Significant Details

September 14, 2012 3 comments

I started a book once. I’m sure it was a great book. The problem was I couldn’t get past the first few pages. It was the age-old problem. There was too much information. My interest waned as the author described each person, place, and object in minute detail. Maybe it was impatience on my part, but I wanted to get to the meat of the story.

Details are vital to any story. I won’t deny that. What we must do, is learn to discern between significant and insignificant details.

Significant details make a story come to life. … Insignificant details? They bore the reader.

Imagine this scene: A man, gun in hand, is chasing a woman through a garden. Do we really need a description of each tree, flower, and weed in the garden? Do we need a detailed description from head to toe of the woman as she runs? Of the man as he chases her? I think not. They’re not necessarily significant.

Some details are fluff. Some are absolutely necessary. The setting, now that can be vital. Is this scenario unfolding at midnight in an abandoned garden miles from the nearest town? Or is it in the garden of a posh estate where guests are scattering left and right to clear a path for her as she runs from her pursuer? Such details are significant. 

More importantly, we want to know why she’s running. We want to know what she is feeling. We want to know why the man with the gun is chasing her. We want to feel emotionally connected to the characters. We want the plot. These details are significant.

Of course, a different story line introduces a different set of significant details. A young woman meandering through a garden, reminiscing of moments spent there with her beloved fiancé who has gone off to war—now I could see her stopping to admire the flowers. She might nostalgically pick a rose, one like her fiancé had given her in the past. As she brushes it close to her face, its fragrance brings back sweet memories. In this scenario the flowers are significant.

Significant or insignificant? What type of details are we writing into our letters, articles, or novels? Are we taking the time to go back and delete the insignificant? Any thoughts to share? Please feel free to write in the comment box.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rosie Cochran

I am a pastor’s wife, former missionary, mother of four great sons, and author of three Christian suspense novels: Betrayed, Identity Revealed, and A Murder Unseen. (Available at: Amazon.com.) I have a passion for God, my family, and writing! If you want to connect with me, join me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.  Interested in updates by email? CLICK HERE!

Have a question? Email Me!

Categories: Writing Tags: ,

Invisibility Doesn’t Sell

September 3, 2012 7 comments

The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. ~ Seth Godin

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There are some in the writing industry that have done more than make it work. They have thrived. When they come up with recommendations, we should pay attention.

I recently read a guest post by Seth Godin. Seth is one such man. He knows how to write and he knows how to market. We should sit up and listen.

Granted, just because something worked for him doesn’t guarantee that it will work for you or me, but we would be wise to study the model. 

Let’s repeat the model: “The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out.”

I can hear it now. — Three years? You have got to be kidding? Three years is a long time. Three years can feel like an eternity. And how do your promote what you haven’t even written yet? How do you even know you’ll be publishing a book three years from now? — I hear you, because you’re echoing my thoughts.

But it’s good to take your own advice. So I sat back, read on, and listened to what Seth was honing in on. The full quote is as follows:

The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you’ll need later. ~ Seth Godin

It’s not necessarily about promoting just that one book.

It’s about building connections.

It’s about building a platform.

It’s about building credibility. 

Gone are the days when one can hide behind a pen name and still sell books. Invisibility doesn’t sell. Promotion without credibility doesn’t sell either. 

Anyone can tweet a promotion. Anyone can promote on Facebook. It takes but seconds to do either. 

What takes time is building relationships, trust, and credibility. 

Remember: Invisibility doesn’t sell!
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Shaking hands symbol

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We need to spend time in the proving ground. We need to prove that we can write, that we have a message or tale worth sharing—and that we care more about people than a sale. 

We need to earn the right to promote. Earn people’s trust, earn their loyalty, and then we will have earned permission to promote.

Maybe I did it all wrong. Maybe you did it all wrong. But it’s never too late to change. We can quit kicking ourselves. We can get to work and make the changes. And, hopefully, one day we’ll write a post on how thankful we are that we heeded Seth’s advice!

Related articles:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rosie Cochran

I am a pastor’s wife, former missionary, mother of four great sons, and author of three Christian suspense novels: Betrayed, Identity Revealed, and A Murder Unseen. (Available at: Amazon.com.) I have a passion for God, my family, and writing! If you want to connect with me, join me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.  Interested in updates by email? CLICK HERE!

Have a question? Email Me!

Betrayed Is Heading to Kindle!

