Experience Writing: This site is about you. Tell me what you want in the new year and a free gift!

This year is all about you!     white flowers round

I recently took a course from Open University Australia called Write for the Web. The course opened my eyes to some fundamental truths about writing. The first truth–seems obvious, but created a shift in my outlook–I am writing for you. To write good content, I need to know what you are looking for when you read this blog and give it to you.

What do you want in the New Year?

So, what is it that you want to explore this year? What would you like to see me write about?

You are writers and bloggers who labor to create blog posts, stories; even novels, and you want people to read them. You are travelers, photographers, crafters and foodies who want to share your passions with the world. What are you looking for when you read this blog? What can I write so you leave feeling satisfied and come back for more?

Starting today, I am adding a fun poll or two to my posts to get to know you better.

 

 Thank you for your answers. I can’t wait for the results.

A new name for a new outlook

To reflect the change of focus from my personal writing experience to your experiences as writers and readers, I have changed the name of the site to Experience Writing. I hope you like it. I think the new name describes the purpose of this site more clearly.

Want to improve your blog or website? Here’s a FREE content check list!

Because I enjoyed the Writing for the Web course  and learned so much, I have a lot of great information to share.

If you want information on how you can improve your content, sign up for my newsletter and you’ll receive a free printable checklist for writing good content for the web.

I want it button

lillyI hope you had a wonderful holiday season and are looking forward to the new year with hope in your heart.

I can’t wait to see our poll results and read your suggestions. I look forward to learning and growing with you in 2016!

Happy Writing

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Avi: Read Good Writing

Murder1Today I discovered an amazing children’s author: Avi. Avi has written over seventy books for young readers to young adults and is still writing. My first foray into his work was a fun historical fiction novel called Murder at Midnight about a magician’s assistant and the magic of the printing press. This evening, I plan to read Crispin: The Cross of Lead  which won the Newberry Award. crispin

Curious to learn about his writing techniques, I was delighted to find that he has a writer’s blog called Wordcraft. It is insightful, candid and full of useful information. I plan on spending plenty of time catching up on the last three years of his posts. He kindly put up a tag index, so I can go through his posts by topic.

I especially enjoyed reading an entry on re-energizing. Avi wrote “There is another way to re-energize, to wash away your author’s eyes of murky fog: read good writing. Not just any writing, but something you admire, that the world has told you is good, that is good.” His writing is my re-energizer today.

Sources For Guided Revision

A grassy path through the woods  Since my first read-through of my novel–in which I could barely read it for all the horrible typos and grammar issues and ended up hating my manuscript–I have been actively avoiding my novel. However, having given myself a strict deadline which is rapidly approaching, it’s time to get to work. As I am still in the early stages of this project, I thought I would look for some guidance to plot my course and hopefully find a call to action.

Searching the tag “revision” in WordPress led me to :

Nicole Dacanay’s blog Team Wanderlust – which recommended Brandon Sanderson’s videos and Susan Dennard’s in-depth information on Revising Your Novel complete with worksheets

and

The Write Shelf  blog – which recommended Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell

While picking up Mr. Bell”s book from the library, I also checked out How I Write by Janet Evanovich with Ina Yalof

Having armed myself with all sorts of new tools, where will I start (after I fix all my typos and address my previous notes)?

Both Susan Dennard and James Scott Bell recommend printing out your manuscript and putting it in a binder. For my first read-through I thought it would help to print it to look like a book, so I printed horizontally with two pages to a sheet, double sided. This time, I’ll still go double sided but with larger print, double-spaced, vertically and put it in a binder. I’ll also print out Susan’s Worksheets to help keep my notes organized.

I think I will start my process by following Susan Dennard’s system supplemented by Mr. Bell’s “The Ultimate Revision Checklist” while keeping a copy of Ms. Evanovich’s “A Rewriting Checklist” close-by.

The most important message from my research today is : Stop sweating the small stuff and start with the big picture. It is more important for me to look at the plot, characters, and scenes in my story, so I need to stop staring at each sentence–that comes later.

Exploring: Kindle Free Downloads – Lots of free books, why not?

Mt. Rainier reflected in Lake TappsSince I’ve been pushing my free kindle download all week, I decided to go explore the free kindle download offerings. I was pleasantly surprised.I now have an eclectic library on my Kindle Cloud Reader. I found children’s picture books. I found books on social media marketing. I found cookbooks. I found an exercise motivation book (which I needed). I found books on speed reading (so I can read all these books really quickly) and of course Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise. Last day, folks. Don’t miss your chance to download it for free!

So with all these fabulous free kindle offerings out there, why aren’t people’s libraries exploding? I have to admit, the kindle cloud reader and library weren’t exactly straight forward to use at first.

When you download a kindle book, it opens in kindle cloud reader while you’re at amazon.com, but when you go back to amazon.com, your kindle cloud reader isn’t on the menu. It is at https://read.amazon.com/. Also, when you search free kindle ebooks in the amazon.com search box, you don’t get the nice selection of kindle ebooks. I finally found them here.

Have fun exploring all the fabulous free books!

Revision: Adding Videos to Your Blog

You can see why I put this under the revision topic, I’m revising my post of Gator McBumpypants’ first movie. Why didn’t I think of this yesterday? So, how did I do it? It was much easier than I thought.

When I clicked on Add Media above my draft’s text box, like I usually do to add pictures, I looked around and in the column on the left I clicked on Insert from URL. In a new tab, I went to the Youtube page for Gator’s video and copied the URL. When I pasted it into the box, TADA!, the video is now playable on my blog. So fun.

