Monday, October 24, 2016

Andrew Joyce author of YELLOW HAIR, discusses Doing Research for a Book

Our guest author today is Andrew Joyce. He left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.

How important is research when writing a book?

I would say that it’s very important. In my first book, which takes place in the last half of the 19th century, I made two mistakes. I had the date of an event off by one year and I had my hero loading the wrong caliber cartridge into his Winchester rifle. I would have gone blissfully throughout life not knowing how I had erred if not for my astute fans. Both mistakes were quickly pointed out to me in reviews of the book. One guy said he would have given me five stars if not for the wrong caliber bullet mistake. I had to settle for only four stars. Lesson learned!

How did that change the way you approached your next book?

My second book was a western and the protagonist was a woman. The research took about three months. I had to know everything from women’s undergarments of the late 19th century to prison conditions for women in those days. (I sent my heroine to jail.) That kind of research was easy. Thank God for the internet. But then I had to do some real research. Molly (my protagonist) built up her cattle ranch to one of the largest in Montana, but she and her neighbors had nowhere to sell their beef. So Molly decided to drive her and her neighbors’ cattle to Abilene where she could get a good price. She put together the second largest herd on record (12,000 head) and took off for Abilene.
That’s when I had to really go to work. I wanted my readers to taste the dust on the trail. I wanted them to feel the cold water at river crossing. I wanted them to know about the dangers of the trail, from rustlers to Indians to cattle stampedes.

This is how I learned about all those things and more. First of all, I found old movies that were authentic in nature. I watched them to get a feel for the trail. Then I read books by great authors who had written about cattle drives to soak up even more of the atmosphere of a cattle drive. That was all well and good, but it still did not put me in the long days of breathing dust and being always fearful of a stampede.

That’s when I went looking for diaries written by real cowboys while they were on the trail. After that, I found obscure self-published books written by those cowboys. Then it was onto newspaper articles written at the time about large cattle drives. That’s how I had Molly herd the second largest cattle drive. I discovered that the largest was 15,000 head, driven from Texas to California in 1882.

Are historical facts all that is needed to be researched? What about geography, indigenous people, weather patterns, and the like?

My next book took place in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. Here new elements were added such as wolves and the extreme weather as adversaries. Dogsledding was also involved. I have seen snow only three times in my life and I have never dogsledded. I knew even less about wolves. I had to learn about those things. I had no idea what it was like to travel across a wilderness on a dogsled at seventy degrees below zero. I also had to acquire knowledge about the dogs themselves, especially the lead dog. I learned about all that by doing the same things I did for my second book. The old diaries were the most helpful. As to the gold rush, there was plenty of material in the form of self-published books by some of the participants. Some were never even published, but I found copies of them in the archives of universities and historical societies. Again, newspaper stories printed at the time were very useful. Concerning wolves . . . I read everything I could get my hands on about wolves—their habits, the pack hierarchy, the alpha male, and the different jobs or tasks the males and females have while hunting.

Did you do anything differently for your current book, Yellow Hair?

The book is about the Sioux Nation from 1805 to 1890 and I had to know both points of view, the white man’s and the Sioux’s. Getting to know the whites’ take on things was easy. There are many, many books (non-fiction) that were written at the time. I even found a book written by Custer detailing his strategy for wiping out the Sioux entirely. That was hard reading. And, again, there were universities and historical societies whose archives were a great help.

As to the Sioux’s point of view, there are a few books that were dictated to newspapermen years later by the Indians that took part in the various battles that I weave into my story. I found a lot of material from Native American participants of the Little Big Horn, written twenty to thirty years after the fact.
But I wanted to immerse myself in the Sioux culture and I wanted to give them dignity by using their language wherever possible. I also wanted to introduce them by their Sioux names. So, I had to learn the Lakota language. And that wasn’t easy. There is a consortium that will teach you, but they wanted only serious students. You have to know a smattering of the language before they will even deign to let you in. I had to take a test to prove that I knew some Lakota. I failed the first time and had to go back to my Lakota dictionary and do some more studying. I got in on my second try.

