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If I had to describe the key to succeeding in indie publishing in one word, that word would be "active." For a profession that involves a great deal of sedentary activities, those who rest on their laurels find it very difficult to sell books on a consistent basis. You have to keep moving in order to grow your author brand. Here are the three crucial areas where you should concentrate most of your activity:

 

  1. ABW - Always Be Writing: If you want to get noticed, you have to have a track record in today's publishing world. One book will most likely not help you gain widespread notoriety. You need multiple books to create an author brand that will get you noticed and bring in the sales.
  2. ABM - Always Be Marketing: You can't have books on the market today without an author platform. A platform is simply your online presence. That presence in today's digital age includes your own website/blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. And this presence requires you to be present in order for it to be effective. Contribute to your online presence multiple times a day.
  3. ABI - Always Be Interacting: When you have your platform up and running, your readers are going to reach out to you. Don't ignore them. Interact with them. Let them know how appreciative you are for their support. The more you connect with them, the greater the support they'll give you.

 

The world of indie publishing is not for the lazy or unmotivated. It requires boundless energy to succeed. It requires that you be active.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Elements of the Author Brand
Building an Author Brand is Easy

 

7,668 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writing, branding
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Requesting feedback is a valuable - and critical - element of the writing process. When it's positive, feedback can encourage you to keep going when you might otherwise lack momentum. On a more granular level, it can reveal what's strongest about your writing, which characters and storylines readers respond to the most, etc. All in all, it's a wonderful motivator in what can be an extremely lonely endeavor.

 

 

Negative feedback, while sometimes (or perhaps always) tough to swallow, is equally important. Constructive criticism on plot, character development, dialogue, or even grammar can alert you to weaknesses in your writing - and give you time to address them before taking your manuscript to a bigger stage.

 

However, while many people would love to help you, not everyone is cut out to criticize the work of friends or family members. So unless you're sure the person in question will be completely honest with his or her opinion, good or bad, don't go there. If a friend tells you she loves your book simply because she doesn't want to hurt your feelings, she's actually doing you a disservice. (I always tell my early readers that I'd rather hear bad news from them now than read it in a one-star review later.)

 

If you don't have access to beta readers in your personal network, check out the following:

 

Write On by Kindle: Post a few pages or an entire manuscript. I like this site because authors can ask specific questions to readers, from "Is this a good idea for a book?" to "Are there too many storylines introduced in the first chapter?"

 

Note: As of this writing, Write On requires an invitation code to join. If that's still the case, try MMURNANE.

 

Wattpad: Many writers here post their work in a serial format, which encourages readers to come back. Talk about motivation to write that next chapter!

 

SheWrites: A wonderfully supportive community of aspiring and published (traditionally and indie) female authors. (Sorry guys!)

 

The above are just a sliver of the myriad available options. The key is to find an arrangement that works for you - and embrace it.

 

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, Cassidy Lane, and Katwalk. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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It's Never Too Early to Get a Little Help from Your Friends

Get Reviews for Your Indie Book

2,883 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, writing, feedback, wattpad, write_on_by_kindle, shewrites
2

I will start this blog post off with a straightforward proclamation: I am not an expert in writing historical fiction. I'm working on my first nonfiction piece that involves events in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I have never tackled historical fiction. I've enjoyed many a historical novel as a reader, but I'm frankly too terrified to tackle the genre as a writer.

 

I attended a writer's workshop recently where the work was read aloud and we, as a group, gave feedback in a friendly and constructive manner. It was a blast, and I was thrilled to take part. One participant presented his historical fiction piece, and I must admit when he was done, I felt I learned something I didn't know before about the historical event in his book.

 

However, he fell into a trap I could see becoming a huge problem for scribes of historical fiction. The short piece he read was chock-full of exposition. He felt the need to place every bit of action and dialogue into historical perspective so the reader would know why the action that was happening on the page was significant. It was as if he included entire passages from history textbooks into his story. It was jolting and didn't allow the story to flow.

 

As I ponder the reading now, I know why he included those passages. He wanted the readers to know why he felt the story was so important. A story, even one based on an historical event, has to matter to the characters, not the author. Let the characters live in the now. Don't explain why they're living in the now. Just let them live the story. The facts you want to include should find their way into the story through their perspective, not the author's, and the facts should only be included if they are significant to the characters in the context of the story, not history.

 

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Defining Characters through Action, Not Description
Rethinking History

2,117 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, historical_fiction, character_development
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Using Fiction Techniques for Writing Nonfiction - Helen Sedwick

How to get the logical side of your brain to have a little fun. 

