT should I do to prepare for NaNoWriMo?

All you must do is have an idea for a story. From there you can “pants” your novel.
If you’re worried you can't come up with the desired word count easily then outline your story. Start with the beginning, add some situations and conflicts and challenges, then decide on an ending. Need a little more help with your storyline? Check out my book, the Writers Guided Journal and Notebook.

If you are already working on a project then good for you. If you want a break from that title for some hard hitting, fast creative word counts then try NaNo! 

I'll be spending November working on a new title. I know the work won't be publishable by December 1st but that's not the goal. The target is to create a large body of words that can be edited into a marketable product during those thirty days.

So what's your story? Will you join me in November, at a live or virtual event?
Contact me with comments or questions.


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POST-NaNoWriMo - Where do you go from here?
With NaNoWriMo coming to a close it’s time to end your story, figure your word count, and congratulate yourself on a month of writing!

Did you reach the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words?

While I have never ascended the mountain of words that 50k would be, I do finish the month with a solid foundation of a story. And having this goal, writing focus, and NaNo support system really helps make the time productive and fun. Isn't fun the reason we write? 

Throughout this month did you participate in a write-in event? A sprint write? Did you attend a virtual presentation or discussion?

After years of longing I attended my first NaNo write-in event. It's very exciting to gather with other writers in a room to do nothing but work on our craft, but the silence can be very awkward.  I managed 2,000 words in that few hours sitting with my back to the group while headphones played ocean waves in my ears. People literal came and went from the room yet I was unaware, it was just me and my characters on the page. I was alone in a group. It was a nice change of pace to write outside my solitary office though. 

Regardless of your path or events attended the big question is ‘did you advance your writing in November’. I can say, irrespective of my word count, that November energizes me as a writer. I find my dedication is increased and I enjoy the writing more. Because of these two items I tend to accumulate more completed sentences.

And remember, writing the draft is the easy part!

So what should you do on December 1st after the month long writing event? I suggest you relax.

Many authors will tell you once a manuscript is written to let it sit for some time before coming back to it. Writing can be hard work and continuing the effort can have negative consequences. Allow the characters, setting, and storyline to mull in the back of your mind. When you once again work on your manuscript you may find not only a renewed passion but that the characters have ventured off into a new area that can provide additional prose.

When you’re ready, read through the pages and start the clean-up of sentences, filling in plot holes, and adding missed descriptions. Chances are entire paragraphs or even pages may be deleted from your manuscript. That's alright! Your goal is to transform the draft into a publishable work. Don't rush it. Put in the needed time so your story is solid before the next steps. I will generally read through my manuscript at least a dozen times before having a proofreader, editor, or beta tester glimpse the words. 

Above all, have fun with the process!

Contact me if you need help with your next step.

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How Writing Software Improved My Writing Process

I come up with story ideas, dialog, and conflict situations for many different writing projects all the time, no matter where I am. Inspiration may strike me while I’m walking my dog, waiting to checkout at a store, sitting at the beach, or just watching television. I've even edited dialog while in a women's dress store waiting as my wife tried on clothes.

It's become obvious, due to many forgotten thoughts, that I need to jot these fragments down right away or risk losing them to the unknown gray matter area where they came from.  That’s why having the tools to make notes, regardless of location or time, critical.

Over the years I would email myself these potential tidbits of gold to later be worked into my electronic manuscript, which I created in Microsoft Word.

About a year ago I purchased the writing software Scrivener, after taking advantage of their free trial. This product has some very powerful features for story drafting but it could only reside in one location, on my PC. Given this structure I still needed to email myself these reminders when I wasn't at my desk.

Recently, Scrivener came out with a version for mobile devices. Reluctantly I put my digital currency on the table and downloaded the app. It took me a week to tweak the controls so that I could access my manuscript from all my devices -my PC, iPad, and iPhone. Each now has the exact same version of my work!

Now, when I get an idea for a new chapter, I can insert it directly into my software and the working document. If that item needs to be moved to a different area of the story, I can simply drag that block where I want it.

The software also comes with word counters, so you can stay on track with writing goals, impressive formatting options, and many slick display choices. This is definitely not a simple text application. There is also an option for voice dictation! I regularly use this option when I am walking or doing something else and want to take quick notes handsfree. There are hundreds more features available that I haven't used, yet.

I even drafted this article on my phone while traveling from Cleveland to Myrtle Beach! I later edited the document on my iPad while sitting poolside then submitted it to Loconeal Publishing on my desktop version after my trip.

Overall, I feel my writing process has been momentously improved through the combined use of these two Scrivener products (sold separately), and I can't image going back to the way I used to work, sometimes with paper and pencil.