In conclusion, how would you sum up your thoughts on doing research for a book?

It’s time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. But it is also a blast. Every new discovery is like finding the mother-lode.

Any last thoughts?

Only that I would like to thank you for having me over, and by the way, the three books I alluded to above are:
·         Molly Lee

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Good Shows About Bad People: Five Tips to Writing Wonderful Terrible Characters

Good Shows About Bad People: Five Tips to Writing Wonderful Terrible Characters

Secrets of Creating a Profitable Blog


Did you know that:

·         People are actively seeking blogs to search for information?
·         A blog can be turned into a money-churning machine?
·         Advertisers are always on the lookout for popular blogs?

Here’s the good news…

We found this amazing blueprint on creating a profitable blog, that you can follow step by step, it will walk you through exactly how to get free traffic to visit your site, and more eyes on your blog always means more value. 

Finally, you can create a long-term online income.

This blueprint, in the right hands and with the right actions taken,
is almost guaranteed to generate results beyond any ink of
imagination you can have…

You can do this regardless of without much experience, many skills or very much knowledge.

To Your Writing Success!
Trent Steele, Editor
Write Street Newsletter 
Self Development Network 

Make a Living Writing Workshop

It all starts today and tomorrow with some awesome free training from best-selling author Jeff Goins on how to make a living writing. 
If you aspire to make a living writing, Jeff is the guy to learn from.

But sign up quickly. Even though there are multiple times to choose from, Jeff’s trainings traditionally fill up very quickly - so get your name on the list now.

During this workshop, you’re going to learn:
  • Jeff’s step-by-step process for escaping your day job and making your first $1000 as a writer.
  • What it takes to tap into your writing voice and share it with the world.
  • How to get A-list authors and bloggers to promote your writing.
  • The process every writer can use to get your first 10,000 readers.
..and that’s really just a tease. Jeff packs his trainings with great information. You’re really going to love this! 
I highly recommend you get in on this workshop if you’re at all serious about making a living writing.

Jeff’s offering the training at several times today and tomorrow - so there’s bound to be a time slot that’s convenient for you. Plus, it’s totally free.

Jeff says he’s holding nothing back in this workshop. He’ll be telling you exactly what he did to start making seven figures per year writing - and how his process has helped thousands of other writers build an audience and make money with the written word. 

Get in before it fills up!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bob Selden discusses his new book, “Don’t”

With Bob Selden’s wife snaring a marvelous job in Switzerland in early 2002, he decided he needed to take some change of direction in his career.  So, in addition to continuing coaching and training managers (in both Europe and Australia), he decided to write about how managers, and particularly new managers, might take on board some of the lessons he’d learned as a manager and organizational consultant.

The result? 

In 2007 he self-published (through Outskirts Press in the US) “What To Do When You Become The Boss: How new managers become successful managers”.  It started to sell well immediately with a lot of marketing on his part.  Shortly after, it was picked up by McMillan’s in India and later by Hachette in Australia and the UK.  At time of writing, it’s sold around 55,000 copies and been published in four languages (English, Chinese, Polish and Portuguese – the later for the Brazilian market).  In Australia, it’s now in a revised edition and 4th reprint (approx. 9,000 copies sold).  Major Corporate such as Sun Alliance Insurance, the CSIRO and Rocla issue it to all their new managers.

He has now penned a new book, still in non-fiction and a different genre.  The title is “Don’t: How using the right words will change your life”.  Principally it’s about how the words we use can impact our own and others’ behavior – either positively or negatively.  

D.O: Welcome Bob Selden. Thank you for joining us today on Authors’ Curtilage Book Dialogue.

B.S: Thanks Damilola, glad to be here.

D.O: We have some eager blog audience here today looking forward to talk to you about things that bother them base on your book.

