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Give Writers a Gift They’ll Love by Kitty Bucholtz

November 16, 2021 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz, Writing tagged as , , , , ,

If there’s one thing I love to hear, it’s someone telling me that they’re a writer. I immediately go into instant-friend mode and ask them about what they’re writing. It may not be something I’m interested in, but nonetheless we have a connection.

 And if there’s one thing I love even more, it’s someone telling me that they just published their book. Traditional or indie publishing, I’m thrilled for them. I know the feeling of accomplishment and nerves coming together to form a potent cocktail!

That’s why I became a writing coach. To help people get through the valleys of self-doubt and procrastination, over the mountains of rewriting and learning new things, into the bright land of accomplishment – now they have finished their book.

While I like the idea of a Black Friday sale, and have done my share of shopping that day over the years, I don’t like the feeling of the pressure to BUY NOW. So I’m offering a special from now through the end of 2021 – a full seven weeks to decide and act. If you or a friend has a book they’re stuck on, or someone you know has always wanted to write a book but only has false starts so far, how about the gift of a book coach this year?

My rates will go up in January, but for the rest of this year I’m actually going to discount my rate. My most popular six-month Finish Your Book 1:1 Coaching package includes a live-on-Zoom recorded 60-minute call twice a month, helping the writer through the plotting or the writers block or the brainstorming – whatever the writer needs that week, plus feedback on 20 manuscript pages of work each month, and membership in our twice weekly writing sprint group. Normally $2750, and increasing to $3000 in January, this package is $2500 when paid in full by December 31 (or six monthly payments of $500).

I know that the cost is only half of the question we ask ourselves when deciding whether to do something – the other half of the “should I” question is time. To help you feel more comfortable that your friend will actually use this gift, I’m giving the recipient a full year to begin their six-month coaching program. We can book our first session together anytime between now and December 31, 2022.

There are only two things that I have to limit – I have a limited number of spots open since this is one-on-one time together, not group coaching, and it’s best that I meet with people first to make sure we have a connection and they’re writing something I can help them with.

If you’d like to talk to me about a friend you’d like to gift this to, or if you’d like to send your friend to me directly, you can book a 30-minute call with me here on my scheduler. (If the times look a little weird to you, I live in Sweden now, so I’m 6 hours ahead of Eastern time, 9 hours ahead of Pacific time.)

https://go.oncehub.com/kitty-bucholtz-30

Remember, if you or your friends don’t need a writing coach, there are plenty of other things you might want to ask for or give to the writers in your life this year! There’s the MasterClass group of courses, wonderful for inspiration and tips from the writers there, but also fantastic for research for your next protagonist. They also have a 2-for-1 membership special as of the day this posts.

Bryan Cohen has a Kickstarter for his new book Self-Publishing with Amazon Ads through December 3, which includes lots of rewards at higher levels.

Mark Dawson has lots of video-based courses on his Self Publishing Formula website on writing craft, production, and marketing.

And then there’s the gift of time. Give your writer friend an hour of time every month to encourage or help them. Get a group of friends together for weekly writing sprints, or join my Finish Your Book Membership Group and join us twice a week (email me for details — kitty at kittybucholtz dot com).

Ask for a two-hour monthly or weekly block from your family and keep it like a doctor’s appointment, no rescheduling, no interruptions. Maybe even give that two-hour block back to them to do something they’ve been wanting to do more of (golfing, hiking, playing a video game together). You can even send the link to this post to people who are wondering what they can give you this year. 😉

Do you have other favorite gift ideas for writers? Share them in the comments!

Whatever you decide to do, for yourself or for a friend, I hope it leads to the joy of creation and, eventually, the even greater joy of having a(nother) published book. Happy Writing!

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Taking Notes on Your Kindle – and Finding Them Again by Kitty Bucholtz

March 9, 2020 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz tagged as , , , , ,

Note: Kitty is at a conference so we’re rerunning one of her columns from our archives. We hope Kitty has a great time, and we hope you enjoy her column.

In November 2017, I wrote about how you can send nearly any kind of text-based document to your Kindle. A couple weeks ago, a friend told me she’s taking an overseas trip and she was considering printing out her current work-in-progress so she can at least get some editing done on the plane. I suggested she send her Word doc to her Kindle instead. She wouldn’t have to worry about losing pages, and her luggage would be a little lighter.

When she asked me how she would do edits, I realized I haven’t actually written an article about that yet! Here are my thoughts.

First, I use my Kindle to read. I don’t plan to make it my next editing tool. That being said, if I’m reading a friend’s book and see a typo, I want to tell them about it so they can make the correction and re-upload. In the same manner, reading my final manuscript on my Kindle can help me to see errors I missed because now I am reading the book as a reader. Errors aside, I also like to highlight my favorite bits in a novel sometimes, and helpful passages in nonfiction books so I can come back to them later.

