Writing your first book – what makes your’s unique

So you’ve decided to try your hand at writing books have you?  But, since you’ve never done it before where do you start? Some people would instruct you to just sit down and write while others would say start with an outline.  Even if you do a combination of these things you still may not know where to start.

There are thousands of authors out there.  Some are very good and some are not so good. My goal is to be among the very good ones, and my guess is you want the same thing. How do you get there though is the question? And with thousands of authors out there and hundreds of thousands of books what’s so unique about your book that makes it stand out above the others?  Well, I may be getting ahead of myself so let me step back and talk about where you start.

My first book was “my story” and because it was a true story the words just flew from my mind as I sat down to type.  It’s sometimes much easier to write about something you have “lived” than it is to “create” a story. I would suggest you think back on a strong memory from your past and sit down and write about it.  Writing about something that you intimately know about is good practice.  Even if you never publish it, it will get your juices going and stimulate your writing abilities. Think about it as writing a diary or a journal and write what happens on day one, then day two, and so on.

If you have never written a book before, I’d suggest you find an instructional book to help you, and read as many articles as you can about the subject. There are also many blogs on the subject. Brian Klem’s blog offers a lot of tips about writing in general. Writer’s Digest also offers many work shops for writers.

Regardless of who you subscribe to or how many blogs you read, start your adventure with writing something every day. It could change your life.

“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.” – Les Brown

Book writing – your own unique adventure

Are you ready for an adventure?

I most certainly am.  My life changed drastically last year.  I entered the world of retirement.  After 35 plus years of getting up every Monday through Friday to be at a specific place at a specific time and do something for a specific person, I’m free!!!  Free to do something else; something meaningful; something rewarding; something unique.

So I sat out on my little adventure of writing books.  My first creation was to make a whole new world for a little bug.  How did I do this you might be asking?

Make a plan

First, I had to make a plan.  I had always had a dream of writing a book but I was always too intimidated to try.  I felt like I couldn’t do it because I was not educated in this field.  But my dream outweighed my skepticism.  After much thought I decided to try my hand at writing children’s books and created the main character.  Then I mapped out my plan:

1) Write a series of five books – The Adventures of Danny Cricket (Volumes One through Five) was born. They are unique books in that they have adventure, are inspirational, offer diversity and offer a bit of history for the reader.

2) Hire an illustrator – First things first.  How do I find one? Then which one do I hire?

3) Find a publisher – Whether or not to self-publish or go the traditional route was the real question.

4) Market the books – There’s so much marketing options. Which ones were best for my books?

5) Set up business – Do you want to play around or are you serious?  Well, I was serious so I took this on and the rest is history.

Implement your plan

My plan with the above five steps has a lot of fine details and that’s what I’m working on implementing.  I’ll admit the marketing has been the hard part and not so fun at times.  My desire is to write so I gravitate to that activity more often than marketing.  But, you have control over this so put it on paper then just keep going.  Find whatever it is that motivates you to push forward and do that one thing first thing in the morning when you get up.

Revise your plan

Sometimes the best laid plans just don’t pan out like you had thought or hoped they would.  Example, part of my marketing plan was to participate in book festivals and fairs.  The first book festival which was actually my debut was sponsored by an ice cream parlor in a shopping plaza (there were other sponsors but this was the main one).  Mainly local authors were invited to come.  There was nominal fee for authors and very few limitations on how big or small your set up could be.  I gave it the works.  Sold a fair amount of books and loved the experience.  The next book festival had a $125 fee for emerging authors and you dropped your books off and competed with all of the other new authors, and you were prohibited from being in the tent.  To say the least my books were lost among all of the other books out there.  So, when you examine your plan capitalize on what has worked and what has not.  Until you start making real money I’d recommend you stay away from things that have proven to cost you more money than you make.

Next week

I’ll talk about writing your first book.  Where do you start? Who should you consult with, etc.

Want to win a signed copy of the first three chapters of my new novel scheduled to be out by the end of 2014?  “Share” the Contest Post on my author FB page  https://www.facebook.com/AnnetteRBurrell and/or retweet the Contest post on my twitter page @burrellanet

Want a unique children’s book?  Look for The Adventures of Danny Cricket on Amazon.com and other on-line retailers.


I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends (Series 1)

Have you ever needed your friends to help you with something? Well, it happens all the time.  Some things you can do on your own, while many things need more than one person.

