It's a word that starts my mind spinning for characters and story ideas.
Because that old guy sitting at the counter, drinking coffee. I've seen him around here before. His face is wrinkled and leathery, attesting to years spent in the sun and the wind. But his hands are smooth, not calloused. I wonder about his life. What he might have done and seen. That's where the maybes start. Maybe he was a rich man with servants, maybe he was a banker or an entrepreneur. Maybe he likes to hike or sail... Maybe…
The young mother who yelled at her child in the store and gave him a little shake—I wonder what her story is. Did she just pick him up after working a double shift so that she could pay her rent? Or maybe she has a controlling husband who doesn’t like to see them step one foot out of line. Or maybe she is just so stressed and frustrated with her life that she just can’t handle one more thing… Maybe…
Endless characters are all around you and one little word can change it all…
Where will your maybes take you?
Let’s check in on our knowledge of Memorial Day, shall we? Read the passage and fill in the missing information with the list of words below.
Memorial Day commemorates the people who died while serving in the United States’ armed forces. The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of _____, originated as Decoration Day after the American _____ War in _____. The Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of those who died in the war with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holidays had merged, and _____ _____ was born to honor all Americans who ______ while in the military service. It typically marks the _____ of the summer vacation, while _____ _____ marks its end.
Memorial Day finds many people visiting cemeteries and memorials to honor those who have died in military service. Volunteers place an _____ _____ on each grave in national cemeteries.
Different areas of the United States celebrate Memorial Day in different ways. There are annual Decoration Days in particular cemeteries where people gather on the designated day and put _____ on graves. There is often a _____ followed by a _____. It is believed that this practice began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the true origin of Memorial Day. Others observe the day by attending _____, family gatherings, or even taking the time for a short _____.
On Memorial Day, the United States flag is raised to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the _____ position, where it remains until noon. The half-staff position remembers the more than _____ men and women who gave their _____ in service of their country. At noon, the flag is raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. During this process, their _____ is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for _____ _____ _____ for all.
How did you do? Are you a Memorial Day expert? Or do you need to spend this holiday brushing up on your knowledge of this coveted day?
WORD LIST: flowers, one million, American flag, start, memory, half-staff, picnic, parades, Civil, died, liberty and justice, 1868, lives, Labor Day, service, May, vacation, Memorial Day
Writing for publication requires a certain degree of confidence. For some people writing is personal and they keep their work private, while others are confident enough to share their work with the world.
However, even the boldest people can suffer a crisis of confidence from time to time. You may get really excited by an idea at first but then find it hard to follow through. Some people may have trouble getting started, while others may struggle with editing what they have already written and want to move on to something new.
Clearly you can write. Use these pointers to increase your confidence and keep writing:
While it helps to know how to construct a sentence or spell reasonably, writing does not require someone to be specially trained or educated in a posh private school. There are many excellent writers who have gained their skills by experience—don’t underestimate what a self-taught person can bring to table. You might be surprised!
The How And The What Are Equally Important
The film Withnail and I (1987) doesn’t have much of a plot. However, the depth of the characters, the witty dialogue and the evocation of a time period make the plot less important. While details can make a story seem more real don't get too fixated on the nuts and bolts!
This Is YOUR Story
While feedback is important, remember that it is your story and you should not be afraid to finish it. This is why you should show your work to other readers of varying experience, so it will not impact your story. Once you get different perspectives on your work, you may choose to make or not to make revisions. Remember, it’s your story. You can’t possibly please everyone, so make sure you please yourself by making your story live up to your vision for it.
It can be very hard to write after a long day at work. But even a sentence or two can make a difference. Put pressure on yourself to do something each day. Don't worry too much about arbitrary limits (e.g. word counts, chapters) but write as much of a story as you feel comfortable with.
Whenever you struggle with confidence, remember everyone at some point feels this way, even if they seem confident on the outside. As the old saying goes, feel the fear and do it anyway!
What you are writing about today?
Just as actors travel the globe for film promotional tours, published authors travel for book signing tours. It’s an essential part of marketing and promotion for their novels.
While the glory of book signings are the dream of many new authors, the taste can grow bitter long before you sit behind piles of your books, in front of a long line of people waiting for your autograph.
Countless blogs, articles and tips are available to help prepare authors to host a successful book signing. Yet, despite the advice, you might end up losing more than you gain. You may ask yourself why?
Here are just a few things that authors seldom share with the reader, and often neglect to consider themselves.