If you are a writer who is technologically challenged with the process of our craft, then check out the many writing software options on the market and chose the one that fits your lifestyle.

Learn to use electronic media to increase your writing efficiency while working to produce the next great story.

How do you use Scrivener or the program of your choice? Let me know!

 
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How to Gain Writing Inspiration From Books

I was at a local bookstore, sitting in one of those comfy wing-backed chairs, reading On Writing by Stephen King. My latte was nearly gone and I had just finished the chapter where King explains the background for his book The Stand and where his ideas and storyline originated from. I leaned my head back and closed my eyes and tried to picture his apocalyptic world. For several minutes I entertained this thought, then grabbed my cup, took the last sip, and headed out of the store.

As I left the mini-mall I noticed it wasn’t so ‘mini’ anymore. These shopping destinations now more resembled a small community. “Malls,” I said. “The blight of humanity.” But, what if they were are also a saving grace for the future? These self-contained ‘biospheres’ have everything needed to survive a post-war situation.

Inspiration? Yes!

Now, let’s take this theme and make it a story. This is how you use your imagination and surroundings and stretch them into something exciting. Furthermore, King had just explained to me how you need more than just a story line. You need to be invested in the characters and drawn to their plight.

Ok, think more, I said aloud.

The story will be from a teenager’s point of view. He knows nothing of the history of this wasteland but the stories he’s heard from his grandfather which he mostly dismisses as senile tales. But what if some are true? How would that motivate a person?

 I need action, I push myself. What trouble can the kid get into?
I let my imagination run back to my childhood and think of the activities I experienced then twist them to fit this dystopian setting.

I find, as I allow myself to be creative and consider ideas that are stranger than fiction, the ideas flow and many situations and conflicts come to my mind.

I didn’t anticipate one crazy thought would be novel, only a fun side-project to test my craft. Maybe something free to give-away on my website. But upon continued contemplation, I can see this being an entire series of books.

For now, I continue to make notes of ideas for characters, setting, plot and conflict for future use when I can properly dig into this project before I continue work on the titles I already have in progress.
What new ideas or storylines have you come up with from viewing everyday life?

 
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 What to do when your writing gets stuck

What’s a writer to do when they are stuck in their writing process?

And by stuck I mean really, really without a clue on the next step or how to solve a problem. This isn’t about writer’s block, which doesn’t exist (more on that in an upcoming post). This is about technical issues that prevent your work from being completed.
 
I had specific ideas and wants for my latest product, the Design Your Own Golf Course Sketchpad. One of the desired features to be in the book were pages of sample architectural landscape symbols to guide the reader in the creation process. I researched and planned for months what would be listed and how it would be presented. I then struggled a few more months in trying to bring my vision to completion. At an impasse, I leaned back in my chair and calculated my choices.
 
I could pay a professional artist to create this minor item, I could pay for several online graphics and combine them to achieve my desired result, or I could personally hand draw each symbol. I didn’t have the level of artistic ability I needed to perform the work myself and the costs for the other options were too high given the goal and budget for the book. I eventually settled on removing the samples! Did this removal of text lower the value or use of the book? No. It only affected my original idea, and isn’t the concept of a draft to be edited and changed?
 
Another hurdle I had with this project was the footers for the printed book. I wanted nearly a dozen footer options on differing pages. Again, after struggling for weeks I took a step back to consider my options. I could pay a professional editor, contact the local schools for help, or decrease my standards and use the same footer for all pages. Again, I didn’t want to spend loads of money on this book, the schools were out for the summer and my kids didn’t know how to accomplish this, and I wasn’t willing to shortcut my artistic goal. So, taking advice from my previous publisher, I started on a new sheet of paper and recreated the entire project from square one to achieve my goal. This took only a fraction of the time I had spent trying to reformat my existing manuscript.
 
Sometimes, you have to spend the big money in order to have a professional product. This is especially true with cover designs, editing, and formatting. Other times you can do the work yourself to save costs or achieve a very specific end, or not do it at all.
 
Often you need help! A self-published author doesn’t mean you perform all aspects of writing, editing, formatting, publishing, marketing, promoting, accounts, etc. alone. Being an indie author means you are the boss, and that means hiring and firing staff to accomplish your end result.
 
Always you will need to make tough business decisions about your writing and your business. The decision on how much time you’ll spend writing, taking away from other parts of your life is the biggest. Are you willing to give up a movie night to finish that chapter? And how much money are you willing to invest to have a professional product?
 