August 25, 2012 2 comments

Betrayed is heading to Kindle!

I confirmed that I DO have the legal right to turn my first book, BETRAYED, into an eBook. Now the work begins! The manuscript needs to be edited and formatted, a new cover will need to be designed, and then it will need to be uploaded to the Kindle store. I’ll keep you posted of the progress. 

Check out the synopsis and reviews! [Click here!]


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rosie Cochran

I am a pastor’s wife, former missionary, mother of four great sons, and author of three Christian suspense novels: Betrayed, Identity Revealed, and A Murder Unseen. (Available at: Amazon.com.) I have a passion for God, my family, and writing! If you want to connect with me, join me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.  Interested in updates by email? CLICK HERE!

Have a question? Email Me!

Categories: Uncategorized

When NOT to Follow the Rules

August 23, 2012 2 comments

Sometimes rules are made to be broken. Even grammar rules.
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I’m a rule-follower by nature—and a compulsive reader on top of that. Combine those two traits and you have someone that knows rules that a good portion of the population don’t know exist and religiously follows them.

Well, maybe not quite that bad. But you get my point. I don’t intentionally break rules. But sometimes we must. We need to know when NOT to follow the rules.

As much as I love grammar, as much as I love studying the structure and intricacies in language,  I know there are times when grammatical rules must be forsaken or I will fail as a writer.

There are times when self-expression trumps the revered style guides.

Rules NOT to Follow: (at least not ALL of the time!)

1.  Don’t start a sentence with a conjunction, such as AND or BUT. 

But what about when you’re trying to make a statement? Right. You get it now. Point taken.
Sometimes it is necessary to begin a sentence with a conjunction to make a point. It adds emphasis.

2.  Never use sentence fragments.

Talk about shoving self-expression into a box and throwing it into a deep pit. A dark pit. A bit filled with grammar rules etched into its walls. A dark pit that insists each sentence fragment be rewritten as a complete sentence.

We must rescue sentence fragments from the pit. Sentence fragments add emphasis and zing. They don’t dwell on what they’re getting at. They just say it. Short and snappy.  Self-expression at its best.

3.  A paragraph must be between three and five sentences long.

We live in a fast-paced society. We scan multiple articles on the worldwide web on a daily basis. We even read posts on our smartphones. We’re in a rush. Has this affected the desired paragraph length?

Maybe, maybe not. Literary style, as with other styles, changes with time.

Whatever the reason, particularly in articles and posts, short paragraphs reign. They pull us along rather than bogging us down. They get to the point.

Longer paragraphs aren’t all bad. In writing fiction, I prefer a blend of shorter and longer paragraphs to keep staleness at bay.

And then there are those one sentence—or one word—paragraphs. A rebellious blend of sentence fragment and too short of paragraph. But they make their point. Wonderfully.

By no means is this an exhaustive list. This is just to get your creative juices flowing, to get your mind considering that literary license may permit you to break the rules. At least some of them.

Our goal is to communicate. If the rules get in the way of communication, put them on the shelf.

Learn the rules. Learn how to use them. And learn when its time for self-expression to trump the rules.

(A Note to the Wise: Remember to keep a balance in all things. Don’t go to the extreme and use literary license as an excuse for poor grammar. Overuse kills the effectiveness!)

Related articles

Are you ready to break the rules? Do you have any examples of your own to share? Please do so in the comments section.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rosie Cochran

I am a pastor’s wife, former missionary, mother of four great sons, and author of three Christian suspense novels: Betrayed, Identity Revealed, and A Murder Unseen. (Available at: Amazon.com.) I have a passion for God, my family, and writing! If you want to connect with me, join me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.  Interested in updates by email? CLICK HERE!

Have a question? Email Me!

HTML Code: “Tweet This!”

August 17, 2012 2 comments

Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise.
View life as a continuous learning experience.
~ Denis Waitley
Tweet this!

Always ready to learn new things, I find myself studying what I like and don’t like on blogs and websites. One of the things I like is the “Tweet this!” feature. They give a great quote. I love the quote. I want to tweet it, and voila!, they have a “Tweet this!” link all ready for me. Very cool.

So cool and techie that I wanted it. But how? How did they do it? Come to find out, it’s pretty basic HTML coding. If you’re even a bit familiar with typing in code, this won’t be a problem at all. You can copy, paste, and substitute your own text. Are you ready? Here we go!

