Hello! Summer is here and it’s time to plan some summer vacation fun! If you decide to take a trip, I want to share a few tips with you. Whether you’re a seasoned explorer, or about to set out on your first journey of adventure, traveling is a great experience. It can also be an important way to learn interesting things about our country or this world, the people, and their cultures.
Don’t rush! Spend time to fully experience everything you can about the location you’ve chosen to visit. You will have so many more happy memories!
Here are my tips for you:
Take advantage of travel during non-peak periods, if you plan to travel later in the year. Costs are usually less for everything from flights and accommodations, to entrance fees and attractions. And, there are fewer crowds.
Baby Boomer tip: Use any discounts you qualify for. One of the perks of being a senior citizen is the wide range of travel discounts that are now available to you.
Go for longer visits. Spend time at your destination. Plan to see just one city, or country, and experience it more thoroughly. That’s the best way to soak in the local flavor.
You might appreciate someone else making the arrangements, and group travel provides security for solo travelers, or if you’re not confident about planning all the details on your own. Groups eliminate worries about finding transportation, missing an important site, or not speaking the language, if you are traveling abroad.
If you prefer to go it alone, it’s important to do your research: Decide on your destination, then search the Internet for flights; browse hotel and restaurant reviews, and read up on what to see in the places you’re planning to visit. Preparing can be part of the fun of travel, too! If you have any concerns about getting around or being able to visit popular sites, look for day tours with reliable companies, especially those offering front-of-the-line access, or other methods for avoiding the crowds.
And last, seek out new experiences. Make a to-do list for your visit — and when you’re there, don’t forget to enjoy yourself!
I hope these tips give you insights and inspiration. Safe travels!
Please “like” and share this post with your friends!
You’ve done all your research for your story — now what? In today’s post, I will show you how to create a storyboard for a book.
When you’ve completed your research, the next thing to do is create a “Beat Sheet.” It’s a way to organize your story into a sequence of events. Each action is a “Beat” that you can write down on a legal-sized notepad. It doesn’t have to be a whole sentence. Just jot down the action points of your story. I keep my notepad as a back-up, to compare my first ideas with what I come up with later in this process. When you’re done, use those beats to create sentences and paragraphs, and you’ve created your “Outline.”
Don’t panic! You don’t have to “reinvent the wheel.” There are many book and online sites by reputable authors willing to show you how to structure your story and develop your characters. There are formulas about how a story should be told, and it’s best to learn the rules before you decide to break them!
Now that you’ve got your outline, it’s time to put all the pieces together. The best way to organize your outline so you can work with it is to create a storyboard. It can be a cork board with pins, or whatever material and size that works for you and your living space. It’s important to choose one big enough to hold all the scraps of your ideas for your book. I chose a white board about 4 feet by 3 feet. It’s large and sits on a heavy-duty easel held by clamps. It’s what works for me.
I didn’t know all this before I wrote A Shadow Away, which was written by a method called “seat of the pants.” I was lucky to have a good background in storytelling for my first book, which leaped from my imagination fully fledged—with revisions, of course. Remember what even a notable author like Steven King said, “Writing is rewriting.”
Before writing my second book, All Under Heaven, where Alex, my hero of the “Alex Cort Adventures” series, is teleported to ancient China, must rescue Andrew and save a doomed ghost, I took time to research “the rules” and found all the things like plot points and structure and beat sheets I’m sharing with you here. And that’s when I learned about storyboards.
I use 70 divisions for my board, divided into the 4 different parts of my storyline: Introduction, Create the Drama, Escalate the Drama, Resolve the Drama with a satisfying ending. To help me find the section I want to work with, I numbered small post-its from 1-10, 11-20, etc. up to 61-70, and stuck them, evenly spaced, on the left side of my board. What’s great about a board set up this way, is that you can shuffle your plot ideas around as new ones come to you or when you need an extra section to expand on a previous idea. It’s very flexible this way, and the board also allows you to scan the flow of your plot after changes, to make sure you’re staying on track.