                           

Eavesdropping for Story Ideas and Other Tips from a Veteran Novelist - The Book Deal

Bestselling author Warren Adler shares advice on writing and publishing.      

 

Film

                                                        

Do You Know What the Difference Between a T-Stop and an F-Stop Is? - Noam Kroll

Do you know your aperture settings?    

                                          

Attention, Filmmakers: Here's 10 Tips for Finishing Your Documentary - IndieWire

Defining the narrative structure of your documentary.  

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

How Valuable Is Your Voice? A Lesson from Van Gogh's Shoes - Judy Rodman

The marketplace does not determine the value of your voice.

 

How Changing It Up Can Help Build an Audience - musicgoat.com

If you want to draw more people to your shows, don't be so predictable.   

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Weekly News Roundup - December 19, 2014

Weekly News Roundup - December 12, 2014

1,773 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, book, music, film, documentary, author, self-publishing, promotion, movies, writers, blogging, writing, promotions, musicians, branding, audience, writing_tips, target_audience
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Confidence: it is a magnet for success. Athletes know it. Business moguls know it. Top entertainers know it. It's not necessarily a secret, but it can be an elusive state of being to achieve. Let's face it, if it were easy to feel confident, we'd all wave at each other from our own yachts. Earlier, I wrote about how to find your strength as a writer. This blog discusses why I think it matters.


Arrogance is often mislabeled as confidence. The two are similar in meaning, but while confidence attracts admirers, arrogance can repel them. Confidence means you are self-assured and comfortable with your ability to do well. Arrogance means you are overly-assertive in your insistence that you are the best. There are some cases where an arrogant attitude is fashionable. Athletes often insist they are the best at their sport, and they are forgiven because their prowess can be demonstrated on the field or on the court or in the ring.


 

Authors are less appreciated when labeled as arrogant. The key to building a successful author brand is to exude confidence without even trying. Here's how to tap into that Zen-like feeling: know your craft. Practice it every day. Understand the elements of story and constantly challenge yourself to be a subject matter expert when it comes to writing. Study your preferred genre. Know the intricacies of your chosen category. Never stop learning how to write better. And, as we discussed before, know your strengths.


 

If you are in a constant mode of growth as a writer, confidence is an inevitable side effect of that growth. If you want your author brand to succeed, never rest on your laurels. Live in a state of Zen by creating confidence through knowledge, both of your craft and yourself.


 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Evaluating Your Author Brand
Be Authentic to Build Your Brand

2,399 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: marketing, author, promotion, writers, writing, branding, author_brand, brand_identity, author_advice
2

Knowing which punctuation to use with the word "however" is tricky. However, it's important to get it correct, so here's a brief explanation.

 

As demonstrated above, when "however" means "In spite of that" and appears at the beginning of a sentence, it is followed by a comma.

 

For example: However, it's important to get it correct, so here's a brief explanation.

 

When "however" means "in spite of that" but appears in the middle of a sentence, it is preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma.

 

For example: Knowing which punctuation to use with the word "however" is tricky; however, it's important to get it correct, so here's a brief explanation.

 

If "however" is in the middle of a sentence and can be removed without affecting the meaning of the sentence, it is preceded and followed by a comma.

 

For example: If you'd like to learn how to write correctly, however, please read this blog post.

 

Still confused? Understandable! Here are some more examples that show the difference:

 

INCORRECT: We were losing by 10 runs, however we came back and won the game.

 

CORRECT: We were losing by 10 runs; however, we came back and won the game.

 

ALSO CORRECT: We were losing by 10 runs. However, we came back and won the game.

 

INCORRECT: I really didn't think we were going to win the game, however I was clearly wrong.

 

CORRECT: I really didn't think we were going to win the game; however, I was clearly wrong.

 

ALSO CORRECT: I really didn't think we were going to win the game. However, I was clearly wrong.

 

Note: the same rules apply for "nevertheless," "nonetheless," etc.

 

The only time "however" doesn't require a comma afterward is when it serves as an adverb. For example:

 

CORRECT: I don't want to forgive her, however sorry she may be.

 

CORRECT: However he decides to get here, he'd better get here fast.

 

Believe me, I realize that knowing how to use "however" correctly can be quite confusing. However, if you keep this blog post handy, you might not have as much trouble!

