Writing permeates every aspect of modern life and is an essential skill regardless of profession and interest. Even businesses cannot survive without good writing at their core and it is a vital part of effective online and print marketing and promotions. Teaching writing to children whether it is a report or technical writing or creative writing has a number of key benefits for their healthy development and prosperous future. Among other things, excellent writing skills mean they will learn to express themselves, consume more reading material and perform better in most academic parameters.
Atmosphere Dictates All
Writing is considered a challenging prospect by children especially if they are younger than middle grade because it seems complex and they might have trouble retaining good vocabulary or expressing themselves. As a parent, you need to identify issues (also ruling out the chance of dyslexia or other learning disorders) and solve them in imaginative and interesting ways. Create a safe space for the child to practice their writing like a desk or a spare room and incorporate inspiring décor ideas like scrabble tiles or framed quotes.
Next, buy them books on subjects they like such as sports or stories. As you build up their reading skills, ask them to jot down new words they have learned in a separate notebook. You can also test them on the meaning and uses of these words using colorful flashcards. Never underestimate the value of consistent practice as it often counts more than simply talent in a particular area.
Switch The Tables
One of the key aspects of being a great writer is the shifting of perspectives. Skilled writers can write for a variety of audiences to suit each and every purpose. Teaching tone and style is therefore very important. Encourage your child to imagine various scenarios and how writing would differ in all of them and help them to find examples online or in print as well. For example; writing a news report is different from someone writing a story and that is different from someone trying to sell you an item.
To Each His Own
Each child has their own favorite type of writing to read and therefore write. Is your child interested in keeping a journal or scrapbooking? Do they prefer to write travel logs? Do they like tales of fantastical lands and beasts? Encourage them to practice the kind of writing that makes their heart sing. When they are able to get a starting point this way, they’ll be more conducive to doing school work for types of writing they perhaps don’t enjoy as much such as reports or work assignments.
Equip Your Child
Make sure you have purchased all the equipment your child needs to become a formidable writer in their own right. Pencils, books, practice books, a desk, etc all matter and impart a sense of purpose. Furthermore, if you’ve consistently observed your child struggles with words and sentence formation and will benefit from English tuition, then that is a worthwhile investment. Not to mention good tutors can also be hired online with ease! You can also take them to libraries and bookshops and build up the reading habit which is in fact the greatest teacher when it comes to becoming a better writer.
Listening to audiobooks or documentaries and even podcasts is a great way to better your writing. Listening translates into better sentence structure and formation when you sit down to write. Encourage your child to listen to educational and interesting material when they are playing outside, going for a walk, simply want to lie down, or are doing anything generally unproductive. This will add to their passive learning and impact their writing in the long run.
Templates And Tests
Writing is a skill like any other and part of developing it in children is periodic testing. Look up tests online you can either use as they are, or tailor to your requirements and have your children take those tests on weekends and so on. Make sure they are short and creative so they don’t add to the school workload each child has to undertake. You can come up with story prompts or even templates and give them to your children to work from. Seeing available examples and starting points always helps with writer’s block.
To make your child keen to practice their writing more, you can even consider starting a blog or something similar from where you and he/she can track how well you are progressing. Not to mention it is brilliant motivation to keep writing and improving.
In stories as varied as legends about local animals to tales of fairy creatures, there is tremendous cross-over in the symbolism used by cultures around the world. By studying these stories, we are reminded of the universal truths about life. The salmon, a transformational fish known for being of both salt and freshwater, has stories which teach new generations to show respect for the food that nourishes them. Tales of mermaids tell of the hardship of living between two worlds, no matter the original culture. Fairy tales about a girl growing up in painful conditions teaches how a person can earn a chance at a new life through being kind and honest. What we eat, the trials we go through, and how we act are all taught through the symbolism in these ancient stories from around the world.
People who live close to the land, who have lived in the same places for centuries of generations, have a connection with nature to be envied. It’s through such a connection that the salmon came to be touted as the bestowers of knowledge upon anyone who eats them. Such wisdom was passed down generation to generation until finally verified by modern science. Salmon, after all, contains Omega 3, a brain food. Certainly, such a creature deserves to be revered. The legends of salmon coming from countries in the Atlantic or the Pacific always hold the salmon in the highest esteem. The Ainu of Japan say salmon is a gift from Paradise. The Haida of the Pacific Northwest, like so many Native American tribes in that region, teach that salmon must be respected in their story of Salmon Boy. The Celtic people of Ireland tell the story of Finn MacCool, a man who gains unlimited intelligence by tasting the Salmon of Knowledge. Revisiting the legends of the creatures living where we live can teach us a lot for how to respect nature.
Mermaids, being both human and fish, live between worlds and symbolize transformation and longing. They are ocean creatures, but they long for the land of their human half. This is not unique to Ariel, the Disney version of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. When the cast for the live action The Little Mermaid was announced, and Halle Bailey was cast as the key role, there was backlash about how mermaids are supposed to be white. This was repeated over and over in heated debates, and the comeback was that there are black mermaids, too. There are the stories of Mami Wata, a mermaid tale that originates in Africa and was passed along through the people captured into slavery, and still circulates today throughout the USA, Haiti and other former slave destinations. Unlike most African deities, Mami Wata is not an Orisha. Her name originates in Egypt. Like Ariel, there is longing for the seemingly unattainable land. Yet Mami Wata is no simpering child. She is powerful, almost more like the character of Ursula in The Little Mermaid. Someone to be feared. In Celtic stories of mermaids who drag their suitors to the bottom of the ocean floor, so do the African mermaids who serve Mami Wata. A creature to be feared, in symbolizing living between worlds the mermaid serves to teach us to learn to do the same.
