Writing

Using Research to Craft a Better Book

Research is a must for self-published authors because it shows that you are informed and knowledgeable on a topic, and it gives you instant credibility with potential readers. Don’t think that research is only necessary for nonfiction authors; fiction writers can benefit from doing their homework, too!Magnifying glass

The good news is that when you are writing about a subject that you’re passionate about, researching can be fun and rewarding. Today we present a six-step guide to getting that research done!

1. Read

It’s a cliché that good readers make good writers, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Immersing yourself in your topic (or genre) will inspire you to write your own book. Plus, surveying what books are out there can help you write a book that fills (not falls into) the gaps in the marketplace. Continue reading

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Author Feature

Story of a Ghostwriter

The following are the words of Archway Publishing’s Sandee Hart, co-author of “Nighthawk” with Bill Bowers. Learn more about the book or Bill on his author website and Facebook. To keep up to date with their book, follow Sandee on Twitter. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.

In the Shadows

When my childhood friend Bill Bowers contacted me about helping him write his memoir, I immediately said yes. After all, he was an incredible storyteller and I had spent my life writing in the shadows for others. There wasn’t a lot of glory, and it was hard work, but I was quite comfortable hiding. I guess you could say I was afraid if people knew it was my work they would think it wasn’t good enough. I learned very early on that when you’re not noticed, people don’t bother you. They can’t assassinate your character, your opinions, or your choices. Being hidden is safe because there is no risk, no missed chances and no record of your existence in the writing of others.

Finding the Story

Writing Nighthawk, A Young Airman’s Tour at Clark Air Base with Bill would be the perfect job for me. I was honored to help him recreate his favorite memories centered on the antics and comedic misadventures during his first tour of duty.  What I didn’t expect was that intimacy would become the currency of his memoir.

Bill’s story is about the ups and downs of service, the culture of the Philippines, and the actions of a bunch of kids tossed onto an island paradise. In order to share this narrative, I needed direct access to his thoughts, memories and emotions. In that process, my job was, quite literally, to disappear. I wasn’t writing a biography as an outsider looking in, I was inside connecting Bill’s experiences with his audience. I committed the truest part of me to the pages of his book, and I had to be vulnerable to his thoughts and feelings. Though it was scary, I knew that I was going to give Bill the greatest gift a writer can offer- his story in print.

Emotional Labor

Two months into the writing process, something was missing from the stories Bill sent to me. Why did the stories sound so good when he told them, but seemed mediocre when in print? I came to realize that his emotions, much like my own were hidden. Bill was afraid to, shall I say, go deep. I was okay with that, because, I wasn’t ready either. I wanted his stories to explode on the page the way they did when we talked. Then, a light bulb went off: more like an atomic bomb landed on my head. Exploring Bill’s life invariably led to me exploring my own.  At first, I thought that was a mistake. However, the more I discovered about Bill, the clearer the lens into my own life became. I discovered myself, which in turn allowed me to discover Bill.

Dance of Minds

As a storyteller, Bill imparted meaning. My job was to convey that meaning to others. Each story began to take on more power than the last. Instead of Bill telling his story alone, we were collaborating and creating layer upon layer from shared experiences.  Together, we gave each other a window into our souls. In return, a window opened for readers to do the same. Our work together became a symbiotic relationship. We each had minds of our own and thoughts of our own; but at the same time, we lived the same life.

We’d remind each other daily to not to let the critical voice inside-  the one that said, it can be better than that! — win.  We had to accept that each draft was a piece of trash. Once we could say, that’s okay, telling the story was much easier. We realized that once we got out of our own way, what needed to be written, was written. Then, we’d read over the draft, spend the rest of the day obsessing, and prayed we would not end up dead before we had to completely rewrite chapters or delete the entire book.

Discovery

In helping Bill tell his story, I found my true self.  I found my purpose in life and began to accept those experiences that shaped me- good and bad. The journey included confusion, misunderstanding, doubt and literally re-visiting all my life’s choices. The journey was worth it because like Bill, I came to understand myself. I found truth and I found freedom, I stopped being my own worst enemy! I started accepting my feelings and allowed others to see what I had kept hidden. Life was no longer what  anyone else wanted for me; it became about what I wanted.

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Writing

Where to Write This Summer

Regan Ralston is an offline marketing intern at Author Solutions, the world leader in supported self-publishing. Regan recently graduated from Indiana University, Bloomington with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She also received an honors level certificate through the Liberal Arts Management Program: an interdisciplinary program that incorporates Kelley School of Business courses with a liberal arts education.