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, Cassidy Lane, and Katwalk. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Grammar Tip: Who vs. That

Apostrophes Indicate Possession, Not Plural

2,537 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, grammar, however
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I hit a milestone this year in my publishing journey. The first novel I published was completed 10 years ago. How did I celebrate? I published a 10th anniversary edition of the book. While it is similar to the original, it is not the same book; there are significant differences.

 

Let me explain. About four years ago I spoke with an editor about releasing my first book traditionally. They loved the book, but they wanted major changes. Yeah, I'm not sure how that works either, but I took notes and then diligently did a rewrite incorporating the editor's "suggestions." I emailed the new version of the book to my agent and awaited my contract. After a couple of weeks, I got a figurative punch to the gut instead. The editor hated the changes. He thought I made the book worse and proceeded to send me on my way. My agent and a few other readers loved the new version, so we circulated it around and got some mild interest, but ultimately never got a contract offer. After getting the official word from my agent that there was nothing more he could do, I decided there was something I could do. I could self-publish it, and the timing couldn't have worked out better. I wrote the original in 2004, so I released the rewrite as the 10th anniversary, reimagined edition.

 

I was concerned that some readers may be upset that I was just trying to sell them the same book in different packaging, so I did a quick survey of readers to gauge demand and discovered that it would be well-received. I also used the author's note at the beginning of the new edition to explain why it existed.

 

How far are you into your publishing journey? Is it time to reimagine one of your early books? That's the beauty of the digital publishing age: alternate versions of books are not only feasible, they are starting to become commonplace. The comic book world has been releasing "alternate universe" versions of their storylines for decades. Why not novels? As long as you make enough changes to present a new story, retelling a story you've already told could be a viable publishing option.  

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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The Value of Rejection

Indie Freedom!

1,748 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, self-publishing, revisions, writing, launch, craft, book_launch_party, book_relaunch
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

 

Books/Publishing

 

Why You Should Welcome Anything Less than 5 Star Reviews - The Future of Ink

An interesting look at those less-than-stellar ratings. 

                           

How to Edit Your Self-published Book like a Pro in 8 Steps - Self-Publishing Review

How to make self-editing work.    

 

Film

                                                        

Need to Splice a Line In? Try Placing Your Edits in the Middle of the Word - Filmmaker IQ

Call it cutting inside the lines.    

                                          

Top 10 Tips for Being a Cinematographer - BBC News

Leave your ego at home if you want to be a great cinematographer.  

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

How to Create Amazingly Powerful Video Testimonials that'll Get More Gigs for Your Band - Gigging Success

Video testimonials are social proof your band is worth listening to.

 

How to Promote Music if You Don't Play Live - Bob Baker's TheBuzzFactor.com

If you're the kind of musician who makes music in the comfort of your own home, there's still a way for you to promote your songs.   

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Weekly News Roundup- December 12, 2014

Weekly News Roundup- December 5, 2014

1,976 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, music, filmmaking, film, author, writers, publishing, writing, films, musicians, filmmakers, reveiws, film_editing, editorial_reveiws, music_video, music_promotion
2

I did it. I participated in my very first NaNoWriMo. Well, more accurately, I kind of participated in NaNoWriMo. My project was nonfiction, and I had written 12,000 words prior to the November 1 start date. I essentially used the event to contribute 50,000 to my next book.

 

I have to say I found it utterly exhilarating. Getting up every day facing a new word count goal kept me hyper-focused on the book for 28 out of the 30 days. The first 14 mornings, after my coffee, of course, I sat at my computer and wrote 420 words. I then broke away and answered e-mails. Then I sat down to write 420 more words. Another break to tend to other work was followed by another 420-word writing session. The final 420-word session would come before dinner. Most days looked like this. The ones that didn't required slight adjustments due to other obligations. I took day 15 off and then broke my four sessions into 448 words each. I took one more day off and adjusted my word count sessions to make up for the lost time. In addition, I kept myself honest by updating my progress on my blog and Facebook every day.

 

I have written 12 books, but I have never done it with this much pressure before. I loved every minute of it. I am not finished by any stretch of the imagination. I have a very rough first draft that needs a lot of tender loving care, but thanks to NaNoWriMo, I have it in record time. If you have not participated in NaNoWriMo before, I would highly recommend it. Get ready for next November. I know I will be.

 

How was your experience with NaNoWriMo? Did you find, as I did, that the pressure helped keep you productive?

 

-Richard

 

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How to Get and Stay Motivated

Is the Early Bird More Creative?

