Revision: Overused Words

Whole story word cloudAn important aspect of revision is the hunt for overused words. One good way to do that is to use the “Find” option in your word processor: type the culprit in the find field and see how many times you’ve used it and where it is located. Each writer has different words they tend to gravitate toward. Creating a personal overused word list will become very helpful. I know that I overuse just which I can usually just find and remove. There are many lists of overused words on the internet to help you get started. Here’s an example:

From Claire Fallon’s article in the Huffington Post:

Here are 12 words that have been so overused they really don’t mean anything anymore:

  • literally: Originally meant “in a literal or strict sense,” but is used as a more general intensifier for things that are not strictly true. Because of this, “in a figurative sense,” the exact opposite of the original meaning, has now been added to the dictionary as a definition for literally.
  • unique: Originally meant “unlike anything else,” but is used to mean “different, to some degree, from the standard or the norm.”
  • awesome: Originally meant “causing feelings of fear or wonder,” but is used as a general, positive descriptor like “great” or “cool.”
  • amazing: Originally meant “causing overwhelming surprise or astonishment,” but is used as a general, positive descriptor like “great” or “cool.”
  • totally: Originally meant “completely, in every part,” but is now used as a general intensifier, much like “really.”
  • basically: Originally meant “essentially” or “fundamentally,” but is now used as general verbal filler.
  • incredible: Originally meant “impossible to believe,” but is now used as a general, positive descriptor like “great” or “cool.”
  • really: Originally meant “actually true,” but is now used frequently as a general intensifier.
  • very: Meaning “to a high degree,” we all just need to stop using it in every other sentence.
  • honestly: Originally meant “in an honest and genuine manner,” but is now often used as general verbal filler.
  • absolutely: Originally meant “in a complete and total manner,” but is now used as a general intensifier.
  • unbelievable: Originally meant “impossible to believe,” but is now used as a general, positive descriptor.

I recently read a book that had a serious seemed problem.

“seems”
—This word weakens the sentence it is
used in. If something happens it shouldn’t “seem
to” happen it should simply happen.
                              from slcc.edu
 Thesaurus: seem
Jullianne Q Johnson said this about the word seemed: A new problem word arose, and I blame it on writing reports for a job I had working with at-risk kids. In these reports, we were not allowed to say anything like “Bob was sad,” because we didn’t know it, we were only observers. So we had to write things such as “Bob seemed sad.”  Seemed. Unless one is a lawyer or an eye witness in a court of law, seemed is a very boring word choice. My usage was under 100 times, but I axed quite a bit of them for being too uninteresting to live. If it wasn’t for my word cloud, I wouldn’t have known “seemed” was a problem.
She recommends using a word cloud to find overused words. She puts her whole manuscript into  Word it Out. I decided to try it with the first ten pages of my middle grade novel. Word cloud for first ten pages of My Monster is Better than Your MonsterThat was fun. Hitting the Random Settings button changed the colors and font and the Redraw button changed the arrangement. It looks about right. I’ll head back to my manuscript and “find” looked and like to make sure they aren’t overused.

Marketing: The second book in the Gator McBumpypants and friends series

winter flowersA deep, heart-felt Thank You to everyone who downloaded Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise last week–80 downloads and 4 new reviews!–a very happy return on a free 5-day campaign. Now, hopefully, some word of mouth from the people who read the story can help me keep the momentum going.

This week, my writing life is consumed with publishing the second book in the Gator McBumpypants and friends series, Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly. While I go through the process of getting all the pictures just right, formatting the text, making the cover and uploading to CreateSpace, I’m going to write the step by step guide Publishing Your Children’s Picture Book like I promised. This is the broad outline I’ve come up with:

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Create Space Set-Up
  3. Formatting the Interior Pages
  4. Making a Cover
  5. Review
  6. Kindle Formatting
  7. Distribution
  8. Marketing and Promotion

Have I forgotten anything? Are there other topics you would like me to cover? Please let me know in the comments.

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!

Happy Thanksgiving

Herman rides on Gator McBumpypants' head next to their book.

Herman is thankful that Gator McBumpypants doesn’t eat flying things.

Gator McBumpypants wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. And to the turkey he says,

I don’t eat flying things if that’s what you’re worried about.

Don’t forget to pick up your free kindle download today to share with the whole family!

And for more fun Gator and Herman now have their own theme song and it is now on their video

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.

Revision: Some great tips on youtube

DSC05771

Finding a spark of motivation

Hi everyone. Last week, gnlong so kindly shared a link to a youtube video about revision, Novel Revision: Craft a Story Readers Can’t Put Down a presentation by James Scott Bell. It had a lot of good information and tips for revising a manuscript. Surprisingly, the tip I took away from the presentation was to create a cover for my novel, just for myself. To even create an imaginary blurb/ glowing review to get myself thinking of my manuscript as a finished novel. It’s time to get my mind set on the finished product, so I’ll push through to that end.