I own a Kindle Paperwhite, so I’ll explain how to do everything on that or on the Kindle app on my iPhone. You’ll have to check how to do things differently if you own a different Kindle or use the Kindle app elsewhere. (I’d think it would all be very similar.)

Highlighting

If I want to highlight a passage on a Paperwhite or using the Kindle app on my phone, I press and hold on the first word I want to highlight until it lights up then drag my finger to the last word I want to highlight. On my phone, it automatically highlights. On my Paperwhite, it highlights but brings up a menu asking me if I want to just highlight, or add a note, or sometimes you can look things up in Wikipedia if your Kindle is connected to the Internet, and other menu items may also be available. (If you highlight a single word, the Kindle assumes you want to look that word up in the onboard dictionary.)

To get rid of that highlighting using the phone app, tap on the highlighted portion again, then tap on the highlight color with the X in it. That will delete your highlighting. If you tap on a different color, it just turns your highlighted color (yellow by default) to the other color.

To get rid of the highlighting using the Paperwhite, tap on the highlighted portion again, then tap on “Delete” in the little menu that pops up.

Notes

Once you’ve highlighted something, you can add notes pertaining to the highlighted bit. On the phone, tap the highlighted portion, then when you see the little menu, tap on the square with the pencil (supposed to look like paper and pencil). A new screen opens that says “Create Note” at the top. Type in whatever you want, then hit Save. Now at the end of the highlighted portion is a tiny little page. That’s your reminder that you have a note there.

On the Paperwhite, it’s similar. You can add the note as soon as you add the highlighting by choosing “Note” from the menu after you press and drag to highlight. A “Note” screen pops up where you can type what you want. Tap Save, and you’ll see a little superscript number at the end of the highlighted portion kind of like what you see for footnotes in textbooks.

To read these notes, tap on the highlighted portion, tap on the Note in the menu, and you can read what you wrote. You can also delete or change the note at this time.

But Why?

If you send your manuscript to your Kindle in a .doc or other text file, highlighting and making notes about things you want to fix or change can be very helpful. As I mentioned, I also like to tell my friends about any typos they’ll want to fix. And when reading nonfiction, I highlight and make notes for the same reasons I would in a paper book – to remind myself of how to do something, or remember to come back to this passage later.

How Do I Get My Notes Back?

Obviously, hitting the page-forward button over and over through a 400-page book would be way too annoying to find all of your marks. But Kindle created a “My Clippings” text file for you and it saves everything you highlight or notate from any book on your Kindle. Yay!

For any ebook that the Kindle recognizes as such (I don’t know if you have to have purchased it from Amazon or not), your notes and highlights show up at https://read.amazon.com/notebook

Unfortunately, the manuscript you sent to your Kindle (possibly using the Send to Kindle app 😉 ) does not show up in your online notebook. (At least, I don’t see mine.) So you have to download your My Clippings file from your Kindle to your computer.

To do this, connect your Kindle power cord with the USB plug on the end to a USB port on your computer. Once it’s connected, your computer will see the Kindle like it would a flash drive. Click on Kindle, then Documents, then scroll down to My Clippings.txt and double-click to open. In that text file, you will find everything you’ve highlighted (probably since you purchased your Kindle). You can now save that file on your computer.

My Clippings.txt from my Kindle

Sending Your Notes to Your Friend

Using my friend Debra Mullins’ book Kerrigan’s Law as an example, this is what I do when I find any typos in a friend’s book. I open My Clippings, then cut and paste the notes that refer to that book into a new document.

Each highlight is listed in My Clippings by location number. If it also has a note, it is listed again at that location number with the note you typed. For instance, I highlighted a typo, then wrote “typo” in the note section. Here is what it looks like in My Clippings:

Kerrigan’s Law: Welcome to Burr: Book 3 (Debra Mullins)
– Your Highlight on Location 434-434 | Added on Sunday, December 3, 2017 10:33:42 PM

How to we make that happen?”
==========
Kerrigan’s Law: Welcome to Burr: Book 3 (Debra Mullins)
– Your Note on Location 434 | Added on Sunday, December 3, 2017 10:34:07 PM

Typo

Now I can cut and paste my highlights and notes into a new document or an email and send it to Deb. I try to highlight enough text so she can search for it and find it fairly easily. The location number will only give her a vague idea of where it is, but it helps. For instance, location 434 is very early on in the book.