At first, I just posted my ideas under colored pin-magnets, which you can also get at an office supply store. I didn’t number each note until a friend pointed out how awful it would be if my board got knocked over. I didn’t even want to think about that happening! Previously, I had color-coordinated the four plot parts, but after I got that advice, I numbered every single one of the notes placed in the 70 segments, and paperclipped each segment for double protection. It took some time, because I was nearly through posting my plot ideas, but it’s worth doing for peace of mind.
I hope this idea works for you. It will simplify your life, believe me!
For a more comprehensive tour of my latest storyboard, watch the video below:
Video: How to Create a Storyboard for a Book
If you enjoyed today’s post, please “like” it and share it with your friends!
These days many people feel they have a story to tell and want to write a book. If you are one of them and don’t have a clue how to get started, here are five helpful tips for how to start writing a book.
Before everything else, do your homework!
There are several different kinds of research that must be done before you ever sit in front of your computer or pick up that pencil to create your work of art. Learn from others who have gone before you and made mistakes. It’s not necessary to “reinvent the wheel” when published authors want to share tried and proven ways to structure your story and develop your characters. Buying their books is an investment in your future.
If you don’t know where to start, begin by writing what you know.
When you write about a subject you are familiar with, you have a deeper understanding and appreciation for that subject than if you picked something to write about because you think a certain story might sell.
Even more important than knowing something about your particular subject, is to select one that interests you. If what you write about is interesting to you, there is a good chance your topic will be interesting to others, as well.
Learn all you can about the story you want to tell.
Now the second phase of research begins. Don’t be disappointed! Research can actually be a lot of fun when you are learning about a topic you enjoy or one that interests you. Libraries are full of books from which you can glean information. I mention libraries first, because they are a great place to be quiet and organize your thoughts. I take a notebook with me and write down all the interesting facts I find surrounding my story. You will learn a lot of other facts along the way, and that can be very interesting too.
Computers are the more usual mode of creating documents these days, I know, but there is something satisfying about the mind/hand coordination of the written word when doing research.
Don’t worry about what is pertinent, just write down everything you think might have some bearing on your story. You might not use all the facts you garner, but you will find enough useful information that can be put somewhere to add depth to your story.
Some people like to listen to music, but I find complete silence and undisturbed writing time is the best way to get my thoughts on paper. You will find what works best for you if you are really serious about writing your novel.
Create a storyboard.
The best way to organize your thoughts about your storyline is to create a storyboard. I use a white board with colored magnets to anchor the different parts of my story.
There are four basic parts to every novel, and each has a purpose. The first part introduces your story idea and makes the rest of your story meaningful. The second part places in jeopardy the characters your readers have come to care about. The third part increases the level a drama, and the fourth part deals with the resolution of the hero/heroine’s conflicts, the pay off for everything he or she had to endure, and a satisfying ending.
I wrote my first story by the “seat of your pants” method. That is an actual term! Some writers choose this method when the story flows into their imaginations. The characters they’ve created “come to life” and the story takes the writer into that imaginary world, complete with action and dialogue.
I was fortunate because I had a good idea of plot structure and the points necessary to move my story along. Again, there are many “How To” books by published authors who are willing to show you how to structure your story from introduction to denouement. Focus on the plot and setting, decide on the characters who will best tell your story, and how to introduce the conflict(s) facing your hero. Will the main character narrate? Whose point of view is important to your story? These and other questions can be found at reputable websites. Don’t be afraid to explore! There is a lot of useful information available. Choose what works best for you.
There are rules about how a story should be told, and it’s best to learn the rules before you decide to break them!
When you feel prepared — just start!
Don’t worry about being perfect, just get your thoughts down at the beginning. Later on, as you get into your story, you may think of better ideas, or another way to approach a situation. It’s always easier to correct some idea with a better thought than to wait for the perfect inspiration, which may never come.
I hope these tips help you to get started. Writing is an exciting journey, and I hope it brings you joy. I wish you the best of luck!
If you enjoyed today’s post, please like it and share it!
This week I’d like to share with you some of the many myths and legends that have captured my imagination over the years and inspired me to write A Shadow Away, then the magical adventure series “Alex Cort Adventures.”
The first legend I wanted to write about is El Dorado. People still wonder about the Lost City of Gold, and just like Atlantis, nobody knows where it actually might be. In a jungle, certainly, but which one?