I then searched youtube for other videos on revision and found another one I liked Revising, Rewriting & Overcoming Obstacles:editing

Have any of you found youtube videos that you found helpful to your writing?

P.S. If anyone is looking for 2015 calendars, I’ve made a couple of my photography and have them available at redbubble.com

(P.P.S. I apologize for missing a couple days, I have a bad cold and today is the first day I can keep my eyes open long enough to write a coherent sentence.)

Exploring: A beautiful and inspiring blog

In side the earth

Inside the earth

For today’s blog on exploring, I typed the work Exploring into the wordpress tag search (daring, I know) with fabulous results! I discovered a beautiful blog called HARRYBIPEDHIKING, specifically a post about exploring an abandoned mine called Bergeson Prospect.

The post starts by recommending a book Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines series by Northwest Underground Explorations volume #1 which I hope to get my hands on soon. The amazon listing has a strange range of pricing from $30 to $340 which I find strange. I’ll ask my friends at Turn the Page Books about it.

I love to hike around Western Washington, but I have to admit, I hadn’t heard about exploring abandoned mines in Western Washington until today. The photographs on the site are beautiful, and though my experience exploring Ape Cave makes me less than enthusiastic about tromping around inside the earth, the pictures of Bergeson Prospect may be changing my mind.

Thank you to HARRYBIPEDHIKING for creating a lovely post and inspiring me with some local exploring. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did.

Have any of you explored abandoned mines?

Reading to Keep the Blues Alive

I recently received an email from author Ben Sandmel announcing that he is the recipient of the Keeping The Blues Alive award in Literature for 2015, presented by the Memphis-based Blues Foundation. Congratulations, Ben! If you, dear readers, are at all interested in history, biography, New Orleans, rhythm and blues, music in general, or even me. I highly recommend checking out this book and its website erniekdoebook.com

The book has won many previous awards:

Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans is selected by National Public Radio as one of the Best Music Books of 2012

Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans is selected by Kirkus Reviews as one of the Best Non-Fiction Books of 2012

selected as Blues Book of the Year for 2012 in Living Blues magazine’s annual Critics’ Poll

My email from Ben included a ton of wonderful reviews. Here are just a couple:

12-22-12, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, Staff Picks: Our Favorite Music Books Of 2012:  Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans, by Ben Sandmel:  “Much more than a biography of a New Orleans music eccentric, this perspicaciously researched book encapsulates the spirit of a city that honors the wisdom of its weirdos. It’s also the story of a unique place — K-Doe’s Mother-In-Law Lounge, the shrine to his career-defining hit, and a haven for connoisseurs of this precious city’s flamboyant expressive culture. Packed with rare photos and gorgeously produced by the Historic New Orleans Collection press, this volume will transport you to the liveliest city in America — a trip all music fans should frequently take. —Ann Powers

6-21-12, ROLLING STONE, 4 STARS: — “With passionate R&B-detective research and eyewitness accounts from local legends like Dr. John and Allen Toussaint, Ben Sandmel vividly captures K-Doe’s wild rise out of poverty, the riches on his many 45s and his long, strange rebirth as a Crescent City treasure. In a city that breeds and adores gifted eccentrics, K-Doe was royalty. And he reigned in style.” — David Fricke

So why, you may be asking yourself, did I list an interest in myself as a reason to pick up this award winning, critically acclaimed tome of American Music History? I’m in it!

Ernie was a good friend of mine. I was in a band called The Rubber Maids that performed with Ernie near the end of his life. After Katrina, I stayed near family in the Pacific Northwest, but Ben called and interviewed me for the book. I’m even pictured AND in the index. I love showing off that there’s a picture of me in a book that includes pictures of Paul McCartney and Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin). Like I said, this is a must have for music lovers.

Personal poster from show not in book.

Personal poster from show not in book.

If you want to take a trip to pre-Katrina New Orleans from the comfort of your reading nook, I highly recommend the book that is Keeping the Blues Alive, Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans.

Mother Nature Wouldn’t Let Me Post: A Three-Stomached Blob Monster

fantasy TappsActually, Mother Nature is being mean! I woke up yesterday morning to a tree branch, brandished as a projectile by the wind like an arrow, through the rear windshield of my car. Shortly thereafter, the power went out and stayed out until around midnight. This morning, a huge tree branch had completely removed the rear windshield of my mate’s car and dented the hood. Really? Twice in two days? I still can’t believe it. And the wind is still howling. Looking at the news, I’m just grateful a tree didn’t fall on the house.

Needless to say, my writing routine is a little out of whack.

However, I did make a sketch of an illustration idea for my Middle Grade Fiction. I want the illustrations to look like a little boy who loves to draw made them. What do you think?

A Three-Stomached Blob Monster

A Three-Stomached Blob Monster