Monday, September 25, 2017

Miscellaneous Monday






Hope this finds you enjoying the first days of autumn! Decided to share a few links in honor of my favorite season. So here goes...

Do you have issues with productivity? Most of us do at some point, right? C.S. Lakin examines reasons why we struggle in this area and offers great insight and solutions in this post, The Life of a Super-Productive Writer.

Marketing and social media can easily overwhelm us. (Or maybe that's just me?) In 6 Key Questions to Ask Before Creating Your Social Media Strategy, the helpful folks at Add This Academy offer questions to help focus on our goals and formulate a customized plan.

Who couldn't use a little writing advice? In The Best Advice for Writers, Gary McLaren offers a great compilation of trends, tips, and links for writers of all kinds - authors, freelancers, bloggers, content  creators, etc. There's a little bit of everything here.

Congratulations to Jennifer Brown Banks of Pen and Prosper! Her blog made The Write Life's 2017 "100 Best Websites for Writers". She's in great company, and those who've visited her blog already knew she was worthy of this honor. Jennifer's topics are relevant and timely; recent posts include Friction with Your Fiction? 5 Ways to Fix It! and 4 Reasons Blog Breaks are Good for the Writer's Soul.

Do you enjoy fall? What's your favorite season? Found any good online resources lately? What's on your to-do list this week?

Happy writing,
Karen 


Photo credit: Pexels

Monday, September 18, 2017

Solving Apostrophe Issues




What trips you up when editing? I find that apostrophes with unusual circumstances can slow me down. The apostrophe's use with contractions is a given, of course, but for certain questionable instances, I use a cheat sheet. I created it for my teen writing students, and refer to it as necessary. Maybe it will be of use to you too:


General apostrophe guidelines:

  • To form a plural of a letter: I got all A's and B's.
  • To form a plural of a number or symbol: 6's or %'s
  • When a word is discussed as a word: The sentence contains too many hey's and dude's.
  • To abbreviate a year: She graduated in '07.

Special possessive situations:

Remember that the owner is the word immediately before the apostrophe. It helps to consider, is it possessive or plural, or is it possessive and singular, or possessive and plural, then follow these guidelines:

  • Singular versus plural possession: the horse's trainer, the horses' trainer
  • Compound word possessives: editor in chief's office, sister in law's birthday
  • Plural compound word possessives: brothers in law's cars (more than one brother in law)
  • For an indefinite pronoun: anyone's guess, everybody's favorite
  • Individual possession: Micah's, Allie's, and Nat's books (they each own their own book)
  • Shared possession: Tim, David, and Becky's book (they all own the same book)
    
And don't forget:
 
Do not use an apostrophe for possessive pronouns: its, yours, ours, his, hers, their


What grammar issues slow you down? Does anyone else cringe when they see the apostrophe misused in advertising? Or maybe that's just me...? 

How was your summer? What are you writing this week? Does it look like fall in your area? Hope you all are doing well! :)

Happy writing,

Karen 


Image credit: Pixabay

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Value of "Pockets" of Time





While brainstorming about how to use my time more efficiently, I was reminded of a tip I gave my three kids back in our homeschooling days. I'd tell them to look for bits of spare time, or "pockets of time", and to use them to their benefit. You see, on occasion, there were bouts of lollygagging and numerous wasted minutes. Imagine that!

(If you aren't familiar, lollygagging, a term my parents used when I was young, means wasting time, procrastinating, sometimes at its most extreme level.)

I'd encourage my gang to use those pockets of time during the day, for example, to read, review spelling words, study for a test, or work on projects. It wasn't all about being a hard taskmaster, I simply wanted to raise their awareness of how they spent their time, and of course, to encourage its wise use, building good habits that would last a lifetime.

Like the kids then, I have plenty of unused pockets of time now, (on hold for a call, waiting for a haircut or dentist appointment, or just hanging out at home, to name a few). And although I like to think I use time efficiently, I still often waste much of it - getting sucked in to social media, etc. So I'm talking to myself here too, just so you know. :)

What items can be accomplished in these moments?