I chose to place my El Dorado somewhere in the vast expanse of Brazil. I love Brazil. I love the music and their joy for living, so naturally I was drawn to that location. Languages have always fascinated me, too, so I set about learning the words and phrases I would need to tell my story.
That’s part of what makes writing fun. I like learning about people, their culture, their language. It makes the story more interesting to me and I think to you who enjoy reading about the escapades of my favorite characters. Three main characters tell the stories: Alex, ex-cop detective and art theft recovery expert, is curious and brings a sense of adventure. Eccentric Andrew, the archaeologist, loves the dichotomy of science and superstition. Angel brings magic, fantasy, and the supernatural to my stories. With her, I can weave time travel, teleportation, mythical creatures and paranormal beings into my stories.
I love to write about magic, adventure, and lost treasures, so one book turned into a six-book series when I thought of so many other legends that color our world.
In my second book, All Under Heaven, I write about ancient China and the First Emperor, Qin (pronounced Chin) Shi Huang. The word “China” came from his name. Qin searched for the mythical Ninth Cauldron to legitimize his reign. Alex must find the cauldron to save Andrew and rescue a doomed ghost. Will he succeed? Magicians and sorcerers want him to fail.
Atlantis is the mythical theme of my third book, Secrets of the Crystal Skulls. Who doesn’t still wonder where Atlantis is and what happened to it after all these centuries?
I put my own twist on the fate of Atlantis with a sorcerer who tries to control its destiny with a giant crystal obelisk. Alex, Andrew, and Angel will have to time-travel, enter the Underworld, and try to defeat the sorcerer who still has his own agenda.
Irish Legends of woodland faeries, elves, and leprechauns—who doesn’t love them! My fourth book will be called The Black Horseman. Mermaids, trooper faeries, beings and creatures who live in the Otherworld, perhaps even a mis-placed Excalibur, will feature in this adventure.
Book five, a prequel, tells the tale of when Alex first joins Andrew. A treasure recently unearthed at a dig outside Saqqara suddenly disappears but who, or what, stole it and why? So many myths! So many legends! It will be fun to weave a story from these threads.
The sixth book in the “Alex Cort Adventures” begins outside Mexico City at the ruined Temple of the Sun at Teotihuacan. Ancient Aztec rituals, the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl, and ghosts from the past all figure in a chase that leads Alex and his friends in a pursuit from Mexico through the capitals of Europe.
That all sounds exciting even to me! Can’t wait to write the rest of these stories, and I hope you enjoy reading them. See you next week!
Please take a moment to “like” and share my post with your network of friends, myths and legends lovers, or fellow writers!
This week I’d like to write first about TV shows that expand my imagination. Everyone benefits from new ideas, and writers thrive on inspiration. I especially enjoy science programs, because there is almost always something that triggers an idea for a plot or storyline.
One of my favorite TV shows is How the Universe Works. Scientists are making many discoveries that can add fuel to science fiction writers’ imaginations, because what we are discovering “out there” is often more strange and bizarre than the most vivid writer’s imagination. I also like Secrets of the Earth, because even our own world is far more active and volatile and less safe for many of us than we like to believe. From tornadoes to floods, from wild fires burning out of control to the latest volcanic eruption, the mostly safe world we knew before is starting to fight back.
National Geographic, NOVA, and the Science Channel all offer insights into this wonderful world we live in. When I see the beauty of nature and the abundance of myriad creatures that surround us, I realize how fragile the world is that has been created here.
Magazines offer a great deal of information I find interesting, too. I’ve always been fascinated by earlier cultures and civilizations, and Archaeology magazine delivers the latest discoveries and updated opinions about what transpired before our own civilization progressed, from hunter-gatherers to farmers, to the beginnings of our first cities.
Discover and Smithsonian magazines always have articles I find interesting in a social context, as well as nuggets of some new piece of information I can use to think about as a writer to further a story line or create another plot for a new adventure.
