Tools of the Trade - Music

Prime Day favorites continue - these albums are either already mine or by artists I recommend. This is just a short collection - we will have to do lots more later!

For writing it’s always important for me to have instrumental music or music in a foreign language. If I hear lyrics in English I’ll sing along instead of writing. But hey if it’s Italian - I’m golden.

Check out these popular albums:

And … before you go, Stephen Covey’s classic - 7 Habits of Highly Effective People the infographic version is FREE for Prime members! Such a classic and helpful book that I have read and re-read for many years.

If you don’t already use a streaming program for music check out this deal with Amazon! You get unlimited music for 4 months for just $.99

If you aren’t a prime member - sign up now!

Editing is the Key to Success

Many times in the creative process we can stifle our inner muse if we try to edit too soon.  If in addition to enjoying creating new things, you are also a perfectionist, the NEED to fix things as you write or compose or create can become overwhelming.  The need to correct and fix seems to inhibit the forward motion of completion because we can ALWAYS improve what was just created.

The best writers recommend not making any edits prior to finishing a first draft. Get the words on the paper and finish before you begin thinking about all the things you've done wrong - spelling, grammar, and plot included.

This is easier said than done! The desire to fix as we write stymies our creative process. Waiting to edit until the creation is complete is valuable advice for not only the writer, but the composer, the scupltor, etc. Once the work is complete, you can then begin the editing process. Really the editing process is extensive and requires numerous pass throughs.

As a writer there are a variety of things meant by "editing."  Are you wanting proofreading? or are you going for a little more comprehensive edit for spelling and grammar errors and need a Copy Edit. Do you need a more thorough viewpoint with a line edit? The folks at New York Book Editors wrote a great article on the differences between a copy edit and a line edit.  You can read more here:

There's also developmental editing which digs into characters, pacing and more.  You can read more on that here :

As you can see there are multiple edits, and many editors would likely include more types of editing with greater nuances of what they entail. Finding a good editor is key to landing not only an agent to represent your work but also that elusive book deal!

I like to start with grammar and spelling reviews with MS Word. I then run my writing through the paces with other software programs like Grammarly and ProWriting Aid.  I have really enjoyed the ProWriting Aid over the last month. They offer a free two week trial, but my favorite feature is not only receiving the punctuation and spelling help, they also grade sentences on ease of reading, style, and length of sentences. Another important feature is the ability to change my audience.  Am I writing to business professionals or is it perhaps a more casual "conversation tone?"

Because the edits have proven so helpful I have converted to a paying customer.  If you would like to know more - just click below to start a free trial.

Writing Improvement Software

If you do decide you like the software that's fantastic. This link actually allows me to receive a small commission on a sale at no additional cost to you. 

That being said. A real live person can always do a final edit much more accurately than a program can. You can clean up a lot of errors this way, but a real life reader and an experienced editor can then take that clean copy and polish it further. Always take it to the next step so that you can produce the best work you possibly can each time!

Podcasts, audio books, traditional print, oh my!

Recently I conducted a highly scientific poll regarding audio books, podcasts, and traditional reading. 

Okay okay. 

It wasn’t highly scientific. 

Nor was it a poll. 

All right!? 

It was a Facebook post asking my limited group of friends what their habits were concerning those three formats

My questions were this: 
1. Are you a podcast listener?
2. Are you an audio book listener?
3. Do you prefer a book or ebook over audio?

Since I am fairly new the podcast scene…I’m a voracious reader of books/ebooks.  I never dreamed people considered themselves readers if they listened to books. I get it now, but I think our definitions have definitely evolved on what “reading” is.  Anyhoo…Since I’m still getting into podcasts I wondered how others view them.  I knew they were gaining popularity especially the last few years because I was hearing more and more people talk about them whether online or in actual real life conversations.  Yes, people still actual have those.

I fully expected that across the board if people agreed that yes they were podcast listeners, they would also be avid audio book listeners.  The answer was yes and no.  What I really didn't understand is the relationship factor of podcasts. I have learned over the last few weeks that a podcast is really more relationship based.  As I listen and understand conversations, interviews, opinions etc., the overwhelming reason a listener tunes into a podcast is to get to know the people doing the podcast and receiving information that is important to them.  The podcast appears to be a unique marketing tool to drive purchasers of audio and ebooks – BECAUSE they got to know the author first.

Through my friends posts, I discovered a variety of new podcasts to listen to myself.  My podcast listening has increased just from being intentional about listening especially when I’m driving.  As a drove two children to a variety of places on Monday, I cleared 5 podcasts.  Also I’m learning to adjust speed and get used to the faster delivery.  It doesn’t take long and hey I don’t get mad while I drive because I’m listening to politics and talk radio.  Probably for the best..