Not only has the world of Disney shown just one version of the mermaids from around the world, so too has there been but one view of most popular fairy tales been told. Cinderella has many versions of the same story in a multitude of countries worldwide. Original versions of Cinderella (under different names) are found in the east as far back as 618 AD during the T’ang dynasty of China and even in some Native American tribal stories out west. The stories are always similar; a young girl is mistreated by her family and through telling the truth she is united with a powerful man. Truth may be symbolized by a clothing item such as a golden sandal or an anklet as in the versions of the Eastern countries, or it may be represented by the Cinderella character being able to see the truth where no one else can as in Native American stories. Either way, truth overcomes poverty and pain, giving the girl a “happy ever after” story she has earned through her kindness and honesty. Recognizing that this story is not only a European construct but belongs to all the people of our planet helps teach us that we are all capable of being good citizens worthy of a happy life.
It is because of these varied stories offering connecting symbolism throughout a multitude of cultures and countries that I was inspired to write my final book, The Eternity Knot, the way I did. We are more alike than we realize. Our stories, centuries old, have shown us this over and over again. If we study these ancient stories, we can also learn the simplicity of taking care of our world. Knowledge and respect of nature, learning to live between worlds (e.g. technology and nature), being kind and honest; these are some of the traits we would do better to exhibit and they are taught to us through the symbology within the stories of our world.
About the Author
H. R. Conklin grew up in the rural mountains of Northern California where her mother gardened and her father played the bagpipes, as well as spending long hours in the theater where her parents were a dancer and an actor. This undoubtedly led to her overactive imagination and love for nature. She currently lives in San Diego with her husband, two adult children, and three dogs. She used to teach kindergarten at a public Waldorf charter school in which she told many fairy tales to the children, and made up stories in her spare time. Now she is a Story Circle Leader and guides parents in homeschooling at a private Waldorf school.
Join Lily at the Faerie Review as she shares her review of H.R. Conklin’s latest book The Eternity Knot; part of the Celtic Magic Series. This is a great book for anyone who enjoys a modern take on myths and fairytales!
Judy at the Knotty Needle shares her review with readers after reading H.R. Conklin’s The Eternity Knot – part of the Celtic Magic Series. Don’t miss Judy’s insightful review! https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/
July 31st @ Author C.K. Sorens
Fellow Author C.K. Sorens shares her review of The Eternity Knot – the latest release by H.R. Conklin and part of the Celtic Magic series. Don’t miss today’s peer review!
Wisconsin entrepreneur and educator, Cathy Hansen reviews the latest novel in the Celtic Magic Series – find out what Cathy has to say about The Eternity Knot as she shares her thoughts with readers at Bring on Lemons.
Fellow author Anthony Avina shares his review of H.R. Conklin’s The Eternity Knot. This book is part of the Celtic Magic Series – readers of all ages will delight in this special story! https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/
August 3rd @ A Storybook World
Readers at A Storybook World will hear from guest blogger H.R. Conklin on the topic of Symbolism in Fairytales. Conklin just release The Eternity Knot – another 5 star book in the Celtic Magic series, but she’s taking time to share her author expertise with readers today! Don’t miss this fabulous opportunity to learn from Conklin!
Earlier this week, readers at Author Anthony Avina’s blog read Anthony’s review of H.R. Conklin’s The Eternity Knot. Today readers will hear from Conklin herself as she shares a guest blog post titled: “Symbolism Reflected in Stories from Around the World” . Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to learn more about The Celtic Magic series! https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/
August 5th @ The Knotty Needle
Judy at the Knotty Needle shares her review of The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin. This is book 3 in the Celtic Magic series and it is guaranteed to delight readers of all ages! Don’t miss Judy’s review! https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/
August 6th @ Beverley A. Baird
Today’s guest post for readers at Beverley A. Baird is written by H.R. Conklin. Conklin is the award winning author of the Celtic Magic Series and she recently released her latest title: The Eternity Knot. Don’t miss a chance to read today’s guest post titled: “Parenting Wisdom Shared Through Storytelling”.
August 7th @ World of My Imagination with Nicole Pyles
Nicole just finished reading The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin and can’t wait to tell readers at World of My Imagination all about it. Don’t miss today’s review by Nicole to find out more about this title as well as the others in the Celtic Magic Series!
August 8th @ Word Magic; All About Books with Author Fiona Ingram
H.R Conklin pens today’s guest post about fairies and mythology as she visits fellow author Fiona Ingram at Word Magic. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from Conklin and find out more about her latest release: The Eternity Knot; part of the Celtic Magic series! http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/
August 9th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto
WOW! Blog Tour Manager, Crystal Otto reviews the latest novel in the Celtic Magic Series – find out what Crystal has to say about The Eternity Knot as she shares her 5 star review with readers at Bring on Lemons.
Libby is a young artist who enjoys many genres of books – she shares her thoughts with readers at Bring on Lemons today – her deep thoughts about The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin. This book is part of the Celtic Magic series and Libby is excited to read all the books. Readers will delight in her youthful perspective and her energy!
Today, readers at Jill Sheet’s Blog will hear from H.R. Conklin on the topic of “How Symbolism in Fairy Tales of Old Help Us Today”. Stop by to learn more about The Eternity Knot (part of the Celtic Magic Series) and learn from this talented author.
Readers at Wildwood Reads will hear from Megan as she reviews The Eternity Knot by H.R. Conklin. Don’t miss an opportunity to learn more about The Celtic Magic Series and this latest release! https://wildwoodreads.com/
From the beginning of the Mystic Rampage project, I knew I wanted it to be at least a two-part series. It seemed like the best way to combine the fantasy and science fiction elements. In the first novel the Genie’s powers have some principles in biochemistry or physics, but they are mostly considered magic. In the second book I introduced a deeper scientific explanation for their abilities. I was unsure about writing a third installment. I killed off a few characters at the end of book 2 and wasn’t sure I had enough material for another full-length novel. I’ve been working on it almost a year now and I’m still not sure I have enough.
