Tea with Eleanor

RooseveltFamilyIt was dank, and foggy, fall morning, when Joyce and I made the trek to Campobello Island. We drove over the bridge and checked in with the border guards. (Picture of Roosevelt Family on left. Notice that between Franklin and Eleanor on the back row, his mother, the matriarch is sitting.) As we drove into the International Park to have tea with Eleanor in her summer cottage. It is not every day that you can have tea with Eleanor Roosevelt. Alas, she had returned to her winter home! <grin> Oh, but instead, we received a rather personal tour of the cottage with the ability to ask any questions that we wished.

My wife, Joyce, loves to ask questions. As a result, it really did feel as if we had visited the Roosevelts. We learned that there were 14 bedrooms, just barely enough space for their five children, staff, and visitors. The Roosevelts arrived by train and boat each summer. They rode the train to Maine, and then a boat took them over to the Island and up to their cottage. A short walk from the shore to the cottage for able-bodied people. Franklin, however, diagnosed with polio early in his political career, did not use a wheel chair at the cottage.

RooseveltCottageWhen Joyce and I planned our short vacation to Lubek, Maine, we learned that Lubeck was the easternmost spot in Maine. (Picture to left is the Roosevelt Cottage.) It’s not exactly the hottest tourist spot in the Nation, especially in late October, but it is the gateway to Campobello Island. To have “Tea with Eleanor Roosevelt” in her summer cottage, make sure you go before Columbus Day and after Memorial Day. Oh! Don’t forget your passport, either! Campobello Island is in New Brunswick, Canada.

MulhollandLightHouseWhat else is there to do? You can tour Campobello Island by car. (Mulholland Lighthouse is picture on left.) There are hiking and bicycle paths in the International Park. There are accommodations on the Island, as well, as in Lubek, Maine. To find out more, check out the following Websites:

If you are wondering why I am writing what might seem like a travel blog, read on. . .

Fiction writers should travel. Take notes, pictures, and enjoy yourself, but also talk to the local folks. The more you know about a town, the more you will be able to include the people, the town, and a flavor of what it means to live in the area into a novel.

EastportDowntownFor example, if I were writing fiction about our trip, my first line would be:

Sitting in the coffee shop, as I sip my hot chocolate. A conversation began between Diane and Fred. She was upset by the closing of the local self-serve laundry. Diane was very passionate about the closing. “Maybe we can find people to donate a washer and dryer and put it in the bookstore across the street or the drug store. Both have an area that they could leave open that wouldn’t be leaving their stores open.”

“Yeah,” said Fred, “but the problem is heating the space in the winter. No one is going to want to do that.”

“Well, maybe we can find someone who will take in laundry. It’s about an hour’s drive to Calais (pronounced Cal-us). It’s okay now, but when winter sets in, no one wants to drive that far just to do laundry!”

“Good luck!” said Fred as he left the coffee shop.

This would make a good opening to a novel, because you have a specific problem. Diane wants to solve this, but Fred isn’t interested in brainstorming a fix to the problem of not having a self-serve laundry in Eastport. She will likely have a few more Freds to battle over this issue, which is a small coastal town on the Maine coast.

I based the above scene on a true conversation that we overheard while sipping tea and hot chocolate in a coffee shop in Eastport, Maine. We had driven a scenic drive that took us from Lubec to Eastport. The town was somewhat stroll-able. Since it was past Columbus Day, some of the shops had closed for the season.

We also drove up to Calais and over into St. Stephens, New Brunswick, again showing our passports. St. Stephens was a bit bigger than Eastport, but I only found one shop that I wanted to peruse: a yarn shop! I had a nice conversation with the proprietor of the Wool Emporium. While no problem(s) cropped up, I could probably use her as a character in a book. I don’t know too much about her, but she could be developed. To be truthful, I don’t even recall her name, which is just as well. People sort of get freaked out when you use their names in your novel.