My oldest and dearest friends are the many books I’ve read over the years. Besides a love of art and music, I developed an early interest in science as well. I always loved adventure stories, and the magical fairytales collected by the Brothers Grimm. The books of Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series are very entertaining stories of mystery and archaeology, which have always appealed to me. Other favorites include books like The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra, and Steven Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.In Search of Schroedinger’sCat, by John Gribbin, afforded me an introduction into the strange and unpredictable world of quantum physics. So, you can see how I wove all the threads of what I learned over the years into my magical adventure series Alex Cort Adventures.
I believe research can be fun. If you are reading about something because it interests you, chances are it will be interesting to friends or your readers as well. At the very least, you will always have something new to talk about!
A number of movies have been inspiring and entertaining over the years as well. Who doesn’t love Star Wars and Indiana Jones. And now there is a new take on an older story, A Wrinkle in Time.
Tell me about your favorites — I’d love to know! Where do you get new story ideas?
Please “like” and share this post with your friends!
This week, I’d like to talk about the things I love most. The things that make me happy, and what I miss when there’s not enough time in the day to enjoy them.
I’ve always been an artist. I like working with my hands, so drawing came easily when I was still very young. I started out drawing rearing horses, because, like most young girls my age, I loved horses. We were lucky enough to live in the country outside San Diego, and my family always had a variety of pets: dogs, cats, rabbits for 4-H . . . even guinea pigs, and a white rat named Lightning. I just naturally came to love animals of all kinds, and that led to me wanting to draw them.
I started out with pencil sketches, then later charcoal drawings led to oil painting, and finally I discovered bronze sculpture. I always focused on animals as my subjects because of their sweet natures, and they were my friends. Living near the San Diego Zoo gave me the opportunity to study wild animals, and now I enjoy capturing their expressions in two-dimensional bas-relief sculptures. I did create a number of three-dimensional freestanding pieces, but I found it was their faces that interested me most.
At about that same time, I saw a TV program featuring Andrew Rodriguez. He is from New Mexico and created bas-relief images of Indian Spirits emerging from a flat background. His technique captured my attention, so I started experimenting with his style. I tried to make my images impressionistic, as his were, but I kept going back and adding more realism, until I developed my own style. It was an enjoyable journey of discovery!
The joy of playing music came to me later in life. I took piano lessons for seven years, and that gave me a good background for learning other instruments. I saw a video of a concert by Yanni called “Live at the Acropolis.” It changed my life. A woman in a red dress played her violin with so much joy and enthusiasm that I said to myself, “I want to do that!” I persuaded my husband that I really, really wanted to learn how to play like Karen Briggs, and he gave me a gift of a beautiful violin.
I started out learning to play Irish music, because that is one of my family’s histories. It is joyful music, and it’s a lot of fun to play with other people. I learned to play classical music because it is important to learn to play the violin correctly. There is a lot of technique involved, from holding the bow and violin properly, to learning how to play “up the neck.”
I always loved the sound of a banjo, and I just got it in my head that I wanted to learn to play the three-finger Earl Scruggs style. I think it was hearing Steve Martin play “Rocky Mountain Breakdown” that motivated me! I love that tune, and took some lessons to get started. I also love Bossa Nova, and when my husband got a guitar to accompany me, I “borrowed” it to teach myself that beautiful music with several instruction videos.
That’s all for now. See you next week!
If you enjoyed today’s post, I encourage you to “like” it and share it! Thank you!
I named him Barnabus. Probably not the best name for one so majestic and regal. He appeared larger than most of his species and darker in color, with a rounded, brownish-gray streaked chest and banding on the tail. These physical characteristics and the artful way he soared low through the forest canopy identified Barnabus as a juvenile Broad-Winged Hawk. I first caught sight of him while sitting on my back deck in Georgia one late spring day. He perched on the gate of my wooden fence just beyond the treeline, watching me as curiously as I watched him. Spring turned into summer, and visits from Barnabus became a daily occurrence. We would sit “together” and gaze at each other for 20 minutes at a time — he on the gate, me on the deck. No more than 10 yards separated us. This was unusual behavior for such a raptor, as they are known to avoid human interaction. His magnificence entranced me. I often wondered what he thought of me? On occasion, he brought a girlfriend. I named her Angelique. Both would rest on the gate until, by some unspoken agreement, they would turn to the woods and fly off together through the trees. To me, we felt like old friends by the time summer passed. When autumn arrived, Barnabus and Angelique disappeared, I feared forever. But when the warmth of summer returned, so did my glorious hawks. Our gazing sessions resumed, just as before.