Part of the reason I decided to attempt a third novel was due to Soleil’s uncertain fate at the end of Public Display of Aggression, although it’s probably unnecessary. There’s nothing wrong with leaving readers with a mystery; it’s why fan theorists exist. The main reason I’m working on another is that three books just feels natural. I’m aware that duologies exist but I can’t recall any off the top of my head. For some reason when authors decide to make a series they are expected to write at least three. I don’t know when it became the norm, but now that I’m conforming to it I find three novels gets boring. It’s too long for me to follow the same characters. Flarence was always my favorite character in this series to write, but even he’s become dull. I’m getting sick of finding reasons for him to get into fights. I’m also running out of clever ways for the Genies to use their magic. I have a lot of respect for authors who produce series that consist of five books, or ten, or even more. I have even greater respect for people involved in comic books. Some superheroes have been around for more than 70 years, and they still fly off shelves. I can’t imagine keeping a story going that long. Mystic Rampage is going to be my last series, at least for a while. From now on, it’s one-and-done for me.
Soleil and Flarence are immortal Genies who can bend the fundamental forces of the universe through willpower alone. For centuries, they have considered themselves the most formidable beings in the world, but some newcomers just might give them a run for their money.
Magic has always been limited to living things. Throughout his life, Soleil has never come across an object with supernatural capabilities. Now, a human has somehow constructed guns with the ability to fire spells. Genies are normally resistant to offensive magic, but Soleil knows from experience that the enchanted revolvers harm all creatures equally.
Resurrection is one of the few limitations to a Genie’s abilities. Not even magic should be able to bring a person back from death. Recently, though, Flarence saw a corpse not only rise but also fight. Endowed with incredible speed and strength, the revived man seeks revenge on his murderers.
To make matters worse, Darren (the third member of the Genie “family”) is still missing. He’s been lying low, biding his time, but hasn’t forgotten about Officer Tymbir, and has every intention of settling their score.
Darren, the revived corpse, and the man with the magic guns have a list of people to kill, and are eager to spill blood. With the help of Mohinaux and Claire, Soleil and Flarence rush to locate them, uncover the sources of their powers, and find a way to stop them.
This book is perfect for adults who want to get in touch with their inner child!
Hugh Fritz is a fan of monsters, mad scientists, sorcerers, and anything that involves beings with incredible powers beating each other senseless. After years of writing research papers, he decided it was time to give reality a rest and let his imagination run wild.
Deirdra Eden shares the spotlight today – and in today’s spotlight it is none other than Hugh Fritz with Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series: Public Display of Aggression! Readers won’t want to miss an opportunity to dig into the magic of this incredible story!
There’s a guest author at Mari McCarthy’s Create Write Now and it’s the one and only Hugh Fritz who recently finished Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series. He’s busy promoting Public Display of Aggression but has taken time out of his busy schedule to write an informative post about “Using Bacteria and Fungus in Food”. Join readers at Create Write Now to learn more!
June 17th @ World of My Imagination with Nicole Pyles
Nicole Pyles shares her thoughts as she reviews Public Display of Aggression by Hugh Fritz. Readers at World of My Imagination will put their imagination into overdrive with this fast-paced story involving plenty of magic. This is Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series but reads just as well as a stand-alone. Don’t miss today’s review by Nicole!
Diti Shah shares her book review with her Insta followers – find out what she thinks of Public Display of Aggression by Hugh Fritz! This is Book #2 of the Mystic Rampage Series that has delighted readers and left them wanting more!
There’s a guest author at A Storybook World and it’s the one and only Hugh Fritz who recently finished Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series. He’s busy promoting Public Display of Aggression but has taken time out of his busy schedule to write an informative post about “Illustrations in Fantasy Novels”. This will be great for writers and readers alike.
June 22nd @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
Lisa Haselton interviews Hugh Fritz about the Mystic Rampage Series and Book #2 Public Display of Aggression. Don’t miss this insider opportunity to hear from the author himself – the man behind all the imagination and fun!
Judy Hudgins keeps readers on the edge of their seat at the knotty needle blog as she reviews Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series . Readers will want to grab their own copy of Hugh Fritz’s Public Display of Aggression so they won’t miss a beat of this imaginative story!
The spotlight is bright at Bookish Trischa and today it shines on Hugh Fritz and his latest creation Public Display of Aggression – Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series! Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about the book everyone is talking about!
Crystal Otto reads a lot and she loves a fast-paced imaginative story. Public Display of Aggression is 5 Stars and she can’t wait to tell readers more about it at Book Santa Fe today! This is the 2nd book in the Mystic Rampage series, but she says it reads great as a standalone. Read Crystal’s full review today!
Readers of Varsha’s blog will hear from Hugh Fritz today in a post about “Fan Fiction” as he takes a break from promoting his latest book Public Display of Aggression. Don’t miss this guest post and opportunity to learn more about the Mystic Rampage Series and the man behind all the excitement!
Carmen is an avid reader and soon to be high schooler – she loved Book #1 in the Mystic Rampage series and she joins us today to share her 5 Star Review of Book #2 – Public Display of Aggression by Hugh Fritz. Don’t miss her youthful insight!
Readers of Author Anthony Avina’s Blog will hear from Hugh Fritz today as he pens a guest post titled “Preference of Series of Stand Alone Pieces”. This post will delight authors and readers alike – so don’t miss it! This is also a great opportunity to learn more about the Mystic Rampage Series and Book #2, Public Display of Aggression.
July 12th @ Bookish Trischa
Today is the day – Trischa reviews Public Display of Aggression – Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series! Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about and hear from Trischa herself as she shares her insight into the writings of Hugh Fritz.
Today it’s Varsha’s opportunity to share her review of Public Display of Aggression. Don’t miss this chance to learn more about the fast-paced writing of Hugh Fritz and Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage series!
A few days ago, readers of Author Anthony Avina’s Blog heard from Hugh Fritz in a guest post: “Preference of Series of Stand Alone Pieces”. Now it’s review time – hear what Anthony has to say in his review of Public Display of Aggression, Book #2 in the Mystic Rampage Series by Hugh Fritz!
I’m not sure who said it, but there’s an adage that goes something like: A first book is the one the author needed to write. This statement is true for me, though not for all the themes found in my first book, Anything That Happens. Hm. That may not be accurate. Let me begin again.