1,555 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, writers, timeline, writing, nanowrimo, national_novel_writing_month, craft
3

No matter who publishes your book, I strongly believe that every author should have a launch party because writing an entire book is an accomplishment that deserves to be celebrated! Many indie authors, however, believe that launch parties cost a lot of money. They also believe that traditional publishers throw elaborate launch parties for all their authors.

 

Neither is true.

 

Each time I have a book come out, I have one launch party in New York, where I live, and one in Silicon Valley, where I grew up. My publisher doesn't pay for the parties, but neither do I. I don't pay for anything. I do, however, organize the events. And by "organize," I mean that I call up a bar and ask if I can have a book signing there. That's literally all I do. Most bar owners/managers would be thrilled to give you a table to sign books in exchange for your bringing in a small/medium/large group of patrons on a slow evening.

 

It's really that easy!

 

So there you go. There's nothing stopping you from doing exactly what I do. Find a cool bar on Yelp, call them up, ask to speak to the manager, and then have a friendly conversation. It might take a few calls to find the right venue, but you will find one. Then spread the word, sell some books, and enjoy! Who cares if you don't have any fans (yet)? Invite your family and friends. They will be happy to come!

 

NOTE: Don't forget to take photos, especially a few of yourself signing copies of your book. You might feel a little silly at the time, but trust me, it's not silly. Not at all!

You worked hard to become an author, so be proud of yourself and celebrate! You deserve it.

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, Cassidy Lane, and Katwalk. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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The Big Book Launch Follow-Up

Book Launch Sponsors

 

 

6,904 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, promotion, writing, book_launch_party
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Find Your Strength

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 15, 2014

In order to be able to successfully market yourself as a writer and build a strong author brand, you need to be confident in your writing abilities. We all have different things we do well as writers. Find what you do well, and you will be able to market yourself more effectively and with greater confidence. Here are four ways to identify your strength as a writer.

 

  1. Pretend you have been hired to write a book as a member of a team. Each team member is given the task of developing an element of story: character, dialogue, setting or plot. You are given the opportunity to choose which area you wish to develop. Which do you choose?
  2. Take the four elements of story listed above and write each one on a slip of paper. Place the slips of paper in a hat, shake the hat vigorously, close your eyes, and draw a slip of paper from the hat. Pretend that this element is how you will be judged as a writer. Write down how this makes you feel. Repeat this exercise as often as you wish.
  3. Describe in 140 characters or fewer what you do as writer that no other writer does. Make sure your description is clear. Be humble but confident. When you've crafted the perfect description of your uniqueness, tweet it out to your followers.
  4. Pretend you've been hired to design a curriculum for a novel-writing class. There are three exams in your class. Each exam can cover any subject you choose on writing a novel. But, the first and second tests each make up 25% of the final grade. The third test counts as 50% of the final grade. What are your three exams, and which one counts the most?

 

You should detect a consistency in the results of these four steps to identifying your strength. If you take the time to find your strength, you will be a more confident writer, and the readers will follow.

 

-Richard

 

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Productivity vs. Perfection

The Pitch Test

6,941 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, author, writing, identifying_your_strength
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Welcome to the Weekly News Roundup - a collection of news, advice and opinions from around the virtual globe.

 

Books/Publishing

 

Why the Writing Journey Is Just Like Skiing - The Creative Penn

It's time to get off the bunny slopes. 

                           

How to Sell More Books to the Right Target Audience - The Future of Ink

When you're trying to find a target audience, picture one ideal reader.      

 

Film

                                                        

Filmmaking in Virtual Reality - Digital Production ME

Is virtual gaming the future of filmmaking?    

                                          

Filmmaking As Your Small Business - Filmmaking Stuff

How hard is it to turn your film into a small business?  

                                                                                                                                              

Music

 

How to Maintain a Guitar - Guitar Lessons and Equipment

If your guitar isn't kept in a hard case, chances are it needs some maintenance.

 

Filter It Out! - Audio Fanzine

Do you know your subtractive synthesis?   

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

 

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Weekly News Roundup - December 5, 2014

Weekly News Roundup - November 28, 2014

1,617 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, music, filmmaking, movies, writers, readers, publishing, writing, films, promotions, musicians, filmmakers, social_media, target_audience, filmmaking_tips
1

We indie authors are a spoiled bunch. We are free to write and publish anything we want. Traditionally published authors are blocked from such freedoms. They are restricted in a lot of ways that don't apply to our freewheeling publishing lifestyle, including when their book is published. A lot of indie writers publish as soon as the final draft is done. Some authors follow a book release schedule. So which is the best approach?