Many times I was tempted to photograph one or both of them. I did so only once, though, and that image is shown here. It felt like a violation of trust, somehow, so I didn’t attempt it again.
Soon it will be summer once more, and I will be there on my deck, waiting and watching for my two special friends. But even if they don’t return, they have left me with a sense of peace and gratitude for nature in all her grace.
Kathleen Carper has more than three decades of experience writing and editing professionally for the manufacturing, non-profit and construction sectors. Now retired, she is exploring her more creative side, through nature photography, poetry, and posting on LinkedIn, where she can be found at www.linkedin.com/in/kathleen-carper. Kathleen is also an advocate for people with mental and physical disabilities, and is a caregiver for her 87-year-young mother. She lives in the Atlanta, Georgia, USA metro area.
I’m changing topics this morning to share with you 12 funny error messages that were seen on Japanese computers a number of years ago. Some were written in Haiku, and they’re really pretty funny, unless, of course, it’s happening to you. Our computers are more reliable now, but these sayings still make me laugh!
Aren’t these better than less imaginative phrases like, “Your computer has performed an illegal operation”?
12 Funny Error Messages
1. Chaos reigns within. Reflect, repent, and reboot. Order shall return.
2. Program aborting. Close all that you have worked on. You ask far too much.
3. Windows NT crashed. I am the Blue Screen of Death. No one hears your screams.
4. Yesterday it worked…. Today, it is not working. Windows is like that.
5. Your file was so big. It might be very useful. But now it is gone.
6. Stay the patient course. Of little worth is your ire. The network is down.
7. A crash reduces your expensive computer to a simple stone.
8. Three things are certain: Death, taxes, and lost data. Guess which has occurred?
9. You step in the stream, but the water has moved on. This page is not here.
10. Out of memory. We wish to hold the whole sky. But we never will.
11. Having been erased, the document you’re seeking must now be retyped. (Not so funny!)
12. Screen. Mind. Both are blank.
These still make me laugh, and I’ve read them quite a few times. I hope you enjoy them, too.
Next week I will share books, magazines, and TV shows I find inspiring. Feel free to message me with those things that have inspired you!
I am honored to be a guest on your blog, Joan. Thank you for inviting me to share about my award-winning novel, Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
To begin with, I want to share a little about me. I was born and raised in San Diego, California, but when I was 16, I moved in with my dad who was living in Hollywood. I walked to school every day going past Grauman’s Chinese Theater, past Hollywood and Vine, and occasionally saw some movie stars.
After marriage, we moved to Minnesota and lived there for 40 years before retiring in Florida. Here we live on a beautiful lake, which I can look at from the sliding doors in my office.
I became a published author shortly after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I had journaled since I was a young child, which is something I continue to do. My first book was a result of my journal notes. I am grateful to be a 10-year survivor. I have two blogs, write articles, volunteer, speak publically, and advocate for ovarian cancer awareness.
Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens is my second novel, and has won two awards. It is based on a true story about my great-grandparents. There is very limited information about his model Davida, so I had to create her based on my imagination, photographs, and biographies about my great-grandfather, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. He was the premier sculptor in America from 1880 until shortly after his death in 1904. He is most well known for his design of the $20 gold piece, which is considered to be the most beautiful coin ever minted in the United States.
Here is a brief excerpt from the book:
We agreed to visit Mr. Saint-Gaudens’s studio the following week. The Sherwood Studio Building was located at Sixth Avenue and Fifty-Seventh Street. Mr. Saint-Gaudens’s studio space inside the building was small but filled with various pieces of plaster, mounds of scattered sheets of paper with drawings, and a few men who were working on smaller pieces. I gasped in awe and squeezed Mother’s hand as I tried to take in all that was before me.