I came to writing through a side door. At the end of my senior year in high school, my English teacher pulled me aside, a stack of my creative assignments in his hand, and urged me to keep writing. “If you enjoy doing this, keep doing it,” Mr. Langford said, making me look up and into his eyes so I could see his serious face. He knew I was an adrift teenager about to be released into the world. I imagine him crossing his fingers as he gave me the “life raft” that is poetry.
My poetry has always been personal, tied to the exploration of emotion. I believe it’s a response to the practical, non-communicative environment where I grew up. The stack of papers Mr. Langford held were poems about friendship and trust, my mom making a new home with her husband-to-be, my father’s absence, and me coming to terms with … my future?
Since I had little direction, and I enjoyed writing, I took Mr. Langford’s advice. But, I didn’t know how to live like a writer. And I believed “experience” would make me a writer. (Obviously, I wasn’t paying attention in class when we talked about Emily Dickenson’s life.)
So, when I moved from California to North Carolina at nineteen years old, I was embarking on “life.” I uprooted, hoping for new, enlightening experiences. Nine months later, the event—a car crash—I would eventually need to write happened.
The irony is that after the crash, I couldn’t write. Then, I wouldn’t write, not seriously. Not for years. I believed it was wrong to make a good thing from my bad act. And since I wanted to become a poet, I kept myself from it, accepting my due punishment.
The thing about needs is they don’t disappear. Whether I wanted to believe it or not, I was a poet, and a poet needs to write poetry. There’s no escaping it. (Oh, thank goodness.)
I first gave myself permission to write about the crash in a fiction class. I had returned to college at twenty-seven years old and majored in creative writing. Fiction provided me the distance I needed to write the details of the night, from my friend’s phone call to being handcuffed and put into a police car. In the “story,” the crash was happening to someone else.
That first step was monumental: I was in the writer’s chair.
Two years later, during my last poetry workshop before graduation, I wrote my first poem about the crash, the original version of the “Slipped” series that’s in the book. It was the story I wrote in fiction, but this time, I was once again in the driver’s seat. Placing myself there gave me a better vantage point to tell the story, and not only the drinking too much and car wrapped around a pole story. The pieces of the story only I knew: the emotional and psychological impact.
The crash was the story I needed to tell. “Emotional and psychological impact” is the inherent slice of all the stories I tell, like when I tried to understand my father’s choices compared to my mother’s back in high school.
The main narrative of Anything That Happens is the car crash and its aftermath. But there is also the death of my mother, the birth of my first son, struggles of parenthood, and underneath it all, ever-present shame. There’s no doubt the car crash heightened my interest in how one action can affect someone else. When I wrote about the relationship with my parents and how I felt about becoming a mother, I did so through the lens of cause and effect—the impact of choosing what not to do weighing as heavily as choosing what to do.
The impact of writing the story I needed to write is just coming to fruition. The book is only two months old. My desire to write hasn’t lessened. Now, I get to work on what I want to write. I don’t know what that looks like yet. Sure, I have ideas and dreams. Okay, I even have projects I kept putting to the side while I finished the needed-to-be-told story. But that’s the “work” of being a writer, and I’ll get to it. For now, I’m still living the piece I’m most interested in, the emotional and psychological impact of having told the story I needed to tell.
About the Author
Cheryl Wilder is the author of Anything That Happens, a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection (Press 53, 2021), a collection that examines how to reconcile a past grave mistake and a future that stretches into one long second chance. Her chapbook, What Binds Us (Finishing Line Press, 2017), explores the frailty and necessity of human connection.
A founder and editor of Waterwheel Review, Cheryl earned her BFA from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
“Potentially the difference between a blockbuster and a flop, kid!” Hollywood answered, chewing on a cigar and pouring two fingers of scotch.
In all seriousness, it is unfortunately true that more than a few cinematic gems have been buried by their lackluster titles. A good title, by contrast, can get someone to click on a trailer, read a two-sentence description that can clinch the deal, or fill a theater seat on the power of the curiosity it has inspired alone.
At the very least, a good title gets a moviegoer to ask, “tell me more”… and a really good title gets a moviegoer to say, “Okay, show me.”
And this is why Blake Snyder emphasizes in Save the Cat! – his methodology that revolutionized the language of storytelling – that you are not tasked with simply coming up with a title for your movie.
You’re tasked with giving your movie a killer title.
It’s a mission so important—so absolutely paramount—that we hammer it home in great detail in the “Cracking the Beat Sheet” online course. We also offer an arsenal of tips and pointers because, after all, imagine pouring your heart and soul into writing a story for the ages, pulling every string to get it into the hands of a decision-maker (or at least an intern) at a production company or major studio, only to have them look at the title, and with a “meh,” toss it onto the “maybe later” (maybe never) pile.
Tragedy! One that would ruffle even Shakespeare’s… ruffles! So let’s prevent it!
“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”
We all know a good title when we read one. But what makes a title good?
Years ago, Blake offered us an important clue to cracking that case. He pointed out that “a good title must say what it is! and yet give us a fresh, intriguing invitation to your party that gives us a hint of the type and tone of the festivities we’re about to attend. And that’s some tight writing right there.“
So as you can see—and as many of us have had the displeasure of experiencing—it’s no easy task, nor is it a small one. And to prove that it’s a task on which even the biggest films may stumble and fall, allow me to share the example we use in the Save the Cat! “Cracking the Beat Sheet” course:
In 2014, Tom Cruise starred in a movie called Edge of Tomorrow, which was phenomenal by both audience and critics’ accounts with a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The premise was basically Groundhog’s Day in the middle of an alien invasion. A man with no combat experience is forced to relive the same day over and over again until he can figure out how to thwart a devastating extraterrestrial attack.
The problem was, none of the excitement of that premise was hinted at or captured with the title “Edge of Tomorrow,” slick as it sounded. And one of the most vocal lamenters of the title’s failure was Doug Liman, the film’s director. He openly blamed this title, which was forced on the film, for the movie’s disappointing box office returns.