Question from blog audience: It is my understanding that your book is about how the words we use can impact our behavior both positively or negatively. Is the book also about the do not use phrases that can have a negative impact on one’s career?

B.S: In a nutshell, yes.  The book is about becoming a far more positive person by using positive language. Positive people tend to see opportunities that others miss and are prepared to take advantages of these opportunities (they always express obstacles or barriers as “challenges” rather than “problems”). Also, positive people tend to see others in a more positive light and are consequently liked more often by others. The result? People who are positive and well liked tend to get selected more often for promotion than those who are negative.

D.O: What was your main reason for writing the book “Don’t?”

B.S: I’ve been using the ideas in “Don’t” for many years in both business and personal situations and have found that they really work. The success of my earlier book gave me the motivation to put pen to paper and get these messages out there as well.  Plus I got a gentle nudge from my wife who suggested I should write about it rather than just talking!

D.O: “Don’t: How using the right words will change your life” This is a deep label I must say. Bob, what inspired the title of this book?

B.S: Titles for books are often difficult. Although “Don’t” was one of the first I came up with, as a positive person I felt that it may seem too negative.  However, after much brainstorming (with friends/colleagues) and soul searching on my part, I revisited the golden rule for naming non-fiction books – “The title should pose the question/problem and the sub-title should answer it”.  I was also helped by my former business partner who suggested the tag line “Unlock the do in don’t”. Both of these are on the cover.

D.O: Wow! That was clever steps you took there. How can a person 'perfect' the more successful parts of their own behavior through words in order to reproduce more positive language using the book “Don’t?”

B.S: There was a recent study conducted in the UK where over 40,000 people responded to a questionnaire about what led to their success.  Number one response was positive self-talk. There are a number of references and suggestions in “Don’t” on how one can practice using positive self-talk to reinforce one’s strengths. In particular, one chapter covers expressing personal qualities/goals/targets in the present tense as “I am …” rather than “I will …” or “I am going to …” Doing this tricks the brain into thinking that it’s already happening!  Mohammad Ali was very good at that.

D.O: In one of our email exchanges, you said you think much of the content of “Don’t” should be taught in our schools. From my own discovery average schools nowadays by their very nature, are breeding grounds for rudeness including the use of negative language. So are you saying “Don’t should be read to students as text books or be integrated into the schools’ virtues curriculum?

B.S: Not necessarily the book “Don’t” (although that would be nice for me as the author), but the principles outlined should be. For example, getting rid of “Don’t” and replacing it with the positive action you want to happen, and also phrases such as “But”, “Yes, but”, “Don’t you think that …” and many more negative phrases that tend to lead to confrontation or conflict rather than cooperation.

D.O: Hmm. I hope school owners around the world are reading this. Looking at the day to day challenges of life that make people easily give up and become all negative on themselves, what are the structures you put in place in “Don’t” to help your potential readers sieve their behavior of negativity and concentrate on the positive part of life using optimistic words in difficult times?

B.S: Each chapter in Part One has a number of exercises that people can apply immediately, for example “getting rid of don’t”, “using positive metaphors”, “replacing ‘but’ with ‘and’” and more.  Additionally, there are two strategies I suggest:
1.    List out 20 things that you are grateful for in life (and revisit this list regularly)
2.    Each day, find someone who is doing something well and thank them for it.

D.O: One of the circumstances I think prompt people to apply the do not use negative language is failure. Is there any content in “Don’t” that boost people’s courage?

B.S: The practical exercises at the end of each chapter are designed to do just that.  So, for people who are a little unsure as to whether these strategies and tactics will work, some are very simple and bring immediate results. Seeing positive results from one’s behavior produces further positive results.

D.O: What is the process of adopting positive behavior or language?