There is probably no way to avoid using names of people you have met or know. However, putting a disclaimer on your copyright page is a good idea. Here is some sample text:

DISCLAIMER: The characters used in this book are fiction. While some character(s) may feel familiar, the characters within are not intended to represent any particular person either living or dead. All accounts are totally fiction. The material expressed herein is the fictionalized creation of the author, and is not intended to reflect upon any particular person or entity. The author and publisher shall have no responsibility or liability with respect to any loss or damage caused, or alleged to be caused, by the material contained in this book.


Seven Reasons to Create a WordPress Website

Every Authorpreneur needs a Website, so you can develop a fan base for your books. This article does not cover why you need a Website, what you need on your Website, or how to develop an e-list (fan base). We will, however, discuss why you need a WordPress Website.

The first and perhaps the most important reason for creating a WordPress Website deals with the ease of setting up a WordPress site. You do not need to know either html or css languages for developing the Website, because WordPress works with text. It was originally developed for easy Blog creation. You only need to use words to create it, plus there are many plugins that help do many tasks that help design certain features on your site.

The second reason for creating a WordPress site is that it is very easy to create a Professional looking Website with the use of Themes. Many of the Themes are customizable, which offers even more flexibility.

The third reason for creating a WordPress site is that it is free to install on a large number of hosting sites. You don’t need to pay for the software. It is actually available on the hosting site. You only have to install it.

The fourth reason for creating a WordPress site is that learning what you need to do to install and create you site is relatively easy. There is lots of help online. For example, my friend, Gina Akao, offer a free course for building your WordPress Site in six sessions, which will all be e-mailed to you. Just click on this link http://publishwithconnie.com/FoundFreedomWPTrng to sign up!

The fifth reason for creating a WordPress site is that not only is WordPress geared for words, but it is quite easy to add photos, video, music, and audio. While your Website is more than a Blog, it should have one, and some of the most competitive Bloggers are using video as part of their Blog.

The sixth reason for creating a WordPress site is that it is also easy to add a shopping cart or add Paypal, Clickbank or another pay service. Under this reason, I am also adding the Membership Site, which is also easily done with a Plugin.

The seventh reason for creating a WordPress site is that there are so many Plugins that can supercharge your Website, such as the following:

  • Social Media auto-posting for your blog;
  • Form creation;
  • Forums;
  • Shorten URLs on your site and everywhere;
  • Photo Galleries; and
  • Widgets that can do a lot.

Building a Website is a necessity for any writer. When you publish a book, especially if you Indie Publish, you need READERS!

The first steps to attracting readers is to build a Website, and start a Blog. There are many other ways to get in front of your readers, but a Website is a good place to start. Picking a Domain Name is a critical part of setting up your Website. For most authors, using their name or pen name is the best choice.

Putting up a Website with the name of the book is also done quite a lot, as well. But when you have many books, it might actually be best to have one place where all your books can be found. There are various thoughts about this. Some marketing people say each book needs its own Website. Others say a main site with all your books.

While there are choices, there are also a variety of reasons people publish books. Naturally, you want to sell your books, which is the reason you need a Website. Most new authors don’t consider that once the book is finished, they are in business.

If you need more help in developing your WordPress Website, check out my Website Design 101 for Authors.

Happy Writing!

Editing and Revising Your Book

This is always a hard process for most authors. If you are ready for copyediting, that is another discussion. What I am talking about is the process before you send it to a copyeditor. You’ve finished writing your book. What is the next step? Revision and editing is the next step.

You need to make your book as good and as perfect as you can before you send it to a copyeditor. Going back through your book might mean you change a word here or there to make a bigger impact. Fix a sentence here or there. Is that all?

No, actually that is often only the beginning. A fellow author, Holly Lisle, often says in her blogs on writing: “Think bigger!”

Hopefully, you’ve written down some of the things that I ask writers to do BEFORE THEY WRITE. Answer these questions:

  • Why are you writing this book?
  • What do you hope will happen as a result of your book?
  • What do you envision this book to be?

So, the next step in revising and editing your book is to see if this book answers these questions:

  • Why did you write the book?
  • Does the book meet your expectations that you had before writing?
  • Do you know what you want the book to be once you’ve revised it?