Hosting a book-signing event is not always an easy venture. Finding a location—such as a bookstore or a library that will agree to allow you to host your event isn’t as easy as you think. Most bookstores won’t host unknown or indie authors. Others schedule their author signing events at least 90-120 days in advance. If you’re lucky enough, they will accept your book for consideration—meaning they will review it and will (or will not) get back to you.
Without failure, blogs, articles and hosts suggest many of the same things to make your book signing a success: bring promotional materials, create an interesting display, prepare excerpts in case you are asked to read, offer giveaways, say thank you, and follow up with your fan base. If the bookstore does some form of marketing for upcoming local book-related events, they may ask you to contribute to the marketing costs in return for them hosting your event at their store. Some stores will be specific and ask you to take care of drinks and food. Believe me, I’ve been specifically asked to bring wine and cheese to one of my signings.
If you have an out of town book signing don’t overlook your travel expenses. It’s hard to find a host bookstore where your next family reunion will be or where your college classmates live.
And At the End Of The Day
But what if, after months of preparation and planning, after spreading the word about your upcoming event, after social media shout-outs and press releases, after advertising and marketing…nobody shows up?—it happens!
Now, I’m going to slap you with some truth, unless you are a best selling author, book signings are notorious for generating little traffic. It’s a rarity for authors to sell more than 5 books during any one event. If you’re selling your book for $10 each, that’s $50—period. Now, factor in the costs of advertising, promotional materials, traveling and not to mention your time, is it really worth it? I bet your math is like mine.
I must admit, selling at most 5 copies of your book is discouraging. After you’ve set everything up and gotten yourself into the mindset. You’ve practiced what you’ll say to readers, how you’ll respond to questions, how you’ll pitch your book. You are buzzing with nervous energy. You prepare for success. You are sure everyone who flocks to your signing event will walk away with a copy. Many people who show up at your event will talk to you, pick your brain about writing habits then thank you for your time and walk away without buying a book. And you’re left at the end of the day with $50 for your efforts.
The Real Value
It’s tough. And while your time and resources might better be spent pursuing other marketing opportunities, book signings aren’t a complete waste of time—they have their benefits (maybe I will elaborate more somewhere down the road). As long as you look at it from a promotional perspective, rather than a sales perspective, I would include book signings in my marketing budget, though not more than once a year.
Think outside of the box—you might find other more successful methods of bringing your book to the readers. Maybe you could approach book clubs, donate a few copies to worthy organizations, or if you have a children’s book consider reading time at a local children’s hospital. There are countless options.
Do you have any good ideas for promotion that you want to share?
Do you secretly wonder if your mother stifles a yawn when she receives your customary gifts of flowers or boxes of chocolates every Mother’s Day? She probably loves that you thought of her but she might be happier if you were a little more creative this year. Give her an exciting, unique gift. Give her a Mother’s Day present that shows how much you care—something she can brag to her friends about for years to come.
The Gift of Adventure
Is she an adventurous type? Give her a day of adventure with you. You might take her hiking, boating, horseback riding or even for a ride in a hot air balloon. If you take her skydiving then you are sure to make a Mother’s Day memory that will last forever. You could make a weekend of it. Pack a bag, grab a map and hit the road.
The Gift of Reading
Does she love books? Then go beyond buying her the new bestseller and search out a first edition of her favorite classic. There are many websites online that sell used and rare books. Be aware that this is not a last minute gift idea but one to start working on at least a few weeks before Mother's Day. Alternatively, find a signed copy of a book by her favorite author. If your mother prefers reading e-Book, you might give her a gift card to download her own selections. Another great gift for a reader is a new updated e-Book reading device.
A Culinary Day
Does she have a gourmet palate? Does she like to explore the wonderful world of food? If she loves to cook, then you might search for a class or workshop for her—you could possibly make it more special by joining her. If she adores eating out, research and find a great, new restaurant to take her to for Mother’s Day. Remember to make your reservations well in advance as Mother’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for dining out.
Does she love a night at the theater? Is she always singing show tunes? Then giving her theater tickets or taking her to a show is a perfect gift. Do a bit of sleuthing to make sure it's a good show and one that your mother would like. If you want to be really extravagant, plan a trip to New York and take in a few Broadway productions.
Garden of Love
Is gardening is her thing? It’s a great time to buy plants and create a flower garden for your mom. You might also plant a vegetable garden for the more practical mom with an offer to work in it as the summer progresses. You know her best. Would she rather you take charge of this project or have you as the worker bee while she makes the design choices?
The key to finding a special gift for your mom this Mother’s Day is to identify your mother’s passions and hobbies and take it from there.
One thing you can be sure of is that if you put the effort into finding something really special, then this Mother's Day will be one that she'll always treasure.
The clock is ticking—let your creative juices start flowing.