Since I’d found a typo and knew I’d send it to Deb, I couldn’t help but highlight a portion that made me laugh out loud to send to her, too. 😉

Kerrigan’s Law: Welcome to Burr: Book 3 (Debra Mullins)
– Your Highlight on Location 1383-1384 | Added on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 1:18:20 PM

our old sheriff, Charlie Norris,
==========
Kerrigan’s Law: Welcome to Burr: Book 3 (Debra Mullins)
– Your Note on Location 1383 | Added on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 1:18:34 PM

LOL

(You get it – Chuck Norris? LOL! 😀 )

Using the Kindle Notebook Website

I only discovered the notes showing up on your own “notebook” page today when researching a question I had for this article. (Here’s the 2015 article I found mentioning it.) I couldn’t find Deb’s book in my “notebook,” so I played around with another book I had on my Kindle, Only a Hero Will Do by Alanna Lucas.

Example from my “Notebook”

You can see that I highlighted part of a sentence, then added a note, “Here is a note on that highlighted passage.”

I went through the books showing up in my My Clippings document and compared them to what showed up in my online “notebook.” I could be wrong, but it looks like Amazon only recognizes books I purchased from them. Anything I “side loaded” or used Send to Kindle to get onto my Kindle seems to not show up in the Notebook. Just a little FYI. So to get your notes for those books, you’ll have to download the file from your Kindle to your computer as I mentioned above.

Editing Your Own Books on Your Kindle

Bringing this around full circle, I told my friend Janice that she can load her current WIP onto her Kindle and take it with her on the plane. She won’t be able to make changes to the document, but she can highlight bits and write notes like, “Need more tension here” or “Potentially better ending could be…”

Loading your final manuscript to your Kindle and reading it through before you upload it to publish can also be one of your last proofreads. You can highlight a section and add the note “is should be it,” etc. One note on this – highlight enough, even a whole sentence, so that you can find it again in your document by doing a search.

I hope you found this information useful. I’ve really loved opening My Clippings occasionally to remind myself of all the cool stuff I wanted to remember from nonfiction ebooks I own. Learn from my mistake, though: when you trade in an old Kindle and get a new one, download the My Clippings file from the old Kindle first! Once you no longer have access to the Kindle, you no longer have access to the file. Darn!

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Encouragement to Take a Leap – by Kitty Bucholtz

December 9, 2019 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz, Writing tagged as , , ,

I’ve been attending the Malmö International Rotary Club for the last few months, and in November I gave an “ego speech.” It sounds a little too self-centered to be comfortable 🙂 but it’s basically a “getting to know you” speech.

I wanted to share the real Kitty, but I still didn’t want it to center on me. Then I realized I could do with the speech what I try to do with my podcast episodes, and even in my fiction: encourage the audience in their own lives. Interestingly, I found myself veering slightly from my notes in the end and telling the club that I was thinking about starting a new project to better use my gifts…but it would be scary and I hadn’t had the courage to take the leap yet.

Here’s the speech. If you’re thinking about starting something new, or even if you’re just planning your work for next year, I hope it encourages you. Let me know what you think.

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WANT CREATIVE CRED? GIVE A LITTLE

July 15, 2019 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as , , , , , ,

Want to know a secret? Volunteering can be your ticket to building a creative career platform.

Other professions have embraced the nonprofit strategy as personally fulfilling and professionally strategic. Lawyers work pro-bono, doctors cross borders to help those less fortunate, retired business people and teachers mentor those who need help starting their businesses or getting over a hump.

But nonprofits need more than counsel, they need the kind of exposure writers, filmmakers and artists can provide. Whether you’re looking for that first portfolio piece or expanding an already established career, aligning yourself with a nonprofit offers you a wealth of creative opportunities. Since you might know others in creative careers,  here are some suggestions for writers, filmmakers, artists and even chefs and gardeners because creativity is never limited.

WRITERS AND/ OR FILMMAKERS

Profile a volunteer

Interview the administrator

Chronicle the history of the nonprofit

Write the newsletter

Write content for their website/blog

Spotlight the success stories of clients

 

ARTISTS/PHOTOGRAPHERS

Paint a mural

Design a fundraising invitation

Photograph the clients

Hold art/photography classes

Design a nonprofit’s newsletter

Design a non-profit’s logo

CHEFS/GARDENERS/ETC

Cook for a fundraiser

Landscape the building

Provide floral arrangements for benefits

There is no limit to the benefits you will receive by volunteering your creative services. You will build your portfolio, be introduced to businesses and clients that are ready to pay for your talent, and, above all, you will have made a difference with your words, your images and your creativity. There is no lack of drama at a nonprofit, all you have to do is seek it out.

Eric, my son and Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Albania, writes plays about his experiences. They are produced in Hollywood and the proceeds benefit the village in which he lives.

Sam, a well-known musician, teaches children stricken with cancer how to play the guitar. Because of his volunteer work, the local newspaper did a front-page article on his efforts.

Cheryl, an aspiring filmmaker interviews people in an assisted living facility and runs those interviews on her website calling attention not only to rich histories but also to her talent behind the camera.