THE CODE:

TYPE HERE WHAT YOU WANT TO TWEET <a href=”http://twitter.com/home/?status= TYPE HERE WHAT YOU WANT TO TWEET via @YOUR-TWITTER-ACCOUNT ” target=”_blank”> Tweet this!</a>

THE FOUR PARTS:

Part One:  TYPE HERE WHAT YOU WANT TO TWEET

This is where you’ll substitute whatever it is you want to. In the example that follows, I’m going to substitute in: No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. ~ Robert Frost

Part Two:  <a href=”http://twitter.com/home/?status=

This will stay the same every time. The <a href=”http://twitter.com/home/?status= code is the link that will direct you to Twitter to sign in and then send this tweet.

Part Three:  TYPE HERE WHAT YOU WANT TO TWEET via@YOUR-TWITTER-ACCOUNT “

Yes, you really are going to type right here what you want to tweet. This can vary from the actual words you typed in under PART ONE, but be sure you’re not changing it so much that the one tweeting it thinks you’re tricking them! In the example that follows, I’m going to substitute in: No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. ~ Robert Frost via @RosieCochran

via @YOUR-TWITTER-ACCOUNT

I put my Twitter handle in there. You can sub in YOUR twitter handle—or you can leave this part off completely. Just be sure that at the end of this part that you don’t fail to keep the quote (  ) in there! Leaving it out will cause the HTML code to fail.

Part Four:  target=”_blank”>

I use the _blank target as this opens up Twitter on a new webpage in order to send the tweet. That means that after you’ve closed out from sending the tweet, my webpage should still be open in front of you. Yes, if we’re wanting traffic to our site, we don’t want people distracted and directed completely away from our website!

EXAMPLES:

The CODE with the example inserted…
(This would be under the TEXT tab in WordPress.com, where you type HTML code.)

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. ~ Robert Frost <a href=”http://twitter.com/home/?status=No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. ~ Robert Frost via @RosieCochran” target=”_blank”>Tweet this!</a>

…as it appears on the on the blog or webpage…
(This is how it would also appear under the VISUAL tab in WordPress.com.)

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. ~ Robert Frost Tweet this!

…and as it appears as a TWEET.

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. ~ Robert Frost via @RosieCochran

DRESSING IT UP:

Of course, once it’s done, you can center it, put it in a quote box, or whatever you want to do. See what I’ve done below!

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.
No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
~ Robert Frost
Tweet this!

WHEN THINGS DON’T GO AS THEY SHOULD…

If you type in the code, but it mostly disappears when you save it, it’s a sure sign that you’re omitting or adding something that you can’t. Type it again and compare it with the example under THE CODE. Some common errors are:

1) Omitting the quotation marks or carats.

2) Using quotation marks around the quote within the HTML code. The problem is that quotation marks are code and can only be used as required for the HTML coding.

For example, under PART THREE, type the following: No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. ~ Robert Frost via @RosieCochran

Do NOT type in the following quotation marks: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” ~ Robert Frost via @RosieCochran

A lengthy explanation? Yes, it has become that. I trust that in short order you’ll be coding “Tweet this!” quickly and accurately!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rosie Cochran

I am a pastor’s wife, former missionary, mother of four great sons, and author of three Christian suspense novels: Betrayed, Identity Revealed, and A Murder Unseen. (Available at: Amazon.com.) I have a passion for God, my family, and writing! If you want to connect with me, join me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.  Interested in updates by email? CLICK HERE!

Have a question? Email Me!

Putting on Your Oxygen Mask

June 28, 2012 6 comments
English: In-flight safety demonstration on boa...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia – Public Domain)

Flight attendants are always stressing the need to put on your oxygen mask before assisting your child.

It’s one of those instructions that you just don’t want to listen to. You want to help you child first. But the reality is, the flight attendant is right.

You’ve got to put on your own oxygen mask first in order to best assist your child.

It’s the same in life. We need to put on our figurative oxygen mask first in order to be best equipped to help others. If we’re neglecting our health through lack of sleep, lack of consistent exercise, a poor diet, and generally not taking the time to de-stress, we’re doing not only a disservice to ourselves, but also to those around us.

I can visualize your heads nodding in agreement. Mine is.

But the question remains: Is your oxygen mask on?

Women in particular tend to look after others at the detriment of their own health. It must be that mothering instinct kicking in. Life can begin to take priority over caring for ourselves.