In the center of the room was a massive piece of white marble with ladders and scaffolding around it. Two men hammered against chisels, breaking off various sizes and shapes of the marble. Their work appeared haphazard to my uneducated eyes, but the man directing them appeared to have confidence in what they were doing. This man had the same stature of Mr. Saint-Gaudens, except his hair was a dark brown and he had no beard. There was a similar look and a nervous energy to his movements.
Suddenly, we heard Mr. Saint-Gaudens’s voice saying, “You are watching my brother Louis, who is my right-hand man and an artist in his own right. Come—let me introduce you.” He extended his left arm, inviting us to follow him.
As we neared, I could hear the brother’s baritone voice shouting instructions: “Take a little more there” and “No, Samuel—strike the chisel firmly but gently” and “That is good, very good.” He waved his arms over and around as if he were conducting an orchestra. I found it magical.
“Louis, my dear brother, stop your work for just a moment, please.” Mr. Saint-Gaudens said these words with such love in his voice. After introductions and some small talk, Mr. Saint-Gaudens went on, “This is the young lady I was telling you about, the one I would like to sketch. Do you agree she is perfect for the Vanderbilt project?” The two brothers walked around me while never taking their eyes off me. They exchanged their impressions and thoughts sometimes in English, but mainly in French. I heard phrases such as “angular head,” “high cheekbones,” and “vibrant eyes.”
I felt a mix of embarrassment and pride. My cheeks were warm, my heart beat fast, and my knees began to shake. I had never experienced such attention. Once again, I asked myself the same question: “Am I really pretty?”
I glanced over at Mother, who was watching and listening to the brothers, trying to understand their words and gestures. Then I was suddenly brought out of my dreamlike state when I
heard Mother say, “Come Albertina. It is time to go to work.” She turned to the two artists and said, “Perhaps you will come to our home on Sunday at four o’clock in the afternoon to discuss your ideas for Albertina. I want my sister, Ingrid, and her husband to be a part of whatever decision we make. They have lived in this country long enough to have a good command of the English language. Besides, they are my only family, and I trust their judgment in all things.”
Mr. Saint-Gaudens bowed and replied, “Of course, madam, I will be there. But before you leave, I would like you both to meet my wife and have some tea. Our home is just a short carriage ride from here.” Mother responded, “We met Mrs. Saint-Gaudens at the Christmas party, but the meeting was brief. We will be honored to meet her again. However, we will not be able to stay long. We have been away long enough, and we need to return to the inn. Time has by gone so rapidly.”
I have a new experience to share with you this week. I needed to make a visual presentation so that readers of A Shadow Away, the first book of my “Alex Cort Adventures” series, could know more about me as the author.
The process started with arranging for a photographer or videographer and deciding on a location to display examples of my bas-relief pet portrait sculptures, musical instruments, and silk floral designs. I wanted to show aspects of my other interests, and you can do that, too. Choose examples of your hobbies or crafts that you enjoy. If they make you happy, others will find them interesting as well. If you prefer, you can display examples of your product.
A good way to memorize what you intend to share in your video is to start practicing early. Decide on about 5 questions that you think will interest your readers for a three-minute video, and then write out your answers to those questions. Break those items down into segments and memorize them individually, rather than trying to memorize the whole page at once. Be kind to yourself if you can’t remember everything right away. That’s what the practice is for! Little by little, the pieces will come together.
Here are 5 example interview questions. These are designed for writers, but can be altered to suit almost any kind of business venture.
5 Useful Q&A Questions
1. Tell us about yourself.
2. What do you want readers to know about your books (business)?
3. What inspired you to write your stories (start your business)?
4. Describe the characters in your book. (Tell us about your product.)
5. Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
I hope these can help you get started on your way to making a video of your own to share with others who will be interested in learning about you and about your business. The process of publishing a book is a business. It takes dedication and many hours devoted to making your book or business visible in this world of information overload. The secret is to love what you’re doing. That will make all the difference in the months ahead when you are ready to share your book, or business, with the world!
When you’re filming your video — Relax! Be yourself, because that is who your readers/business clients what to meet. Be prepared by practicing what you want to say out loud. The words may sound fine in your head, but speaking them makes the words real.
I hope these ideas help you succeed in whatever venture you are embarking upon. Good Luck!