“I ended up having to call the person (the Warner Bros. executive) and apologize for pointing out that they were wrong,” he said. “And they started titling it the title I always thought it should have, which is Live Die Repeat. But they tiptoed around it, and when we make the sequel, it’ll be permanently titled Live Die Repeat. The sequel will be Live Die Repeat and Repeat.”
Guess what? That’s a title that says what the movie is.
Hopefully, you’re now fully convinced that a title matters a great deal, and you’re mentally running the “Say What It Is” test on your current script titles.
And if you still only find yourself on the edge of inspiration, we’ve packed our online course with wisdom and tricks to tip you over.
Happy writing! Or shall we say… live, write, repeat!
Jennifer Zhang is a screenwriter and filmmaker who wrote, produced and sold her award-winning debut feature “The Evil Inside” shortly after working with Blake Snyder and adopting Save the Cat! storytelling principles in her screenwriting. She is the instructor featured in the “Cracking the Beat Sheet” online course, and has most recently garnered early festival buzz for her feature-length independent thriller “Charon” which has picked up multiple official selections and “Best Writer” nominations.
About Save the Cat!
Save the Cat!® is the bestselling story methodology introduced by screenwriter Blake Snyder in 2005 with his first book, Save the Cat!. Snyder’s acclaimed ideas, methods, and software have provided thousands of writers with the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels.
Save the Cat!’s
WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING TOUROFCracking the Beat Sheet
Story Development Cards
Tour Begins February 22nd
First, what is Save the Cat!®?
Save the Cat! provides writers the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels based on a series of best-selling books, primarily written by Blake Snyder (1957- 2009). Blake’s method is based on 10 distinctive genres and his 15 story beats (the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet). Our books, workshops, story structure software, apps, and story coaching teach you everything you need to unlock the fundamentals and mechanics of plot and character transformation.
About the Save the Cat! Cracking the Beat Sheet Online Course
This course is designed for writers to turn their idea into a movie or novel. This learn-at-your-own-pace online class helps you develop the 15 key “beats” or “plot points” of your story. Strung together, in the right order, these 15 beats make up the blueprint to a successful screenplay or novel.
You’ll Turn an Idea into a Story by Learning to…
• Create a solid beat sheet that will serve as the road map, and “backbone” of your story
• Identify and know the key components of your story genre • Learn the clichés of your genre so that you can break them like an artist
• Plot your hero’s journey and “transformation” • Troubleshoot your story idea for viability
• Write a compelling logline or elevator pitch
This Course Is for Those Who…
• Want to troubleshoot an existing story
• Have so many great ideas and struggle to choose “the one”
• Are ready to write but not sure how to start
• Are determined to finish a half-written story
• Want to learn
This Course Includes…
• Over 3 hours and 17 minutes of original video production
Introducing Save the Cat!®Story Cards, consisting of Save the Cat! Beat Cards and Save the Cat! Scene Cards, all designed to outline and develop your story.
Save the Cat! Beat Cards
Crack your story from the “Opening Image” to the “Final Image.” Save the Cat!® Beat Cards provide writers with the 15 key plot points to map out your script or novel. Every set contains 15 individual index cards with helpful explanations of each beat to form the foundation of your story.
Save the Cat! Scene Cards
Every scene of your story needs to communicate “place,” “basic action,” “emotional transformation,” and “outcome.” The Save the Cat!® Scene Cards help writers nail the purpose of every scene. Each set of cards contains 40 color-coded cards broken down by act, with 10 extra cards because we know you’ll need them.
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us today over at our blog, where we launch another blog tour for Save the Cat! We talk about their online course and their story cards, interview the Save the Cat team, and host a special giveaway you don’t want to miss.
I ran a small press for seven years and published 13 books, including three New York Times Bestsellers, three Hoffer Award Winners, and a book that was optioned for a film. We averaged 6,000 copies sold of each title—including two titles that sold more than 20,000 copies each.
To put that in perspective: the average U.S. nonfiction book sells fewer than 250 copies per year and fewer than 2,000 copies in its lifetime. The average author-published book sells 250-300 copies in its lifetime. Sales of 5,000 copies of a book is considered respectable by a Big Five publisher, and a “home run” by a small publisher.
We achieved success without traditional distribution and on a shoestring budget. And one of the keys to our success was using e-newsletters and websites that promote books.
There are dozens of book promotion newsletters (more than 100 by some counts), and I used many of them as a publisher. Earlier this year, after having used these newsletters for many years in my marketing efforts and after having done extensive market research on the industry, Kathleen Meyer and I launched LitNuts, an e-newsletter to bring the “Best of the Indies” to booklovers.
Today, I want to give you a quick overview of the industry, and tell you why readers should take a closer look at book promotion newsletters and why authors and publishers should include them in their marketing plans. I’ll also tell you why we decided to launch LitNuts despite the crowded playing field.
The Book e-Newsletter Industry
You are probably familiar with some book promotion e-newsletters. Some of the more prominent ones are BookBub, Bargain Booksy and eReader News Today. And for every large one, there are many other smaller ones like Book Basset, the Choosy BookWorm and the Frugal eReader. Beyond industry giant BookBub, there is a group that would best be described as mid-sized family-run businesses, and then there are a bunch that are produced by individuals.
They all follow a similar business model in that the e-newsletters are free to subscribers, and authors and publishers pay to have their books featured in the e-newsletter. The cost to be featured ranges from as low as $10 (even less in some cases) to several hundreds or even thousands of dollars (in the case of BookBub).
The newsletters are great for readers. In addition to being free, the newsletters mostly focus on bargains, and everybody loves a bargain.
The only problems from the reader’s perspective are 1) the focus on bargains means a limited universe—not every great book is $2.99 or less, and 2) uneven quality because the only requirement for most newsletters is payment—they are not looking at quality, which means there’s a more-than-middling possibility that the 99 cent “bargain” you just downloaded isn’t worth the time you spent to download it, let alone read it.
There are additional problems from the perspective of the author or publisher, including convoluted promotion “packages,” tiered pricing structures, and a maze of sometimes complicated order forms.