These are major items to ponder. If your book doesn’t meet your expectations before you revise it, then your work in doing the revisions needs to be a completely different job than merely fixing some punctuation and making a few words stronger. Often during the revision process, there is a tendency to get disgusted with the process and begin to think the book is junk and you just want to throw it away.

Don't THROW your manuscript away!

Your work is more valuable than you think. See if my Comprehensive Evaluation will solve your issues.

What happens is that since we’re done with the writing process, we suddenly think the book should be perfect and sound like our most favorite author. It probably doesn’t, but that isn’t necessarily a sign that we should trash the book! Hopefully, your book is uniquely yours and doesn’t read like some other author’s work. Think “bigger!” What is the real reason that you are considering trashing the book?

Once you understand how the book does or does not meet your original ideas about the book, you will be better prepared to revise and edit your book. Usually, you do not need to make a complete overhaul of your book. On the other hand, there are times when your book would benefit being Content Edited or Developmentally Edited, which means that the book is evaluated and possibly restructured. If you are working with a book coach, in a class, have an agent, or with a traditional publisher, this sort of editing may be included in the services. There are independent editors that do Content or Developmental Editing, as well.

Revision work can be time consuming, but it is a necessary part of the writing process. It is true that most published books have errors in them, but the goal of a writer is to try to write the best and most perfect book possible. Just don't beat yourself up for the errors after you've published the book.

For the perfectionist, if you use an on-demand printer, you can usually upload a corrected version. It may mean your book is not available for a few days.

Many writers have beta readers. Beta readers are simply friends, family, and fellow writers that you trust to read your book and give you feedback. Many writers belong to writing groups or enrolled in classes where feedback is given along the way. Getting feedback early in your writing can often be helpful, because then, you might be able to fix a problem in your story – plot or characters. If you learn this early on, it often prevents a huge re-organization of your novel.

If you are going the traditional publishing route, be prepared to re-write your book for every agent and every editor you work with. The one drawback to this is that too often various feedback and multiple rewrites can leave your manuscript too sterile.

Happy Writing!

Book Ideas Don’t Grow on Trees

My Momma always told me that money doesn’t grow on trees…and it doesn’t! But as a writer, book ideas don’t grow on trees, either!

Sometimes coming up with a truly stellar title can be a challenge. Some people have a lot of trouble creating book ideas. Others seem to have little problem. But the truth is that everyone is capable of developing boo ideas.

What is a Book Idea?

What constitutes a “Book Idea?” A “Book Idea” is a thought, plan, or suggestion about what to write. This may sound a bit vague until you see your book as “Intellectual Property.” It is your thoughts, opinions, beliefs or what you imagine (or see for the visual person) in your brain.

  • A “Book Idea” is what comes before you actually form your “Concept.” When you form your concept, you can then broaden the topic and chop it into smaller pieces, such as chapters.
  • You can even break down a chapter into smaller chunks.
  • When we think of writing a book, we know we need an “idea.”
  • When we are planning a series of books, we need multiple ideas that are connected.
  • A “Book Series” normally covers a topic, which should be of sufficient interest to your readers or potential readers that they would purchase the series.
  • Whether you write non-fiction or fiction, a series can be a great way to provide content or entertainment to your readers.
  • In the case of fiction, it is a story that is too large for one book or a story that follows the life of one character, such as Harry Potter.
  • When writing a “Book Series,” it should be planned out well. For example, you’ll want to stop a fiction novel after this part of the story has climaxed and you’ve resolved all the unresolved threads in the book. Your next book can take up where you left off, but it should still begin with a problem or conflict.
  • When you publish a fiction book, one chapter at a time, it develops into what is called “Fan Fiction.”
  • You develop a following with this sort of Kindle book.
  • Series helps develop a following, especially if you publish them in a timely manner. For example, a Kindle “Fan Fiction” published on a weekly or bi-weekly basis is bound to build readership.
  • You can use your fans to help you write your book by asking for suggestions for the protagonist’s next steps.
  • In this way, you are in partnership with your book reading fans!

Planning a Series

Book Series - Fiction

Fan Fiction

The ability to publish small, easily absorbed books on Kindle as a series can be a fairly easy way to deliver high quality content in a short period of time, while building readers.

