Saturday, August 22, 2020

What a Real Teacher Looks Like - 3 things you need to know

School is starting, and we all know what that means. 

Get up early.

Work, work, work.

Come home.

Homework some more.

My granddaughter wins an award
2018-2019 school year

This year, in particular, things are a bit more crazy than usual. Here in Utah, many students will not be attending on Friday and will be doing remote learning on that day. Monday through Thursday, masks will be worn, hands will be washed, social distancing will be put in place [hah!] and stuff children have previously taken for granted will be off-limits.

Playground equipment use, unless they have someone cleaning it constantly.

School library use.

Even side-hugs.

Teachers of all grades have their work cut out for them. Some will be teaching online for the first time. Others will be trying to keep already rowdy classes safe and listening.

I have had many teachers in my life, from those I've gotten to know during my school years, to college, and other teachers who have been a part of my spiritual and physical life. What the good ones have in common is not as common as one might think.

 1. Listening ear. Too many teachers talk and don't listen to their students. The ones who do take a front-row seat with me.

2. Creative mind. Teach me, but don't teach me like every other teacher does. I realize that there is a curriculum to follow, but how does a great teacher follow it?

3. Open heart. If I'm having a bad day, harsh words will never heal my heart. A kind word will.

As a teacher of writing, I have to remember these three things. If I don't, I may lose my client, but not only my client, my friend. A real teacher connects with his/her students. He/she doesn't stand over them. She becomes a part of their life.


Tuesday, August 11, 2020

5 things that are stopping you from writing - the real reasons

What is keeping you from writing?

We've heard them all, or we think we have.

Lack of time may be on your list. (It was on mine). Not enough focus, not enough experience. 

I believed these excuses for years. I may have even written about them. :) 

Here are the 5 real reasons you're not writing, and another five to get you out of the slump.


Perfectionism. I am a perfectionist, in every sense of the word. I do not just clean the kitchen, I find the nooks and crannies everyone else misses. I expect my writing to be the same. The first draft must be perfection, or I refuse to continue. Every word must be flawlessly placed within the sentence. And the word must be the best word. I must check over every line as I go to make sure there are not no grammar issues. 

The truth is, there will be many mistakes, especially in the first draft. Expect it. Believe it. Just write.

My grandson collects rocks like words. 


Embarrassment. If I share this, someone will laugh. Someone will think I am the dumbest writer they've ever read. I will expose myself. People will see my flaws. 

The truth is that sometimes you will be embarrassed. Sometimes readers will laugh when a laugh is not what you intended. They will not like your writing. They will see you. And that's okay. Really. We are all human, not one of us is perfectly divine right now. All of that comes later, so just get used to being flawed. I have. 


Squirrels. Dogs like squirrels. They might be obediently walking by you until they see a squirrel. Then they are gone. I'm not talking about focus here, or lack of it in the general sense, I am talking about day-in and day-out squirrels every second of the day. I have to clean now. I have to go to work now. I have to pray now. I have to go shopping now. I have to eat now. I have to sleep now. I have to take a walk now. I have to go to church now. I have to go to school now. I have to do my homework now. Are you still reading? Good. I have to take a shower now. I have to make my bed now. I have to...

The truth is, you will never write that book - period. It's just not that interesting to you. You'd rather go skiing, or boating, or skydiving, or bowling, or camping...

...or looking at cars. 
...or dumping out water for your sunflower because you need to water all of the other sunflowers.


Television. You might think that television goes into the category above. Yes, it is a squirrel, but a squirrel of a different breed. You didn't know televisions were squirrels, did you? Well, they are. Television sucks you in. And so does every other electronic gizmo on the planet. So what do you do? You use it, then let it go, and write. If you don't let it go [I am thinking of this very blog even as I write this] the electronic thing will cling to you like a serpent. It will cling to you and suck all of your blood out. And once your blood is out you will not be able to write. Why? Because that d______ thing has taken all of your words! 

The truth is, television can be a good thing - in moderation. As can every other electronic gizmo on the planet. But it clings, I tell you. It clings.


Ignorance. You not only believe you can't write; you do nothing to stop it. Ignorance, no matter what anybody says, is NOT bliss. It is emptiness. It is floating around without anything to latch onto - no, not even your television set! Knowledge is bliss! Learning what you need to practice to get better is bliss! Learning from your mistakes is bliss! Editing is bliss! [I saw you frown]. And yes, even writing that twenty-fifth draft is bliss. Why? Because you DON'T HAVE AN EMPTY BRAIN! You are learning something! And you are writing it down!

The truth is, learning new things creates excitement. It creates better characters! Better dialogue! Better everything!

Isn't that what you really want?

Now, get to it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

5 Questions You Must Ask Before You Self-Publish

Just because you want to self-publish, doesn't mean you get to skip some steps. Self-publishing just means you have everything to do - it's all on your plate.

I also do business cards and postcards for my books

Since I've learned a thing or two about self-publishing myself and helping other authors to self-publish with a little assistance from our hybrid publishing house, Idea Creations Press, allow me to share with you five questions I always ask myself before I consider my manuscript - finished. 

1. Has my book been edited? Once you've edited your work, allowed it to sit at least two weeks before going over it again - maybe even longer - you still need another set of eyes (five is a good number) to look over your manuscript. I use Grammarly when I do my final check. And even then, things get missed, so always, always have those last-minute eyes read over your book.

2. Is my book cover the best it can be? Get some feedback. Trust in this feedback. I have one book right now that has gone through two book covers. I am still not completely satisfied with it. It's okay to update a cover after a few years, but you want the cover to be as professional as you can make it right out the gate. There are many places you can buy stock photos that you can then create a book cover from. Some of them are pretty inexpensive. For picture books: PLEASE get a professional artist/photographer unless you are a professional artist yourself, meaning you have sold some paintings, and/or have your work in an art gallery. The pictures in picture books have to be outstanding or the text will not be able to stand on its own.

At Amazon

3. Especially if this is your first book published - Do I have a website/blog already running? And if so, when was the last time I posted? Daily is best. I don't post daily because of time limitations, but if you have time, do it! If you don't currently have a blog/website, get it going yesterday

4. Is my social media in place? Do I have a Facebook account? Twitter? LinkedIn? Pinterest? Instagram? GoodReads? Google+? Author page on Amazon?

5. Do I have some advertising ideas ready? If you can't afford a lot, check into Facebook and Google advertising.

Bottom line. When you self-publish, you want your book to look professional, and you want to have some ideas in place BEFORE it's published. If you are reading this after your book has already been published, never fear! Start today!