 

I'm of the opinion that setting up a release schedule is the optimum strategy since there are constraints that no longer exist in today's publishing world. More than anything, scheduling allows you to plan for a release. You can get the word out in advance and build momentum heading into the release date.

 

 

Here are two things to consider as you create your release schedule:

 

  1. Pay attention to the seasons. Book sales tend to be slightly better in the winter and fall than in the spring and summer. That's not to say you should never release a book in the spring and summer. If you have a story with a spring and/or summer theme, you should take advantage of the tie-in.

  2. Speaking of tie-ins, if your book's theme centers on a holiday or an event, you should schedule your release to coincide with that holiday or event. A tie-in release provides a lot of natural marketing opportunities.

 

As indie authors we have unprecedented freedom when it comes to release of our books.  But, this is a business. You are better served if you plan a release using the methodology of your choice in order to maximize the impact on initial sales. 

-Richard                                                  

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Book Launch Sponsors

The Launch Party

2,369 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: selling, promotion, writing, book_marketing, promotions, launch, craft, branding, book_launch, book_release, _
1

Lie vs. Lay

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Dec 9, 2014

I recently started taking a crazy fitness class at my gym. I like the instructor, but I secretly think he may be trying to kill us! I spend most of the class praying for it to be over, keeping one eye on the clock while trying not to fall off the medicine ball, or out of my plank, or messing up some equally torturous position.

 

When the time to catch our breath and stretch finally comes, I'm always thrilled. However, I often have a hard time relaxing right away because the instructor makes the same error every class: He says "Lay down on your backs," and it makes me cringe. (My yoga instructors often make this same mistake.)

 

Im not going point out my instructors error to him because hes not a writer. But I know this one can be confusing even for writers, so I thought it was worth explaining in my blog:

 

You LAY something else down. You LIE yourself down.

 

In the present tense, here are some examples:

 

Correct: I lay the fork next to my plate.

Correct: We lie down on our backs at the end of class and rest.

Correct: To end this war we must lay down our arms.

Correct: If we lie down and stay still, maybe they wont see us.

In the past tense, things get a little tricky. You LAID something else down. You LAY yourself down.

 

Correct: I laid the fork next to my plate.

Correct: We lay down on our backs at the end of class and rested.

Correct: To end the war we laid down our arms.

Correct: We lay down and stayed still, hoping they wouldnt see us.

 

In the present perfect and past perfect tenses, you HAVE LAID or HAD LAID something else down. You HAVE LAIN or HAD LAIN yourself down.

 

Correct: I have often laid the fork next to my plate.

Correct: We have lain down and rested on our backs at the end of every class.

Correct: To end the war we had laid down our arms.

Correct: We had lain down and remained still, hoping they wouldnt see us.

 

Im not going to lie; this can be a little confusing! But like all grammar, its also important. So lay down your pen and think about it before you put anything in ink.

 

-Maria

 

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, Chocolate for Two, Cassidy Lane, and Katwalk. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Grammar Tip: She and I, Not Her and I

Grammar Tip: Don't Overcapitalize

2,172 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: author, writers, writing, craft, writing_advice, grammar_tip, grammar_advice
1

I had the occasion to discuss change with a group of people this past week. Not good change, but unexpected turmoil. I was the only writer in the group, and as I listened to everybody talk about the unwanted moments they've dealt with, I framed it the only way I know how. I put it into the context of writing a book.

 

Writers count on change. We have a kind of strange faith in it. We write a first draft knowing that change is inevitable. To us, the concept of change isn't a scary thing. At least it shouldn't be. Rewrites are opportunities to make things better, to improve our story.

 

The folks in the room hated going through the changes they were faced with, but ultimately they adjusted and found a new perspective that made them happy. That's the same thing we do during rewrites. We take material that we may be excited about, only to come to realize changes need to be made. We adapt and gain a new perspective. These bumps in the road that we experience when writing a book (and even in life) simply need reframing in order to be seen for what they really are: an opportunity to improve.

 

Last night, I talked to a writer after a writing workshop in which material was read and critiqued by the other members of the group. It's a terrifying thing to go through. This writer admitted to me that she didn't take the feedback very well the first time she participated in the workshop. She took all the criticism personally, but when she got home and looked at the material, she realized the changes people had recommended really did make the story better.

 

Don't fear the bad breaks in writing or in life. They are opportunities for you to gain a new perspective that will make your life better.

 

-Richard

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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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It's Never Too Early to Get a Little Help from Your Friends

Be Open to Constructive Criticism

1,903 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, revisions, writing
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