The next time you have a challenging situation consider if you can do the work yourself professionally, if you can or should hire help, and if what you’re trying to accomplish is even needed. Remember the costs associated with each task and if the costs for outsourcing will be outweighed by the results.
 
Do you have a situation that’s perplexing you? Contact me if you want a fresh perspective.

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Where you can find HELP on your writing journey?

New writers just starting their literary journey generally find themselves lost and in need of directions. Don’t feel bad if you experience this, it happens to everyone! The important thing is not to roam around aimlessly but to stop and seek assistance. Even authors who have traveled the same road many times can benefit from local knowledge as new advice can save you time and provide a better view or easier drive.
 
A simple ways to assure safe passage to your destination is to join a writer’s club. Much like the American Auto Association, you can receive education and guidance, generally in exchange for financial dues. Before my first book, The Golf Rules, was published, I joined IWA, the International Writer’s Association, and am still a member and regularly take advantage their services. I hear about the latest tricks, useful websites and software available, as well as receive suggestions on many writing, publishing, and marketing topics.
 
Another way a newer writer can receive help is by attending writer conferences. In Ohio, a local event I’ve participated in the last several years is the NorthEast Ohio Christian Writer’s Conference. This event has varying topics on writing, editing, publishing, marketing, social media, and on and on. You may find a multitude of choices near you and each conference will have a different feel, focus, and schedule, not to mention varying costs, so do some research on the agendas and benefits for all the options in your area.
 
Another avenue for help are writing critique groups. These are more informal get-togethers where writers exchange ideas or manuscripts with others to review and provide input. As with conferences and other groups, make sure the organization is a good fit for you. Not all writers are published authors, nor know the best way to market or craft a story, or write in the same genre or writing style as you might. This may cause friction and you may receive unjust, non-useful, or accurate feedback. And one thing that can be said of most writers is we do not like criticism of our work.
 
Hopefully this little roadmap can help guide you on a writing path to Publishville. While the journey can be long and lonely, there are others you can meet alongside the road, or share a ride with if you just stop at the next available exit and seek them out.
 
If you are still unclear on which road to take just contact me. I’d be happy to tell you give you some directions.
New writers just starting their literary journey generally find themselves lost and in need of directions. Don’t feel bad if you experience this, it happens to everyone! The important thing is not to roam around aimlessly but to stop and seek assistance. Even authors who have traveled the same road many times can benefit from local knowledge as new advice can save you time and provide a better view or easier drive.
 
A simple ways to assure safe passage to your destination is to join a writer’s club. Much like the American Auto Association, you can receive education and guidance, generally in exchange for financial dues. Before my first book, The Golf Rules, was published, I joined IWA, the International Writer’s Association, and am still a member and regularly take advantage their services. I hear about the latest tricks, useful websites and software available, as well as receive suggestions on many writing, publishing, and marketing topics.
 
Another way a newer writer can receive help is by attending writer conferences. In Ohio, a local event I’ve participated in the last several years is the NorthEast Ohio Christian Writer’s Conference. This event has varying topics on writing, editing, publishing, marketing, social media, and on and on. You may find a multitude of choices near you and each conference will have a different feel, focus, and schedule, not to mention varying costs, so do some research on the agendas and benefits for all the options in your area.
 
Another avenue for help are writing critique groups. These are more informal get-togethers where writers exchange ideas or manuscripts with others to review and provide input. As with conferences and other groups, make sure the organization is a good fit for you. Not all writers are published authors, nor know the best way to market or craft a story, or write in the same genre or writing style as you might. This may cause friction and you may receive unjust, non-useful, or accurate feedback. And one thing that can be said of most writers is we do not like criticism of our work.
 
Hopefully this little roadmap can help guide you on a writing path to Publishville. While the journey can be long and lonely, there are others you can meet alongside the road, or share a ride with if you just stop at the next available exit and seek them out.
 
If you are still unclear on which road to take just contact me. I’d be happy to tell you give you some directions.

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 Writing Poorly is Perfect!

I always yell at my children that the goal of household chores is not to just finish the task but to finish it with great results. This concept alludes them as, somehow, they are able to “clean” the counters without removing all the debris. After they finish this task, the surface isn’t presentable nor professional.


This same focus doesn’t apply with writing a story. In the drafting process, the goal is to simply finish, regardless of how well the completed project is. During this step you don't stop to correct a typo or clean a plot issue that you might have missed. You just keep going until you have the entire story on paper.

Writing without editing is quite hard to do.
You would think that writing without correcting known errors is easy but I constantly have to remind myself to not fix a blaring error that I typed just five seconds ago and to continue documenting the story. You can, however, type a note or reminder to yourself or even restate the same concept in writing it a different way.