Despite the problems, newsletters are a great way for readers to “discover” books, and a great way for authors and publishers to get their books out there for “discovery.” But obviously, there’s room for improvement. That’s why Kathleen and I started LitNuts: we felt we could do some things a little different—and ideally, better.
What Makes LitNuts Different?
One thing that makes LitNuts different is our focus on indie books. No other newsletter has this focus. While the Big Five publishers (Penguin Random House, Hachette Livre, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, and Simon & Schuster) and their ~250 imprints focus on million-dollar deals and the next big bestseller, indie publishers are nurturing new authors and emphasizing quality and innovation over profits. In addition, books from independent, university, small and micro presses have been professionally edited and designed, ensuring a level of quality. (Note: We will also feature author-published works that rise to that same level of quality and meet our standards.)
Another thing that makes LitNuts different is that while other newsletters focus on bargains, LitNuts features books at all price points, including lots of new releases and award winners. In addition, we feature collections of short stories, essays and poetry—forms of writing that most newsletters exclude simply because collections don’t usually sell as well as book-length works.
Finally, we’ve made things easier for authors and publishers: no convoluted “packages” to analyze…no tiered pricing…no waiting to see if the date an author wants for a book promotion is available. It’s a very affordable $25 to be featured in LitNuts, and our simple order form allows you to select the date of your book promotion.
Submitting Books to Promotional Newsletters/Websites
Another thing that can be complicated from the author/publisher perspective is coordinating promotions. A lot of times, an author or publisher is planning a sale and will want to schedule multiple promotions in conjunction with the sale. You can do it yourself, but if you want to run multiple promotions at the same time, be prepared to spend lots of hours at the computer filling out order forms.
There are some economical services that will handle submission to multiple book promotion newsletters and websites if you are giving away free, promotional copies of an e-book:
Taranko1 on Fiverr: Will submit free e-books to multiple promotion services for as little as $5.
Author Marketing Club: No charge, but they don’t submit for you. Instead, they have consolidated on one page links that take you directly to the order forms of multiple promotion services. You still have to submit the books yourself, but having all of the order forms in one place will save you time.
That said, when it comes to submitting books that are on sale for $0.99 or more, you’re pretty much on your own. Which is fine…you can do it! It just takes time. But I will tell you about a service that I recently came across called Book Rank, which has two options: 1) “We Build It” Promotion Services, in which they select the book promotion newsletters/websites for you, and 2) “Build Your Own” Promotional Services, in which you tell them which venues you want to use.
I’ve not used Book Rank, and the “We Build It” prices are not cheap. But the “Build Your Own” service looks pretty reasonable. It’s $50 plus 6.9% of the total cost of the sites you want to submit to. You can choose from 33 book promotion newsletters/sites (soon to be 34 when they add LitNuts), and your cost will be $50 + the total cost of doing a promotion with each newsletter/website + 6.9%. That’s not a bad deal. But you need to know which ones to use.
And then, of course, there’s BookBub. BookBub is expensive, but it gets results. The catch is that you have to apply to be featured in their newsletter—and they are very selective. They only accept 10-15% of the books that are submitted to them. Some of that has to do with price; BookBub requires that “your book must be discounted to at least 50% off the predominant recent price” and “your book cannot have been offered for a better price in the recent past.” In other words, you essentially need to price your book at the lowest price in its history to have it included in BookBub.
BookBub looks at everything else, too: book cover, professional reviews, online reader reviews, awards, etc. BookBub doesn’t give a number, but I tell people you’d better have at least 25 reader reviews averaging 4 stars or better on Amazon or Goodreads before submitting to BookBub (some say 50 reader reviews averaging 4.5 stars).
If you think your book will qualify, submit it to BookBub. Prices range from as little as $113 (to promote a free e-book to a very small audience) to as much as $4,000 (to promote an e-book that costs more than $3 to a large audience). The average price to promote a 99 cent e-book is currently $600. That’s a lot—but you will sell hundreds, if not thousands, of e-books as a result of doing a promotion with Bookbub.
Book promotion newsletters are a dynamic component of the overall book industry. They are a boon to readers, bringing you a wide selection of books to consider for your next read. And they are a boon to authors and publishers, and should be part of any marketing plan. But as with all things, proceed with caution. Readers need to be wary of the disproportionate focus on “bargains” that may not be bargains at all, and authors and publishers need to do their homework on which newsletters actually get results and which ones are just taking your money.
Ideally, book promotion newsletters bring readers and authors together…providing readers with more choices, and authors and publishers with an economical way to share new titles. And ideally, the book promotions will generate enough sales to at least pay for themselves. But even if an author or publisher just breaks even on a promotion, I think you can regard that as a “win.” You got your book into the hands of more readers, which should lead to more online reader reviews (worth their weight in gold) and more word-of-mouth marketing (the Holy Grail of book publishing).
So, LitNuts brings you books of short stories, essays, or poetry that many other newsletters refuse to include (because collections don’t sell as well as novels). LitNuts also features new releases and award-winning books that other newsletters exclude because of price. (Many newsletters feature ONLY ebooks priced at $2.99 or less, which is fine – but not all great books are $2.99 or less!).
For authors, you’ll be happy to hear that LitNuts founders Mike O’Mary and Kathleen Meyer handled publishing and marketing for an indie press for more than 10 years. This is important because that means they understand the challenge of getting your books in front of readers.
LitNuts is an affordable vehicle that focuses on indie books and has engaged subscribers. Their goal is to help authors increase their book’s sales rank with online retailers, generate more reader reviews, and create positive word-of-mouth.
Toward that end, they are building a subscriber base of booklovers who want to hear from indie presses. And we are focused on keeping things simple and flexible for authors. They offer a flat price of $25, so it’s simple. No tiered pricing or convoluted advertising offers to analyze.
At the same time, they give authors the flexibility to advertise short story, essay and poetry collections, to link to your website so book lovers can purchase directly from you, and to set the price of your e-book according to your needs.