These books can be between 4,000 to 8,000 words. Some authors say up to 20,000 words, but that is more like a regular print book. When looking at fiction as a Kindle series or Fan Fiction, you want to keep the word count to what a chapter might be in a print book.

Another thing to look at even as a fiction writer, you might write a Kindle series of non-fiction books to go with your fiction series. When I wrote, When Panda Was a Boy: a Collection of Stories on Gender Identity for K-8, I could write a series of books on gender identity that would help sell the collection of stories. At this point, I haven’t done that, but I never say never!


If you enjoyed this article, then you might be interested in Creating Magic: How to Use Meditation, Rituals, and Dreams for Book Ideas, which is a $0.99 Kindle Book, part of a series Creating Magic. This book is available on Amazon.com, follow this link: http://publishwithconnie.com/CreatingMagic-Book1

Creating Characters, Creating Fun

One of the most fun things about writing fiction is creating characters. If you’ve never created a character, you probably haven’t written fiction. If you’re new to writing fiction, you’re in for a lot of fun!

A common pastime for fiction writers is people watching! If you have not watched people, try it. It’s simple. You just have to sit in a public place, like a mall or busy restaurant. It’s important that you don’t do any of these four things:

  1. Take pictures of people you see in public places without getting permission. This is a violation of their privacy.
  2. Stare at individual people, and then be seen writing notes. This is just rude, and may get someone mad at you. Some person might even punch you, so you want to avoid the violence.
  3. Interview strangers, so you can fill in a back-story. This is an invasion of their privacy.
  4. Sit in playground areas and stare at children, try to take their pictures, or talk to them. This might get you arrested as a potential pedophile.

Observing human behavior, in general, helps you develop the different personalities. You can also use your friends and families to observe those personality traits. You can create back-stories from people that you know in your life. To truly fictionalize my characters, I always try to combine characteristics. For example, I might use occupation from someone that I know and use a personality and ethnicity of two other people. Mixing it up makes the character unique for your purpose, but something for which you are comfortable. It’s always better to write about something you know: that goes with character development.


Names also play a part of developing characters. Our names often define who we become. Parents often choose names based on the personalities of the people they have met who have that name in common. Ethnic names need to fit, as well. When writing a fiction piece that is set in modern times, you have to consider what names fit the time-period. The same goes for choosing names for characters set in older times, as well. For example, a Cornelia and Hortense are not modern names. On the other hand, Skyler and Madison are popular in modern time.

Making Characters Real

The secret to making characters real lies in developing characters that draw on your own experience and the people around you. Readers need to feel an attachment to characters. They want to experience the story with the character for which they’ve identified. Because the experience is so important, it is important to communicate the senses : feel, smell, taste, hear, and see. Here are a few other ways:

  • Another way to make your characters real is to give your characters “secrets.” Let’s face it, in real life, people have “secrets.” Some are so small and others are larger. How these secrets evolve in your story can make your character feel more real. They can tumble out or the secret can be center to your plot and be revealed at just the right point in the plot.
  • People have both strengths and weaknesses, so give them to your characters.
  • Allowing your characters to be imperfect not only makes them more believable, it lets readers identify with them.

Create characters that feel real by writing in the small details. It is always one of the biggest questions that writers always ask: How much do I write about the characters? The trick is to show your readers more than tell them. But in the end, you need to develop your characters throughout your story or novel. Naturally, a novel and a short story are different lengths, so you have to balance the length with the character’s details.

Writing Skills

Describing both the environment and your character becomes an art. That art is your writing skill.

Writing skills develop with practice. Be adventurous with your writing. You can always revise it later on. Read your work out loud. Hearing it will let you know, if you have gone off the reservation or hit it right. Being part of a class or writing group is a perfect way to get feedback on your writing.


If you enjoyed this article, then you might be interested in Creating Magic: Secrets to Making Characters Real, which is a $0.99 Kindle Book, part of a series Creating Magic. This book is available on Amazon.com, follow this link: http://publishwithconnie.com/CreatingMagic-Book2