Let’s say you are writing some dialog between a teacher and a student. You jot down a quote from the child yet you know the language is at a level above what that youth would say. Rather than stop, go back to that line, contemplate a better worded phrase, and edit the same you would just type something similar to “rework kid’s comment” or “lower reading level of text”. Type the words that will remind you to make a change during the editing phase.

Can’t think of that perfect word?
Every writer, while drafting their story, has that moment when the word they are looking for to complete a sentence eludes you. Rather than stop your train of thought, spend time in a thesaurus, or call a friend for their input, just write a key phrase or word of your design. One of the editors at Loconeal Publishing uses the word “pumpkin” when he can’t think  of the proper phrasing. This is his code used as a reminder to revisit this area. You can use any phrasing you prefer, just make it unique.

​Do you have any tips or tricks when it comes to drafting your work? If so, share them below!


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What Makes A Successful Book Event   

I was recently part of a local authors event at a nearby library. There were a dozen other authors present and many people attending. For hours I maned my table and showed the results of many lonely hours of work.

Was the event successful?  That depends on how you define success.

~I had the opportunity to interact with the patrons.
I educated readers that walked by, presented my books, and talked about my brand.
I heard many great personal stories that revolved around golf, my chosen genre. These tales give me ideas for future books and articles.
I had people approach that had purchased my books in the past, each provided positive comments after reading the stories, which makes me feel like I’m making a positive difference.
I gave out several business cards and planted the seeds for future sales.

~I had the opportunity to interact with the other authors.
I greatly enjoyed talking to the vendors when time allowed. I picked up new tips for my table display, saw where my presentation exceeded that of others authors, met new friends, found a new book to read, and enhanced my author network.

~I had the opportunity to interact with a new business.
Talking with the librarians at this library, which I hadn't visited before, helped get my name and brand out more into the world, further increase my professional network, and create another opportunity for future sales.

I had no books sales that night so there was no money in my pocket to cover gas to get to the event, nor to pay for the cappuccino I purchased to sip while behind my table, but I felt as if I took away more from the event than I gave.

To me, it was a successful book event.

What is success to you?

Do you only gauge success through sales?
I've had events where I lost hundreds of dollars yet they opened the way for years of business relationships that were profitable.

How much do you value each experience?
Learning the right or wrong way to respond to a situation can be invaluable and a difficult lesson to learn through non-interactive situations.

Before you mark down each event in the win or lose column based on your bankroll, consider your intangible gains.

What's your biggest gain that wasn't tied to money?
Email me, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


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How To Turn One Book Into Several and Earn Income From Each


Are you an author with only one book in your backlist and interested in making the most income from that single story?

Some authors state they only have one title published and that they can’t earn much income from that singular item but one written story can easily become multiple streams of revenue.  Check out these potential sources of revenue based off your book.

​eBook
Publishing a book in the electronic book format is the baseline for many authors and some will only produce in this format.  Genre also plays a part in how readers consumer your work. Some books may not work as an eBook, a coloring book for example, while others are primarily read electronically.

While there is a great deal of book consumption in the virtual world don’t overlook other formats.

Paperback
For me, more than half of my income come from paperback sales. I, personally, prefer a physical book in my hands to reading on my mobile device.
 
Hard Cover
It’s interesting how many people prefer a hard back book. I find that less than 1% of my sales are in hard cover format but it’s good to have that option available for picky readers.

Audio Book
The audio book segment is gaining a lot of market share with so many people traveling vast distances daily and unable to read while doing so. Technology has made it so anyone with a smartphone can record an audio version of their own book. Audio books can garner more income per sale too!
 
Speaking Events
Is there something you can discuss that revolves around your story? Whether fiction or not there are people who love to listen and talk about books. If you have gumption to stand in front of a crowd, or a handful of people, consider this option. Many authors make a large percentage of their income from speaking engagements.
 
Training
Much like speaking event, these are educational focused events that springboard off the material in your published title.  Not only do you earn from sales of the book but also earn additional income for your presentation.
 
Workbooks
Adding one more ala cart item that can be sold with your book are workbooks. Did you write fiction? Try selling a workbook listing the background of the characters, places, and events from your world.
 
Platforms
Don’t forget to list your work on many different platforms! Sure, Amazon has the largest share of sales in the United States but there are other platforms to squeeze out additional units sold from all corners of the planet. 
 
There’s an adage that the first thing an author should do after they have published their initial book is write another. While that does increase your earning potential exponentially, there’s still plenty you can do with a single title while you perfect your follow up title and work to create a box set in all the above listed types of format.
 
How do you make the most out of your titles? Let me know!


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