A Writer’s Retreat

The summer sun approaches and with it comes plenty of sunshine-filled days. Now is the perfect time to start thinking about warm weather retreats for you and your writing. There are more places to write than just the closest coffee shop! Below are six inspirational locations to take your work and a pen.

Delve into the creativity of a new spot, or return to an old favorite: from natural retreats full of grass, wind, and water to industrial settings like cramped subway stations. Variety is the spice of life. Get up, be bold, and dare to write away from the computer and overly-sweetened cappuccino!

The Park:

Though a standard venue, it’s always inspiring. Visiting the park is a great way to get back to the basics. Because sunshine can interfere with viewing on a screen, the park provides a unique incentive to work the old fashioned way with paper and pen. Nature has provided countless authors with inspiration; visit your local park and join in on a centuries’ old trend.

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.’”
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

A City Center:

Noisy, hot, and crowded – this is the perfect location for people watching. Usually large cities have bustling central locations, such as NYC’s Times Square or London’s Piccadilly Circus. Even small towns often boast a downtown square. Grab a seat, or notate on the go, and soak up all the bustling action for later use in your teeming city scenes.

Water:

A lake, ocean, creek, or puddle – water always has a way of evoking something desperate in us. The way the sunset casts inky silhouettes on the water, the sound of rhythmic waves: water is fresh ink to any author in a rut.

“Life in us is like the water in a river.”
― 
Henry David Thoreau

Under the clouds:

If you’re lucky, the clouds may puppet you a story – if not, just enjoy the view and relax your mind to rejuvenate idea space.

“A Haiku: Midday
Cloud ribbons on wings
Dramatic cerulean sky
A feast for the eye.”
― 
Tara Estacaan

On a train:

Trains are unique, peaceful, and full of old-fashioned romance. Ride the rails into your own writing world.

“The restlessness and the longing, like the longing that is in the whistle of a faraway train. Except that the longing isn’t really in the whistle—it is in you.”
― Meindert DeJong

Museum:

Art, history, and science can act as fuel for the whirling mind. Not only does this environment promote creativity, but museums are often equipped with cafes, plenty of seating, and wifi. Where better to build your legacy than under the gaze of the greats?

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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self-publishing tips

Six Self-Publishing Lessons with Christine R. Andola

The following are the words of Christine R. Andola, Archway Publishing author of “Who Knew?” Learn more about Christine on her author Facebook page. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

Six LessonsChristineAndola

My first book is finally out on the virtual shelves and I’m exhausted! As a skilled writer, teacher, and observer of human behavior (especially my own), I thought it a good idea to write a book about the things I’ve learned in life on my way to becoming forty. Now, I am well on my way to becoming fifty and the adventure continues.

In the spirit of Who Knew? Lessons From My First 40 Years, let me share with you some book writing and self-publishing lessons I’ve learned.

1. Good writing is a given but doesn’t mean a thing.

There are millions of ghostwriters out there making functionally illiterate people look smart. For the same as the price of a good pair of shoes, you can hire an editor to clean up your work. If you have something to say, write a book. The actual writing is the least of it.

2. Clean copy matters. 

While it is not important that you take a stance on the Oxford comma, it is extremely important that it is used correctly in your manuscript. Errors make it difficult for people to read your book . Most of us take the easy way out, therefor your book will not be read if it is full of commas splices and fragmented sentences. Typos are extremely distracting to a reader.

3. What happens after the writing is crucial.

To many, writing a book is an enormous undertaking. Actually, writing a book is the easiest part of the self-publishing process. Getting through the tasks between writing and seeing your book on the shelf is the hard part. Regardless, these are the necessary steps in order to call yourself a published author.

4. Creative control is a lot harder than it looks.

One of the benefits of self-publishing, or assisted publishing, is that you maintain control of your creative work. You get to make all the decisions about how your book is produced and what it looks like. Rather, I should say, you HAVE to make all the decisions. Before going through this process, I had no idea that interior book design was a thing – it is. There are many design elements you will be asked to decide on: color scheme, cover graphics, key words, and a bunch of other things you are probably not familiar with.

ChristineAndola25. It’s a good idea to choose favorites.