Now that Gator McBumpypants and his friend Herman have a youtube page, they wanted to find some fun videos to share. First they subscribed to other children’s books about alligators. Hear are a couple fun book videos:

I tried to change the video sizes so they were about half as big in this post, but assigning height and width in the html didn’t work (I turned off mobile in theme settings as per instructions) Any one know how to change the video size?

This morning I had an idea for other content to add to Gator and Herman’s YouTube page: Alligator crafts! First I thought of origami, but to Herman’s happy surprise, the Pterodactyl origami video was WAY cooler.

The best video for alligator crafts (Gator forgives the artist for saying he drew a crocodile) so far was this one:

One thing I have yet to figure out is how to get the videos I’m following to come up in the right hand column of my video. Does anyone have any advice? I’ve made a favorite videos playlist, I’ve picked out kids book channels to follow, but none of these things are showing up when I play my video. If you’d like to see Gator McBumpypants and friends favorite videos playlist, it is a tab on their YouTube channel here. I’ll keep working on this and update when I figure it out.

While I was searching for fun Pterodactyl kids books, I happened upon this great video and learned something I think I don’t want to know– Pterodactyls Aren’t Dinosaurs!

Of course, I had to immediately do some research and if you wanna listen to Science then hears a link

However, if you wanna keep believin’ hears some info here

I’m not facing facts yet, and I’m not ready to share this with Gator and Herman, so sadly the great video did not get in their favorites, yet.

Another thought on revision– Learn from my mistake. Make sure to pay attention to current events before launching your marketing campaign. Planning my big push the same week as the Ferguson decision, could have been avoided if I was paying attention to current events. I had no idea this could be a factor, but it is what people are talking about and paying attention to (as they should). The story of a cute bumpy stuffed alligator is a bit out of place in that discussion, except for the theme of not being afraid of people different from you. Perhaps that could be part of the discussion with children. That said, when planning a marketing campaign, give yourself enough time to see what else is  happening during your time frame that could eclipse your efforts (again, as it should in my case).

Anyone have other video suggestions for Gator and Herman to add to their YouTube Favorites?

Marketing: A little outside the box.

Gator and Herman's first movie on youtube.com

Gator McBumpypants and Herman’s First Movie is on Gator McBumpypants’ Youtube.com channel.

Since my writing life is completely consumed with promoting Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise this week, I’m jumping off schedule and continuing to talk about promoting your book. I announced my kindle free days everywhere I could think of yesterday, so how do I keep the internet’s attention today?

I stepped away from writing today and explored a couple other art forms. I took some pictures that didn’t get used in the books (book 2 coming soon!) and made a little youtube movie. One of the fun things that you can do with google+ is create a youtube channel. I made one for myself and a separate one called Gator McBumpypants and Friends.

Making the movie in Windows Live Movie Maker was pretty straight forward once I figured out that I could speed up the picture rate by using fractions in the duration box. The hardest part was picking some music since the program didn’t include music editing and just started the music choice from the beginning. Luckily, I have a large library of music I wrote, so I don’t have to infringe on anyone’s copyright.

This first film is just a quick, fun promo. I plan to do more with pages from the book and perhaps reading the first few pages. I’ve seen some really nice book promo videos online. I think video is a great way to get people excited about your book. Check out Michelle R. Eastman’s promo video for The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale. Andy Mulberry did a really nice interview with Michelle R. Eastman on her blog andymulberry.com/blog

I also went over to RedBubble,com and made some Gator McBumpypants merchandise.

Gator McBumpypants baseball shirt from RedBubble.com

What about a fun T-shirt?

Gator McBumpypants tote bag from RedBubble.com

or a lovely tote bag?

A Gator McBumpypants coffee mug from RedBubble.com.

or enjoy your hot beverages with Gator McBumpypants and his friend Herman the baby pterodactyl.

RedBubble is a great site where I’ve set up a portfolio of my photography. They will put my photos on a variety of merchandise including t-shirts, sweatshirts, stickers, cards, pillow covers and the adorable items shown here. All would make great gifts! It is also, yet another social media site with a nice journal entry space where I’ve been letting people know about my kindle free days.

So, to sum up, book promotion doesn’t have to be hitting people over the head with your book and free kindle days announcements, it can be fun promotional art projects that then give you an excuse to go post about them on all your social media sites.

Anyone else found promotional ideas that are a bit outside the box?

Exploring: Guest Posts

A small white rose

Each guest the petal of a flower

As the happy holiday season is now upon us and many writers are wrapped up in NaNoWriMo, time is  sucked away in more ways than usual and I’m guessing many blogs will be quite neglected over the next couple months. This made me think about guest posts. Not only looking to do some myself – gifts of time to my fellow bloggers, if you will- but also to invite bloggers to guest post here.

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know I’ve set up a five day schedule with specific topics for each day and if you are new, here’s what I’m doing:

Monday- marketing, promotion, self-publishing, children’s picture books

A quilt of nature photos

Each a part of the Natural Tapestry

Tuesday- agents, query letters, middle grade fiction

Wednesday- Revision, re-writes

Thursday- Reading, book reviews, book lists, reading sites

Friday- Exploring, writing prompts, adventures, filling the creative well

Want to write on any of these topics? To be a guest writer on this blog, please let me know in the comments or send your post idea to mariaberg@mbercreations.com. Please, original (not previously posted on your blog) posts only. If I get enough interest maybe I’ll add Guest Post Saturday! I’m excited to get your outlook on these topics. Offering a guest post would be a lovely gift to me, to ease my fear and anxiety of running out of time to post while I make gifts, work on publishing the sequel to Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise, get over this stupid cold and try to revise my novel.

I look forward to hosting your fabulous writing and anyone whose interested in trading guest posts, or book reviews, I’d enjoy that as well. ‘Tis the Season for giving and I will do my best to give as much (or more) than I get.