I know the feeling.
I know the pit holes.
And I know I’ve fallen right into them.

Working full-time, tutoring our twin sons through their senior year of high school, and taking on added responsibilities when my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer meant that life simply took over. 

Looking after self took a backseat to more pressing duties. There seemed no way to put the oxygen mask on first. I was too busy juggling everyone else’s oxygen masks.

At first I didn’t see it. It was just survival. As time went on I saw the detrimental side to the situation—but not the remedy. I knew I needed to make changes for my own health, but the when and how eluded me. I waited for a break in the cycle. I waited for an opportunity for change.

It finally came. As I saw the end in sight with tutoring our twin sons, I began to plan. Finally, the last of the assignments was submitted. We wait for graded papers to be returned. We wait for the long-awaited diplomas. And suddenly I’ve gained an extra few evenings a week. It is a liberating feeling.

It’s time to put on the oxygen mask. It is time to start taking deep breaths.It’s time to fit in looking after myself in order to better help the family—and quickly, before life fills in all the gaps again. A plan has been put in motion.

♦  A healthier diet has been implemented. 

♦  My pathetic twice-a-month (if that!) exercise routine has been replaced by an exercise plan averaging three to five times a week.

♦  With an annual physical several months away, goals have been set to lose weight and improve my overall health before that date.

So there. I’ve said it. I have admitted it. I have verbally committed myself to healthier habits. I have verbally committed to keeping my oxygen mask on.

What about you? Is your oxygen mask on? Are there changes you need to make? Admitting it is usually a pretty good start. Are you ready for a change? Let me know in the comments! Admit it—and in doing so, commit yourself.

If you’re a writer, do I dare challenge you to put your oxygen mask on before you make greater commitments to write? It stands to reason that a healthier you will result in a more effective and creative writer. Take up the challenge today!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rosie Cochran

I am a pastor’s wife, former missionary, mother of four great sons, and author of three Christian suspense novels: Betrayed, Identity Revealed, and A Murder Unseen. (Available at: Amazon.com.) I have a passion for God, my family, and writing! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Have a question? Email Me!

It’s Five in the Morning…

June 12, 2012 4 comments
alarm clock, bought from IKEA

(Photo credit: Wikipedia, Public Domain)

So it’s five o’clock in the morning…

…making this nearly six o’clock alarm to the left look very appealing!

The coffee is on. A mug sits steaming beside me, the steam peeking up over the edge of the mug, seeking to confirm that I really am sitting here on the couch at this unprecedented hour. Coffee fed intravenously would probably be more effective at this point.

I reassure the steam from my coffee that it really is me sitting here, but only because I’m in an experiment to see how well creativity flows at such an early hour. I’m a six o’clock and not a minute before girl.

Still, I’m up for a challenge and the challenge has been given. Actually, the challenge was to wake up two hours earlier and write, but waking up at four would leave me in an undesirable state to be around for a good part of the day. Not a good idea.

Compromise was inevitable. I know creativity can flow in the evening, and considered being a non-conformist, staying up later rather than waking up earlier. That’s worked for me in the past. I wrote an entire novel in the late evening when our children were small. Granted, when they were small they went to bed early, my hubby went to bed early, and I had a quiet house all to myself—minus the distractions of the day.

Fast forward many years. My children are no longer small. These young adult men that now tower over me don’t go to bed early. Quiet, distraction-free evenings no longer exist. Going to bed around eleven means I’m the first one to bed.

Mornings may be the answer. Mornings fall into the distraction-free time zone. Yet the question remains: Can I get creativity to flow before six in the morning? 

I’m willing to try. Willing to experiment. My compromise is that I’m waking one hour earlier to see if this is even profitable for me.

I’ve survived several days of the experiment, but survived is the operative word. I figure to prove or disprove it, I should give it a few weeks, so I’ll stick it out for a while longer before giving an opinion. I’ll check in at a later date and let you know if early morning works for me—or if I’ve decided to be a nonconformist and work out a different approach!

How about you? When do you write? And why? What works for you? Let me know in the comment section!

Related articles:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rosie Cochran

I am a pastor’s wife, former missionary, mother of four great sons, and author of three Christian suspense novels: Betrayed, Identity Revealed, and A Murder Unseen. (Available at: Amazon.com.) I have a passion for God, my family, and writing! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Have a question? Email Me!

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