About LitNut and owners Kathleen Meyer and her father, Mike O’Mary:
LitNuts is a woman-owned, family-run business founded by Kathleen Meyer and her father, Mike O’Mary, who share a love of literature and reading. Kathleen is an avid reader with 10 years of marketing experience, including with Dream of Things, a small press founded by Mike in 2009. During its 10 year history, Dream of Things published three New York Times Bestsellers, three winners of the Hoffer Award, and one book that has been optioned for a film. Kathleen and Mike drew upon their experience of publishing and marketing books on a shoestring budget to create LitNuts, in the hope of helping other indie presses achieve success.
Authors and readers, visit LitNuts.com to sign up for their newsletter, where you can hear about incredible books from indie publishers that you wouldn’t hear about anywhere else.
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Join us WOW’s blog The Muffin as we celebrate the launch of LitNuts.com. Follow along the tour for excellent guest posts written by the owners, reader their interview with us, and enter a giveaway.
November 7th @ Michelle Cornish Visit Michelle Cornish’s blog today and you can read a guest post about a closer look inside the world of publishing. https://www.michellecornish.com/blog
November 10th @ Books, Beans and Botany Blogger Ashley Hubbard shares LitNut’s experiences with some of their favorite authors. A fun guest post you don’t want to miss! https://booksbeansandbotany.com/
November 11th @ Literary Quicksand
Jolissa will be interviewing the LitNuts founders, and discussing everything you’ll want to know about this amazing new bookish newsletter.
I suppose it’s arguable that everything I’ve ever read about the era in which the Second Son Chronicles are set has, in some way, influenced the creation of the narratives. After all, there’s a certain amount of osmosis that happens with every book we enjoy. But within that broad-brush landscape, some highlights do stand out (in no particular order).
Alison Weir’s non-fiction has been a rich source of details about life in Medieval and Renaissance times. Regardless of the specific subject, her books describe in great depth what daily life was like during these periods – it’s an immersive experience, and the osmosis factor helped me to create the world of the Chronicles.
I also found inspiration in Ken Follett’s Kingsbridge series, particularly The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. Follett’s detailed depiction of the building of the great Gothic cathedrals got me thinking about architecture, engineering, and building from Roman times through the Renaissance and led to the inclusion of some building projects in my own books. His narrative of the inventive ways that those outside mainstream medicine of the day began to understand the nature of the spread of infection and the importance of hygiene and other methods for containing it helped inspire my own exploration of how people dealt with disease over six hundred years ago.
Whether it’s in the shield wall with Uhtred of Bebbanburg or in the fields of Agincourt with Henry V, Bernard Cornwell doesn’t shy away from the gritty and brutal realism of the battlefields of long ago. My battle scenes pale by comparison to Cornwell’s ability to bring the sights and sounds and stench and fear and blood-lust of medieval war to life. But I happily acknowledge my debt to him for showing how to make my battles more realistic than they might otherwise have been.
While the time period is much earlier than that of my stories, Jack Whyte’s re-imagining of the Arthurian legends in his Camulod Chronicles influenced a number of decisions I made for my own series. Whyte postulates a world that might have existed in post-Roman Britain and an entirely realistic history that could, in the absence of any surviving written record, have been the basis for the legends. So what does this have to do with the Second Son Chronicles?
My stories are set at the dawn of the Renaissance, a time when so much is well-known about the characters and events of northern Europe. Asking readers to accept that an entirely different set of royalty, nobility, and events could have existed seemed like too great a suspension of disbelief. But if Whyte could create an entirely imagined history, why couldn’t I create an imagined setting for my own narrative? If readers notice some similarities to northern Europe, then perhaps that only adds to the flavor of the world where my characters play out their lives.
I hope you enjoy reading the Second Son Chronicles as much as I’ve enjoyed bringing the stories to life.
At the dawn of the Renaissance, Alfred – the eponymous second son – must discover the special destiny foreseen for him by his grandfather. Now, the unthinkable has happened: Alfred’s brother is king. And it isn’t long before everyone’s worst fears are realized. Traditional allegiances are shattered under a style of rule unknown since the grand bargain that formed the kingdom was struck over two hundred years ago. These will be the most dangerous years of Alfred’s life, forcing him to re-examine his duty to personal honor and to the kingdom, while the threats posed by his brother constantly remind him of his father’s final words of advice. What choices will he have to make to try to protect the things he holds most dear?
Pamela Taylor brings her love of history to the art of storytelling in the Second Son Chronicles. An avid reader of historical fact and fiction, she finds the past offers rich sources for character, ambiance, and plot that allow readers to escape into a world totally unlike their daily lives. She shares her home with two Corgis who frequently reminder her that a dog walk is the best way to find inspiration for that next chapter.
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Join us as we celebrate the launch of Pamela Taylor’s blog tour for her book Pestilence. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win the first three books in her series “The Second Son Chronicles.”
I am honored to share with you a fantastic guest blog post from author and poet Elizabeth Hazen, as part of the wonderful blog tour for “Girls Like Us”.
For Christmas, which seems like three lifetimes ago, my parents gave my husband a book of interesting words from around the world*. An engineer who has a soft spot for spoonerisms, puns, and wordplay in every form, he found instant delight in this book. Did you know that Germans have a word for the weight we gain from stress-eating? Kummerspeck. Or that the Scots have a word for that awkward pause when you’ve forgotten the name of the person you’re introducing? Tartle. Among my favorites are the whimsical Swedish smultronställe, a place of wild strawberries; the romantic Italian dormiveglia, the space between sleeping and waking; and the essential Japanese tsundoku, that pile of unread books on my bedside table that grows with each passing month.
Needless to say, I took that book of words from my husband, adding one more to my stack.
Getting through my tsundoku – or at least managing it – is one of my goals for this summer. I am a teacher, and the summer brings with it the beautiful freedom of longer days and fewer responsibilities, but the lack of structure –ironically, frustratingly, and inevitably – invites bad habits and a gradual decline into despair over the time I fear I am wasting. As a result, I know I need to impose some kind of schedule – a routine that will keep me on track. Part of that routine, I have decided, will include reading more poetry.