When it is time to get into the publishing part of the project, survey the market and choose your favorite books. Pick as examples books and authors you would like to emulate who sell well in your genre. These books are examples of what people are buying. Use them as references for everything from interior layout to front matter. Every time I had to make a decision, I pulled a book off my shelf to see how someone else did it. Sometimes I compared three examples and created my own hybrid, but at least I had some concrete reference.

6. Ask the experts.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Archway Publishing has a whole staff ready to help you move through the publishing process. They can explain ISBN, page trim, and everything else that comes up. Reach out to other authors in their network who have already been through this process at least once. I found that when you reach out, people are more than happy to help a beginner down the bumpy publishing road.

The post-release adventure is just beginning for me. Marketing my book, planning and starring in book signing events is my new challenge. It is frightening and exhilarating to be a published author, Who Knew?

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Translating Complex Science for a General Audience

The following are the words of Neeti Sinha, Archway Publishing author of “Physical Laws of the Mathematical Universe: Who Are We?”  Learn more about about Neeti on her blog The Magnified Universe. To keep up with Neeti’s latest work, like and follow her on Twitter or Facebook. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

Discovering a Passion

Neeti2I have always found science fascinating. My passion for the pursuit of knowledge started very early in life. During elementary school I began considering the complexities of our existence. I would wonder how we remained tethered to the earth while it zipped constantly in the sky. An insistence on communicating advancements to all audiences is a new aspect of scientific research and development that wasn’t part of the curriculum when I was in graduate school. Society is far more scientifically aware and curious than it was only a few decades ago. Thus, researchers can no longer huddle up in cozy alcoves sequestered from rest of the world. Rather, we scientists have a duty to spread our findings to the public in meaningful ways.

Writing for the General Audience

A scientist can unknowingly carry the same potential as a journalist. This was a revelation which dawned on me as I contemplated writing a book focusing on the intricacies of physics and mathematics. A couple years later, I had in my hands an initial manuscript of my book. Eagerly, I sent out copies for review. Given its general scientific content, I was curious about what readers from non-science backgrounds would feel.

This is where I found myself confounded. The theories and concepts I find utterly beautiful didn’t seem to strike a chord with general readers. This is in no way their own shortcoming. Though from different backgrounds, many readers are eager to understand the ways of the universe and find joy in doing so. I imagine this is somewhat the same as how I relish the fineness of music, yet know nothing of how it is constructed. Non-industry readers weren’t able to fully enjoy the message of my book because the science didn’t translate.

Translating Complex Science

To explain what I mean by “the science didn’t translate”, see the following statement:

All non-trivial zeros of the zeta function have real part one-half.

Researchers and educators within the field find this mathematical phrase alluring. Known as the Riemann hypothesis, the expression itself has become a cliché. As trendy as it is, the hypothesis is quite complex in how it arrives and what it implies. For a reader from a different field, the statement is nothing but jargon. Not only is the hypothesis confusing for a general reader, but it’s quite far from aesthetically pleasing.

The explanation of this hypothesis requires dissection and sub-dissection of all the elements, followed by a sewing of multiple ideas into one smooth story line. Only after careful treatment can any beauty emerge from the Riemann hypothesis in the general reader’s view, an entire book could easily be dedicated to the process.

Learning on the Go

Neeti3After receiving the first round of feedback, I became dedicated to reconstructing my book with a more understandable tone. Following the most helpful suggestions: I cut large sentences into smaller ones and trimmed down on ultra-technical wording. I scaled down the scientific concepts I was hurling, even though it was difficult. The book got better, but it still wan’t “there” yet.

Based on reader’s comments, the key struggle my book seems to face is intelligibility of the writing. The concepts read confusingly because they are complex and abstract, but I love it that way. Therefore, simplifying the content is easier said than done. Watering the science down beyond a point seems like dampening the beauty of it all. This is why I’m still working out exactly how I intend to depict more clearly the reflections of our universe.

It is a struggle, but I am trying.

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

 

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Writing

Creative Exercises to Keep You Going

Whitney Eklof is currently an offline marketing specialist for Author Solutions, the world leader in supported self-publishing. She has a master’s degree in telecommunications from Indiana University, focusing specifically on storytelling across a range of mediums and storyworld creation.  While at IU, she also served as an associate instructor, educating students about writing, storytelling, and other telecommunications-related subjects, and worked as a writer for Indiana University’s Media Team.