B.S: The best way is to start by writing out some of theDon’t” statements you are likely to use during a normal day.  Then write out the positive alternative. Whether you’re a parent teacher, manager – whatever your role - in the heat of the moment, it’s very easy to use a “Don’t”. Writing out the alternative gives you much more time to work out what you will say when the situation arises rather than reacting on the spur of the moment.

D.O: How can a person completely stop unhelpful or destructive patterns of thinking and usage of negative language?

B.S: Use all the principles outlined in “Don’t”! Seriously though, our patterns of thinking develop from the words we use, so making the changes I’ve suggested will definitely prevent these unhelpful or destructive patterns from occurring.

Question from blog audience: I am an entrepreneur. I face challenges from different sources that depress me. And sometimes I tell myself I’m a failure over and over, before picking up myself again to continue pursuing my goals. Do you think this kind of acknowledgement can prevent success in my final destination?

B.S: “Failure” like “Don’t” is a word that should be eliminated from one’s vocabulary. Using the word “failure” immediately brings to mind situations where one has failed and so the brain says “here we go again”.  When receiving feedback such as this, one could say “Well, that was less successful than I’d hoped. Let’s see how/where I am doing it differently” You’ll notice that sports people such as tennis players when they miss or fluff a shot they immediately replay the shot with an air swing the way it should have been played.  In this way the brain registers the good shot rather than the poor one.

Question from blog audience: When writing your books, what do you have in the back of your mind, the riches and fame or impacting peoples’ lives first?

B.S: I only think about the topic and how my words can help people improve their lives.  Everything else comes from doing a good job with the book.

D.O: [SMILES] that’s a good one! Did you encounter any sort of obstacle when you started out with writing this book?

B.S: Not really. The research was very time consuming and also enjoyable.

D.O: This is for those willing to write a powerful book as yours. What is the best way to write this kind of book, "pitch" it to a publisher and protect the idea?

B.S: That’s a tough question and probably needs another book to answer! In short, a book such as mine starts with an “idea” – an idea about what issues/challenges most people have and then finding simple ways that they can be met. For example, many managers I’ve spoken with over the years have said something along the lines of “When I have to give a person some difficult news, I always seem to get the words wrong” So helping these managers “get the words right” started me down the path of looking at the impact words have on behavior.

As to pitching it to a publisher? Well, my experience has been to get the book reasonably well completed first with heaps of feedback from friends, colleagues and fellow authors. This feedback will provide you with the weak spots in the book (which you can correct) and the things you like (these you can use in your pitch). 
Not sure about protecting the idea, apart from registering the name, domain name and getting an ISBN.

D.O: I’d say getting feedback on the ideas is very important. In the screenwriting world we call this story note. With this story note, a writer is able to build subsequent draft from the feedback until they have a polished draft they can put in the market place for optioning or other forms of contract. Well, your first book has sold 55,000 copies and been published in four languages – English, Chinese, Polish and Portuguese. And you are on your way to another huge success with “Don’t” what’s next on your agenda? 

B.S: Good question.  That’s what my wife often asks too! There are a few ideas floating around and I may have to get back to you on this.  In the meantime, I’m working with a colleague to develop a course on “How to write and publish a book” which can be completed remotely – very exciting.

D.O: Hmm. I can’t wait to host that on the blog. Do you have any final thoughts to share with those struggling to use positive language?

B.S: I go back to the points I made earlier …

1.    List out 20 things that you are grateful for in life (and revisit this list regularly)
2.    Each day, find someone who is doing something well and thank them for it.
These two things are sure to keep you on the right path.

D.O: Thanks once more for joining us today Bob Selden. I wish you all the best.

B.S: My pleasure. Thanks for inviting me Damilola.

D.O: Goodbye everyone and remember to pick up your personal copy of "Don’t." from the following buy links.

Bob Selden joined the Authors’ Curtilage Book Dialogue via email from Cross Nest Australia.

Happy Mother's Day

A mother's worth is incalculable and cannot be overstated. She gives up her wants and needs to ensure your happiness. Her presence in yo...