One of the lessons I most love to teach to my seventh-grade students involves defining poetry. We examine a range of definitions – the top of our heads being blown off, the best words in the best order, language at its most distilled and most powerful. We can debate the specifics, note our preferences, but that words are the poet’s medium is indisputable. Imperfect, delicious, malleable, living, breathing words. It is my love of words that I always return to during the darkest moments, and boy are these days dark.
In a review of my recent collection, Girls Like Us, Nandini Bhattacharya defines the poem as “ineffable interrogator, ethicist and chronicler of human history.” Indeed, I certainly have found more accuracy and truth in poems than in the newspaper, more solace in poems than in meditation or exercise, more freedom in poems than in the endless walks I take to escape the confines of quarantine. As when I was in the thick of adolescent depression, poems come to rescue me, to remind me that the legacy of human sadness and loss and pain is infinite, but so is our legacy of resilience and power and change.
Perhaps poems allow us to do what the Dutch call uitwaaien: “to take a break and walk away from the demands of life to clear one’s head.” Or maybe life demands poems, and it is precisely in these moments of trauma and fear and violence that we must dive in head-first. Whatever they do, I am grateful for them. Here are several recent collections by women that I highly recommend. Each, in its own way, has given me what the Icelandic call radljóst: enough light to find my way.
Difficult Fruit by Lauren K. Alleyne, Peepal Tree, 2014
Thrust by Heather Derr-Smith, Persea Books, 2017
American Samizdat by Jehanne Dubrow, Diode Editions, 2019
The Miracles by Amy Lemmon, C&R Press, 2018
Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis, Knopf, 2016
Code by Charlotte Pence, Black Lawrence Press, 2020
How to Exterminate the Black Woman by Monica Prince, [Pank Books], 2019
American Lyric Trilogy by Claudia Rankine, Graywolf, 2004, 2014, 2020
The State She’s In by Lesley Wheeler, Tinderbox Editions, 2020
*The book of words I refer to is Other Wordly: Words Both Strange and Lovely from Around the World by Yee-Lum Yak with illustrations by Kelsey Garrity-Riley
Elizabeth Hazen is a poet, essayist, and teacher. A Maryland native, she came of age in a suburb of Washington, D.C. in the pre-internet, grunge-tinted 1990s, when women were riding the third wave of feminism and fighting the accompanying backlash. She began writing poems when she was in middle school, after a kind-hearted librarian handed her Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind. She has been reading and writing poems ever since.
Hazen’s work explores issues of addiction, mental health, and sexual trauma, as well as the restorative power of love and forgiveness. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, American Literary Review, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, The Threepenny Review, The Normal School, and other journals. Alan Squire Publishing released her first book, Chaos Theories, in 2016. Girls Like Us is her second collection. She lives in Baltimore with her family.
Most of us have heard that walking is good for our bodies: walking can reduce our risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, dementia, diabetes, several types of cancer, and more. Some of us have heard that walking is good for our brains: walking can help improve our decision-making, boost our executive function, and fuel our creativity. And many of us have heard that walking is good for our emotional well-being: walking can boost our mood and can be a valuable tool in the battle against depression.
But what about loneliness? Can walking help there too?
We believe so. A study my company undertook last year revealed that women who regularly walk with their friends are 2.5 times less likely to feel lonely often.
Why is it that walking together is so powerful?
First, we are social beings and we are wired to crave — and enjoy — shared experiences. Researchers believe this comes directly from our biological need to belong: our ancestors were a whole lot safer walking in the woods with their tribe than they were walking the woods by themselves.
Second, our hormones help. Walking increases levels of oxytocin — a hormone that heightens our connections with others. So when you walk with a friend, your biology helps foster a deeper, more meaningful connection. And yes, oxytocin is the same hormone that is released during childbirth and nursing, which makes sense because it encourages us to bond with our babies.
Third, extensive research shows that our brains process differently when we are walking. Because only part of our brain is occupied with putting one foot in front of the other, the rest of our brain is free to roam, to think more deeply. More importantly, when we are walking together, we can comfortably take the moments of quiet to process and give ourselves the chance to think, and connect, more deeply.
Finally, because conversations tend to flow more easily and because walking together provides an activity — and one that takes place away from home — it is far more comfortable to invite a new friend for a walk than to invite them to your home. Indeed, many mom friendships have been formed from the question “Do you want to take a walk after school drop off?”
In short, walking together can be an incredibly powerful antidote to loneliness. It provides the perfect environment for conversation and connection. It offers time and space, free of distractions. It gives us the increased pleasure that comes from sharing an experience. It delivers a blast of oxytocin that encourages us to connect with one another. And it provides an easy way to begin to connect with a new friend.
About the Author
Joyce Shulman, founder and CEO of 99 Walks and Macaroni Kid reaches millions of moms each month with hyper-local and national e-newsletters and websites, social media content, video and her Weekly Walk podcast. Having created a one-of-a-kind digital platform, she connects families to the wonders of their own communities and inspires women to chase their dreams and crush their goals.
Her most recent endeavor, 99 Walks, is on a mission to combat loneliness and improve fitness through the simple act of encouraging moms to walk together. Her mission? Nothing short of getting a million women walking.
Throughout her two decades as an entrepreneur, Joyce has guided SAHMs, teachers and even MBAs to success. Joyce shares how moms need to “take care of mama bear” and avoid the “martyr mom syndrome.” Her experience in business and leading mompreneurs makes her a coveted speaker where she shares tactics for beating burnout, fueling creativity, goal crushing, how walking can fuel productivity and performance, and more.
Joyce received her Bachelor’s in Business Management from the University of Maryland and her Juris Doctor, Cum Laude, from St. John’s University School of Law. After law school, she spent more than a dozen years as a New York City lawyer where her practice focused on complex commercial litigation.
A self-confessed idea junkie, in 1998, Joyce abandoned law firm life to liberate her entrepreneurial spirit and focus on the things that are most important to her: family, community and empowering women to chase their dreams.
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us in celebrating the launch of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.