Creativity can be hard to come by. Some days we’re just worn out, or we feel we’ve exhausted our creative juices. Writing, an inherently creative process, is no different. There are days we’re just dog-gone out of the dose of creativity we need to keep pushing our story forward. However, we don’t have to languish in our creative void – there are a whole host of creative exercises we can try to get our writing juices flowing again. Below are just a few suggestions, from the obvious to the obscure.

The obvious

Free write: You are probably familiar with this technique. Simply set aside what you’re working on and write. Write whatever comes to mind; write in full on stream-of-consciousness. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar mistakes or that the paragraphs don’t flow together. Just write. Free what’s in your heart and mind and put it on a page – you never know where it’ll take you.

writing-1209121_960_720Read: We are often inspired by others. In fact, that may be the reason you started writing in the first place. Maybe you read a story that sucked you in completely and charged you up to write something of your own. Take some time to go back to those roots. Read something you really enjoy; even better if it’s in the same genre you’re writing in. See how someone else spins a sentence or brings a character to life. Let someone else inspire you instead of trying to will creativity into existence.

Utilize writing prompts: There are hundreds of books and websites full of writing prompts. Whether or not they relate to your book’s subject-matter, taking on a prompt can let your mind roam free. Don’t be afraid to embrace a genre you don’t normally write in either! Writing prompts give you just enough direction to send you down the path to creativity.

The not so obvious

Exercise: When we think about trying to jog our writing creativity, we often focus on writing-related exercises (the obvious ones mentioned above), but exercises unrelated to writing can also help us find the creativity we need to finish that next chapter. In comes the most straightforward exercise of all: exercise. It gets your heart pumping, gets you out of that hunched-over-your-laptop position, and just flat-out increases creativity. Scientific study even supports it!

Meditate: Mindfulness meditation has exploded in popularity over recent years. Mindfulness is about slowing down, taking in your surroundings (and your body), and simply being. It’s a practice about being present, and not letting the distractions of life in. The process of mindfulness can boost creativity as it helps us focus and frees us from worry or tangential rabbit holes.

The obscure

Play: That’s right, play. Sit down with your children, nieces, nephews, pets, or even by yourself and play. Free your mind from stress and worries and just imagine yourself as a princess, a powerful wizard, or simply be your dog’s favorite ball thrower. Play not only incorporates exercise; it helps expand our thinking in new directions. Instead of thinking linearly all the time, we open ourselves to more lateral thinking and associations. You might be surprised at how creative kids can be, they may end up providing the inspiration you needed. Beyond that, play is simply important, whether you’re a kid or an adult.

Restrict yourself: This one probably seems counter-intuitive. You probably imagine creativity is a product of freedom, and sometimes that’s true. However, there is power in restricting yourself, as the story behind the creation of Dr. Seuss’ classic, “Green Eggs and Ham,” demonstrates. By reigning in your boundaries, you’re forcing your brain to work within confines it may not be used to – giving it a new challenge, and forcing you outside of your comfort zone.

Creativity is something we can find in the most unexpected of places, and it’s something essential to writing – no matter if we’re writing a sci-fi saga or a how-to helper. When our creativity wanes, it can bring our writing to a halt, but it doesn’t have to spell the end of our story. There are thousands of creative exercises out there and the ones listed here are but a few. So, please, take some of the ideas listed above and give them a whirl, or share some of your own creative exercises to help a fellow writer out of their creative void.

Write on, fellow writers!

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Author Feature

Words with a Young Writer

The following are the words of Karina Williams, author of “Live, Laugh, Love Like a Teenager.” Learn more about Karina on her author website kwilliamsbooks. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services. 

It Began with a Poem

In my freshman year of high school, I won an Karina WilliamsHonorable Mention in a poetry contest for my school’s literary magazine. Back then, it was terrifying to meet the fiercely intelligent AP Literature teacher assigned to help me edit my first poem to be published. I was only fourteen. Three years later, I found myself sitting in her class getting ready to graduate from high school. That day she asked us all to reflect on one thing: What do you want? I answered her with the first and only thing I could think of…“I want to be a writer.”

Months before publishing my poetry anthology and taking what I believed was the first step to everything I was reaching for, she replied with the one answer I needed to hear. “You already are.”

What “Writer” Means to Me

Being a writer is like being on a journey that never ends. Once a chapter is finished, the next one begins. We live our lives through the worlds we create on paper, all the while hoping that someone else finds as much life in them as we do. Creativity is beautiful thing; I believe it’s a way to create something so honest that you write the words someone else needs to read in that particular moment. That is what writing is about.