Let’s take “relocation” for instance.  You’ve lived in an apartment or house for numerous years, collecting “things” along the way.  Small things, medium sized things, and quite a  few large sized things (if I were to guess).  But who’s guessing, I’ve been there myself.  Take for instance in July of 1985 . . . yeah, I know that dates me, but whatever.  I was 8 months’ pregnant and, you guessed it, we were moving.  I’m sure you are thinking, we couldn’t have planned it any better; and you would be right!  It was an extremely hot and dry summer, but the worst part was that by being 8 months’ pregnant I couldn’t do any heavy lifting.  So we called upon our many friends and the guys got to work.  It took two of them to carry the sofa, bedroom furniture, and large appliances.  They were in and out of the house most of the day loading the truck, and then had to unload it at the end of the day.  We had pizza at the end of the day as our way of thanking them for helping us. And, for all you critiques out there . . . I would have cooked a really good meal for everyone but all my cookware was in boxes.  So pizza, it was.  Delicious.

Spring forward to current day:  I just recently volunteered to coordinate something at church and knew that I would need other volunteers to help me.  So naturally I reached out to my friends first and within several hours I had all of the help that I needed to fill the slots.  The event hasn’t happened yet, but I know I can count on my friends to be there!

Back in time again: There are times when friends just show up because they know you need them.  You don’t ask them, they just “DO”.  Like, when my mom passed away a few years ago.  It was hard.  She lived in another state and I had been away from my home for several weeks because of her illness and there was the likelihood that she wasn’t going to last much longer.  The day came when she passed away and then preparations had to be made for the funeral service.  She would be flown back to my home town to be buried and so my sisters and I helped my dad make the arrangements.  My friends showed up in full force to help clean my house and bring meals.  My sister’s friends provided meals which we munched on for days. My brother’s church provided a spread of covered dishes for family and friends to have after the funeral service the day my mom was buried.  People coming together for us in our time of need was truly a blessing.

I was thinking about what great friends I have just this morning and the song by The Beatles “With a Little Help From My Friends” popped into my head.  You know the song right?  I believe music is the pathway to the soul.  And one song can take on different meanings for different people.  Songs are analyzed often to give listeners the “true meaning” of what the song writer was thinking at the time they wrote the song.  This holds true for this song as well, but I choose to just listen to the song and interpret it for myself.  This way it speaks directly to me.  I hope I am making myself clear.  Here’s what the song means for me  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBDF04fQKtQ

What would you think if I sang out of tune
Would you stand up and walk out on me?
Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
And I’ll try not to sing out of key
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm going to try with a little help from my friends

What do I do when my love is away?
(Does it worry you to be alone?)
How do I feel by the end of the day?
(Are you sad because you’re on your own?)
No I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm going to try with a little help from my friends

(Do you need anybody?)
I need somebody to love
(Could it be anybody?)
I want somebody to love

(Would you believe in a love at first sight?)
Yes I’m certain that it happens all the time
(What do you see when you turn out the light?)
I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm I get high with a little help from my friends
Oh I’m going to try with a little help from my friends

(Do you need anybody?)
I just need somebody to love
(Could it be anybody?)
I want somebody to love

Oh I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm going to try with a little help from my friend
Oh I get high with a little help from my friends
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends
With a little help from my friends

The song was written specifically for Ringo, who didn’t sing lead that often. And was written in a conversational style so the other three Beatles could ask him questions and he would respond back to them.  I especially love the first four lines:  What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me?  Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song. And I’ll try not to sing out of key.

What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me?

I say . . . SING!  Sit next to me in choir and if you sing out of tune, so what. Make a joyful noise!!!

Lend me your ears, and I’ll sing you a song.  And I’ll try not to sing out of key. 

I love to sing. And, I’ll sing for anyone who will listen.  I may not always be on key, but it brings me joy to sing.  I don’t have to worry so much about it when I’m in choir because I’m blending in with all my friends and they are helping me to sing out!!!

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends

Hm, what was that note again?

Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

Thank you guys for your support!

Oh I get high with a little help from my friends

I get my energy from you more often than you think!!!

Yes I get by with a little help from my friends!!!

After all . . .  “that’s what friends are for”.

Rejoice in the Lord

Phillipians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice.

The journey began as I had my first reading of “The Adventures of Danny Cricket – Danny Cricket Visits the River Walk” (Volume 1).  Reading to kindergartners and first graders brought such joy to my heart last month.  I was able to talk about how Danny Cricket came to life and describe the connection between Danny Cricket and the frontiersman David Crocket.  This being my first reading I was a bit worried that I would not have enough information to fill my 40 minute time slot.  My fears instantly subsided as the children entered the room and were eager to hear about Danny Cricket and his friends.  They were truly engaged in the presentation by answering questions and volunteering to dress up as the characters of the first book.  The longer I shared with the children the more joy filled my heart.  To see the smiles on their faces and feel the excitement in their hearts was confirmation that God was pleased.  I rejoice in the Lord everyday that he has given me this gift of writing as a way to share his Word with children.  I pray God continues to bless me in this area, and I rejoice with you as you begin or continue in your journey as an author also.  God bless you!!!