General tasks might include:

  • Sort mail.
  • Plan a menu. 
  • Write a thank you note.
  • Delete unwanted emails.
  • Make a grocery or to-do list.
  • Clean out a junk drawer. (Skip this if going to the salon/dentist or similar. Hauling the drawer along is usually frowned upon,)

Or how about these writing related tasks:

  • Write a book review. 
  • Draft a blog post calendar.
  • List character traits/a sketch.
  • Brainstorm about...anything! 
  • Pen an outline for your next article.
  • Research potential writing markets.
  • Create questions for an author interview. 
  • Conduct research for an upcoming project.
  • Make a list of interesting or unusual words.
  • Review a chapter/article/blog post rough draft.
  • Read bookmarked articles or an online writing newsletter.
  • If out, observe and note the surroundings/people/activities. 

While tasks might not get finished in that particular span, it can lay the groundwork and offer a great head start to new and ongoing projects. I've found this to be an extremely helpful habit, often fitting writing in on the busiest of weeks.

Bottom line - it's about an awareness of how we spend time. It's about balance, too. No need to go overboard, filling every spare minute. We need time to devote to family, friends, and commitments, to think, decompress, daydream, and rest too. These daily segments merely provide opportunities for heightened general productivity.

Have you ever spent time lollygagging around? How do you use your pockets of time? Have any exciting plans for the rest of the summer?

I'm taking a break to work on projects and regroup. Will return on September 18. Have a great summer! :)

Happy writing,
Karen

Monday, July 3, 2017

Sparkling and Celebrating




The plan was to share a sparkling and thought provoking post this week. (Humor me - it would have sparkled in my head, at least for a moment, anyway!) However, I got swept up in the busy tide of activity recently, helping someone move, among other things. I realized late Saturday night that I still needed to do Monday's post. Oops.

Hoping to rest a bit on Sunday, I needed an alternative plan. Since we celebrate the 4th of July, aka Independence Day, this week in the United States, I thought a "Sparkling and Celebrating" theme would make a good substitute.

As for the Sparkling part - our writing can shine upon learning the craft and polishing skills. Do you agree? I enjoy observing, stretching, and implementing techniques during the process.

And as for Celebrating - we have abundant blessings, don't we? There's always something for which to be thankful, and to celebrate. I'm grateful for the saving grace of Jesus, my family, and in particular my husband, whose birthday falls midweek.

Now it's your turn to jump into this theme. :) What makes your writing sparkle? What are you celebrating and thankful for this week?

Happy writing,
Karen

Monday, June 26, 2017

Miscellaneous Monday




How's your summer going so far? Getting much writing done? It's been a while since I shared a few links, so thought the beginning of summer was a good excuse. :) Hoping you'll find one or two that you like.

The Insecure Writer's Support Group site offers great info, blog posts, books, contests, marketing tips, and more. IWSG is all about supporting writers of every level and genre. One recent blog entry is Lynda Young's thoughts on 10 Ways to Maintain Writing Momentum. Good stuff.

The Coffeehouse for Writers offers year round opportunities to stretch writing skills. From fiction and blogging to editing and ebooks, they have an assortment that appeals to writers at most any level. Check out their offerings here.

Though aimed at fiction writers, K.M. Weiland's post, Learn How to Make the Most Out of the 5 Stages of the Writing Process shares valuable insight and tips for other dedicated scribes, too.

Ever wonder how the ISBN factors into publishing?  L. Diane Wolfe, owner of Dancing Lemur Press, provides an overview in Why ISBN Ownership Matters.

How much do you know about authors and literature? Literature Trivia and Quizzes will test your expertise on famous writers, fiction, poetry, and books.

What are you writing this week? Do you have any special summer plans?

Happy writing,

Karen