Dreams New and Old

Now I’m a freshman in collegeLive, Laugh, Love Like a Teenager pursuing my science degree. Things have have certainly changed a lot since high school graduation. Yet, if someone asked me today what I wanted to be my answer remains the same- I want to be a writer. As demanding as the study schedule is here at Cal Poly, I am still finding ways to chase my dreams. Soon enough, I will be adding an English minor to my degree plans while keeping up with a blog I started as an effort to publicize my book.

Over the publishing process for my book, a friend asked me how I could put so much time and effort into something that might not work out in the end. But I don’t write for things to “work out in the end” … I write because it is everything I am. From the months it took to compile my manuscript, to the day I held the first printed copy in my hands, it was all worth it. It is indescribable to hold a book with my name on the cover in my hands.

What Comes Next

I became a published author as a freshly graduated high school student, and Live, Laugh, Love Like a Teenager is just the beginning. From the hardship of friendship to the adversity of growing up, each poem in the compilation has been inspired by experiences that make me who I am. My book tells the story of youth, vibrancy, and life. I hope to continue telling the story within my next book focusing on the experience of being a young-adult.

In the end, it is all about the story— either telling the truth or the sweetest kind of fiction— and this is everything my heart reaches for in the future. No matter where I end up in the next ten years, if you ask me who I am, I will only have one answer; for it will never change. I am a writer.

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Writing

Writing Advice from Famous Authors

Regan Platt is an offline marketing intern at Author Solutions, the world leader in supported self-publishing. She is currently a senior at Indiana University where she studies English. Regan is in Indiana University’s Liberal Arts Management Program, an honors level interdisciplinary program that incorporates Kelley School of Business courses with a liberal arts education. 

Don’t stop reading.Don't stop reading.

William Faulkner: “Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”

Meaning: Faulkner emphasizes the importance of immersion. If you constantly surround yourself with writing, then you can start to observe both valuable techniques and common pitfalls. As you put to practice what you’ve observed, your own writing will become all the better for it.

Write the book you can’t find.

Toni Morrison: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”               

Meaning: This quote can be read as a call to arms for dreamers and “creatives.” The world would have so much less to read and dream if those with great stories never shared them.

Follow your instincts.

Saul Bellow: “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”                                    

Meaning: Bellow comforts and encourages fellow writers who work in bursts of passion. Inspiration may come at the strangest and least convenient of times, yet when the muse calls it is best to answer.

Beware the predictable.Robert Frost Quote

Robert Frost: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

Meaning: Frost suggests that strong writing occasionally necessitates a stream-of-consciousness technique that leaves only feelings and ideas. This emotional work results in literary moments of ingenuity.

Show, don’t tell.

Anton Chekhov: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Meaning: Our final quote by Chekhov reverberates the traditional writing advice “show, don’t tell.”  Engaging writing leaves a reader to do some of the “visualizing” work themselves. Rather than dully listing the circumstances, great writing will reveal what’s happening in an innovative way.

 

Archway Publishing is always looking for content for its blog. If you’re an Archway Publishing author and would like to share an idea for a guest blog post, please tweet the Archway Publishing Twitter account @ArchwayPub or send us a message at the Archway Publishing Facebook page.

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Writing

Thirteen Mistakes Readers Always Catch – Part One

Finding Mistakes

If you’re reading this, then chances are you’re a writer. And if you’re a writer, then chances are you’ve read a book and set it down in disappointment because you found some mistakes that offend your sense of professionalism.

mistake

We all have.

Worse than finding an annoying blunder while reading is when an error is pointed out in your own work. A person finds a mistake in your work that you somehow missed. This is a mortifying moment. It’s especially annoying because the mistake is usually obvious after it’s been found. We know you hate this sensation and moment as much as we do! Continue reading

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Writing

Four Ways to Manage Your Writing Schedule

Rumor has it J.K. Rowling worked for five years, building the world of Harry Potter and plotting all seven books before she began writing anything. Jack Kerouac reportedly wrote the draft of On the Road in less than a month. How long will it take you to write or finish your book?

The right answer is up to you.

The one thing you will absolutely need is some kind of plan. It doesn’t matter whether your writing plan is a month long or a year long. The time is less important than the plan.

In the post-Four Ways to Manage Your Writing Schedule, Archway Publishing offers 4 easy tips you can use to help you keep to your writing plan, whatever it is.

Click here to read more >>

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