I have enjoyed searching the trends and the data backs up my perceptions – more and more people are tuning in to podcasts and audio books to fill downtime instead of turning on music to chill out.  Think cooking time, working out and doing laundry - more people are listening to podcasts instead of music. Since I’m a music person as well, I’m now going to dig in and see if the music industry is trending down because of the increased consumption of podcasts/audio books.  I’m fascinated as well with the idea of serial broadcasts of books.  I think it’s super fun and will be working that in to my schedule also.

As a visual learner, I am definitely behind the trends here, but I find it fascinating that the advent of technology and evolution of our habits has created new trends that affect all of my favorite things. Of course this week I learned of Book TV with youtube... oh my...I may be lost for a long time now!!  I'll do another post on Book TV soon! 

Did you miss out on the original conversation - answer those questions and leave them as a comment now :)

Here are some more links with more on podcasts and audio books if you are interested as well!

5 Things I've learned from a Year of Writing

1.     As a writer, I have to look at the big picture.

I need long range goals that overarch the multiple short term ones I also have to focus on – it’s a marathon not a sprint.  I’m learning that patience is not my strong suit.  I want to do it all and I want to do it right now.

2.     As a writer, I assumed that I just needed to write something of quality. 

As an avid long time reader my thought was that if I wrote something intriguing, interesting or truthful and insightful, someone would one day love it and ask to publish it for me.  Um…wrong… lol!  I literally had no idea how publishing worked and just assumed that a good quality product was all it would take.  I was incredibly naïve.

3.     Serious authors are spending time not just writing books but training themselves in a variety of activities!

Marketing, growing social media platforms, engaging themselves in speaking opportunities and a myriad of other activities to get their books in people’s hands.  It’s not just a write it and they will come world we live in.

4.     Writers who have a career in writing spend years to be successful.

This has been a tough lesson. I was hoping to be the exception, because I am exceptional and all. –little joke! The reality is that there is a lot of different things that go into what makes a successful writer and if I want to be at it long term I need to build a broad foundation.

5.     I’ve learned during this year of writing that I really enjoy writing a wide variety of things. Let me write all the genres - Non Fiction, Devotionals, Short stories, Blogging and even copywriting.   But the thing that I absolutely love and could lost in doing is by far Fiction.  I love turning a story around in my mind and getting the parts in place to keep it interesting.  SO.MUCH.FUN!

BONUS: One more bonus thing I’ve learned.  I thought I knew all the rules for grammar, but it turns out sometimes they change things. Like double spacing after a period is out…but that’s stuck in my mind for days.  Thank goodness there’s a Word hack for fixing that!

Novel Analysis

If you have been a reader for any length of time, you know that the analysis of the story leads a reader to search for deeper meaning within the written words.  Most novels are driven by either the characters that drive them, or by the plot itself.   I am intrigued by the process and the analysis for Fractured has brought some really important concepts to the forefront of my mind.

1. Choices have consequences.  Life is chock full of choices.

Consequences can be escaped for a short while, but not forever. Beware your sins will always find you out.

We reap what we sow. Not just a tenet of Scripture, a real life proverb.  If you plant a tomato seed, you will reap a tomato plant, likewise kernels of corn reap corn stalks with new ears of corn.  Laws of Nature.


2.     Surround yourself with good friends.  They influence you more than you realize, and you make choices you might not otherwise have faced if not for your friend’s influence.  I would dare to say that most people who end up in prison can trace their path to the people they hung out with.

"Lay down with dogs you get up with fleas." An old quote, with such truth.

Evil communications corrupt good manners.

While my novel, Fractured, is not what I would consider Christian Fiction, it does track with certain undeniable principles of life lessons based in Scripture.  The characters themselves are not believers, and don’t find God.  They do experience real life trials, based solely on their own decision making and that is something that everyone universally can relate to.  

A fresh start can also be gained, but can never be fully achieved without facing head-on the consequences of prior acts.  Restoration can never be completed without an eye on the future free of guilt and shame.  So while moving on may look appealing and seem possible, our past always has a way of returning in ways we can never anticipate.

These underlying themes of my novel were not intentional.  I wrote the story based on a particular way I thought the story should go, but the outcome is definitely one that has these undercurrents running through it.  I am fascinated by what I find as I go back and dig into the story as I continue to improve it and to be able to best explain to those I pitch the book to. 

What about you?  

If you are a writer, do you purposely write with a meaning in mind? or does it seem to occur because of your worldview?  

If you are a reader, do you read purely for entertainment value without thinking deeply on meaning? or do you search for what could be hidden among the written word?