Jackie painted a mural on the wall of a local library. She was credited for her work by the library and her work is seen every day of the year not only by those who visit the library but people who walk and drive by.

The next time you’re looking for a way to showcase your talent, look no further than your community. Your portfolio – and your heart – will benefit from your generosity.

 

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What We Learn From Our Favorite Stories by Kitty Bucholtz

July 9, 2019 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz tagged as , , , , ,

header image for A Slice of Orange

For years, my all-time favorite movie was Sleepless in Seattle. Even when my screenwriting teacher in a professional program gave me the stink-eye, I wouldn’t change my answer. I have watched that movie so many times, I’m surprised the DVD hasn’t worn out. (I’ve owned it so long, I used to have the VHS tape, too!)

Then Richard Curtis wrote some big blockbuster romantic comedies that I love. Love Actually and Notting Hill are my two favorites. Even my husband, John, likes all three of these movies because they are smart and funny and have great lines of dialogue that you can’t help quoting later.

I love these movies so much that I’ll even watch them on Netflix, even though we own all three on DVD. And oh, Netflix, how I love you. Let me count the ways. That’s where I first watched The Decoy Bride with the hilarious Kelly Macdonald and the awesome David Tennant. I’ve watched that movie sooo many times! I bought it on Blu-ray because I wanted to make sure I could watch it in high quality forever. But then I had to buy it on DVD, too, because that’s the only way I could watch it on my computer. I’ve never done that before, buying more than one copy!

And what’s my go-to movie for sick days? The Family Man. Tea Leoni and Nicolas Cage are absolutely adorable, and those kids! And the best friends! The movie makes me laugh every single time I watch it.

I love romantic comedies. I love reading them, watching them, writing them, talking about them. Like I said, they’re my medicine for bad days. And lately, I’ve had truckloads of bad days.

Thank God for romantic comedy writers because I found some new medicine two weeks ago. I’d seen on Facebook that my friend Sean Gaffney (same screenwriting program I was in) had written a new movie called In-Lawfully Yours. I guess I’m a bad friend for not paying very good attention because I thought it was coming out in the theater this fall, but it came out on Netflix!

I was scrolling through the New Releases and saw the title and thought, how funny, Sean’s movie has that same title. And hey, the movie poster looks kind of – hey, that is Sean’s movie! LOL! I was having a bad day so I watched it during lunch. It is soooo adorable! The hero and heroine really played off each other so well! And the characters seemed like people I’d probably know, people I’d want to be friends with if they were real, not like pretend movie characters.

I felt so much better after watching it, just like medicine. I wanted to watch it again right away, but I controlled myself. I waited until lunch the following day. Aw, wow, it was just as funny the second time. It had been a stressful week, so I turned it on again at lunch for the third day in a row. Still had me laughing and smiling! If you like rom-com’s, you’ve got to watch this movie!

In addition to feeling better, watching a movie several times helps you consciously and unconsciously work through what you like about it, and why. You start thinking about what you don’t like and why. And if you’re a writer, you start going over your own characters and asking yourself how they can become better after seeing some other amazing fictional characters on screen or in a book.

One thing about the writing in In-Lawfully Yours. If they hadn’t gotten the right actors, it could’ve been a little dopey. That’s the risk with humor – it’s got to be the right kind, in the right amount, for the right audience. Of course, that’s the risk with movies in general. Wrong actor, bad movie. Right group of actors, amazing movie!

So when I watched this movie for the third time in three days, I had to stop thinking about these actors who had such good chemistry, and I had to think about the characters I write who will ever and only play out in people’s heads. And that’s when I remembered…

When I wrote Little Miss Lovesick, the first several drafts were aimed at Silhouette Romance (kind of like Harlequin, if you don’t know) and the humor was mild, the kind of humor they’d already published. But when I took a risk and wrote the kind of humor that had me laughing as I was typing, a whole new level of fun story developed! It was no longer the kind of book Silhouette or Harlequin or several other houses were buying. (That was a problem for me until self-publishing came along.)

But the readers who enjoyed Little Miss Lovesick really loved it! My risk paid off and I found my writer voice. Since then I’ve had to push myself to get to the edge of my comfort zone and see what else I can do. I can’t let fear or complacency take hold because I’ll lose what it turns out my readers want. (Plus, it’ll be way less fun for me!)

What stories do you read or watch over and over again? What are you learning from them? Are you letting those favorites push you to become a better writer? Give it some thought.

Meanwhile, I’m going to go watch In-Lawfully Yours again. Thanks for writing such a fun story, Sean! And thanks, Chelsey Crisp and Joe Williamson, for making me laugh with and fall in love with a new favorite couple! I’m such a happy Kitty!  😀

 

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