5 Minute Fiction: Truce

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Part of being a writer is taking the time to practice, whether it be through penning long chapters at your desk, or even scratching down an idea while getting your car’s oil changed. My favorite way to bust through writer’s block and practice my craft is to set a timer for 5 minutes, and write with no distractions.

These 5 minute increments have helped me to solve major plot problems in my larger works, and even to spark inspiration for new short stories. By simply sitting down with the intention of writing something new, I am able to channel my creativity onto the page, and into the story in front of me. While not always resulting in award-winning levels of literature, the little time that goes into this exercise has big payoffs.

Below is one of my recent 5 Minute Fiction stories:

Truce

He reaches out his hand, and knowing I have few viable options, I stick out mine to accept. It was either that, or topple backwards over the cliff we had just scaled. I figure it’s safer to call a truce for a few minutes than risk an eternity of death.

Holding on tight, he pulls me over the ledge, helping me to find my footing on the surprisingly solid ground. Once my breath is caught and we have a safe three feet of distance between us, I give myself permission to look up.

Before us stands a mansion, piercing up into the soft blue sky dotted with clouds. Harsh angles send ominous shadows in every direction, and the creaking of the front gate releases chills down my spine.

We’d been warned of this place. We’d been told stories of the danger and tales of previously failed expeditions. I’d believed all of their words to be fake. Yet, standing here now, I wonder if our journey will end the same.

I don’t get a chance to let these worries last, because before I know it, he is walking away from me and toward the fortress ahead.

I want to ask him if he’s crazy, but I can’t choke out the words before he turns back to me, questioning, “Well, are you coming?”.

 

 

Tips and Tricks on How to Get Published

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You’ve done it. You’ve typed that last word, and your novel is complete. After countless sleepless nights, the book you have dedicated your life to is now written. The weight of a million paperbacks has been lifted from your shoulders as you bask in your creative glory, but not long after, the daunting question arises:

Now What?

Now that you have a full manuscript in front of you, the goal of most writers is to get that stack of papers published. However, publishing your work isn’t as easy as calling up Penguin and making a bid. In fact, the business of publishing is an intricately complicated maze, that if you don’t know what you’re doing, can mean the end for your novel.

While difficult, getting published isn’t impossible, and can be made easier with these tips and tricks:

Edit Thoroughly
The best way to help your book get published is to make it the best possible version of itself that it can be. Never query books that are incomplete, and don’t be afraid to rewrite large chunks to make the overall work better. Getting a deal on a polished book is much easier and attainable than trying to sell a first draft manuscript.

Find an Agent
Do your research, and reach out to agents that you think would be a good fit for both you and your writing. Agents are your friend in this industry, because they are always looking out for your best interests – both creative and financial. Your agent will work for you, putting your book in front of the right publishing houses, and getting you the network connections you need to succeed as an author.

Do it Yourself
A valid, respected way to become published in today’s world is to simply do it yourself. Take a class on self-publishing, and start to sell your book in that way. Be mindful though that when you do choose to forgo traditional publishing, your book will realistically only be available in small markets and electronically. If your dream is to see your novel on the shelf at Barnes and Noble, this may not be the option for you.

Be Patient
Publishing takes a long time. From querying agents, to selling your book to a publishing house, to getting the final draft printed, getting published can take years. Don’t give up if publishing is your dream, and instead use this time to your advantage by learning everything you can every step of the way, and continuing to write every day.

Are you a published author? What did the process teach you?

 

5 Hidden Gems in Kansas City

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Kansas City is more than just prairies and Wizard of Oz jokes, and now that I’m back living here, I’m excited to dive right into the City of Fountains. There are a lot of things that make Kansas City great, but some of the more hidden gems around town include:

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Sporting Kansas City
We may be known for our World Series Champ Royals or Arrowhead Stadium, but Kansas City is actually the soccer capital of the world. Sporting KC plays its matches right over stateline at Children’s Mercy Park, and is home to some of the best players and fans in MLS.

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Q39
While famous for Joe’s KC and other mainstream BBQ joints, Kansas City also houses the best of the best at Q39. With a line out of the door that is always a couple of hours long, this restaurant is well worth the hype (and wait).

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Kansas City Public Library
I mean, just look at it. Enough said.

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Kaleidoscope
Located in Crown Center, Kaleidoscope is an interactive children’s center that encourages creativity and learning. Even though its target is a kid demographic, Kaleidoscope is a great escape for both the young and the young at heart.

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The Unicorn Theatre
Kansas City is the place to be for theatre, and The Unicorn is no exception. This intimate theatre showcases some of the best new works in the country, and is always on the leading edge of art innovation.

What are your favorite Kansas City hidden gems?

The Four Best Book Series

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Anyone who knows me knows that I love reading. If I could, I would spend every second of every day with my nose in a book, which is probably why I’ve already surpassed my Goodreads goal for the year after just two and a half months…

However, the one thing I love more than a good book, is a series of good books.

Book series often get a bad reputation for just being a financial tactic, and while that may be a big bonus for publishing houses, series are much more than money makers. Book series allow for readers to continue on in the lives of their favorite characters, and grow up alongside them. When a book is a part of a series, it helps people to get excited about reading again. I mean, who doesn’t remember all of those Harry Potter bookstore release parties, complete with costumes, games, and up-all-night readathons?

While book series are now starting to become the norm for authors all over the world, here are four of the best from years past:

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Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
I bet you have seen the movie – but have you read the books? The Sisterhood books are an honest look into what it means to find your place and navigate the world as a young woman. This series by Brashares dares to cover controversial topics, while also remaining humorously relatable. Complete with four original novels, the series even wraps up with Brashares revisiting the group ten years later in Sisterhood Everlasting.

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The Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire
Everyone’s heard of Wicked, but not everyone realizes that the hit Broadway musical is loosely based on Gregory Maguire’s works. A darker spin on Oz, this series dives into what it is like to be on the receiving end of Dorothy’s classic tale.

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Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
A classic like none other, Wilder’s stories about life in the pioneer days are just as heartwarming as ever, even in our current world of social media and smart phones. Based on the life of Wilder herself, these novels focus on what it was like to live in the late 1800’s, and build a life from the ground up. Aimed at a younger audience, these books are still able to capture and entertain even the oldest of readers.

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Divergent by Veronica Roth
The lesser-known dystopian franchise, Divergent follows characters Tris and Four as they fight for the future of their society. Often overlooked, this series by Roth is a more substantial take on corruption within a not so distant future, while also providing a well written love story fit for its Young Adult placement. As a bonus, you can even read on from Four’s perspective with Roth’s Free Four.

Have you read any of these series? Which is your favorite?

 

 

4 Factors in Written Content Success

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As a digital marketer, you know that great written content is the backbone of your online brand. Everything from SEO to ROI depends on the words you are crafting, so you better be sure to make each one count.

Here are 4 factors that are key when it comes to developing great written content.

Keep it Short
Your audience doesn’t want to read a novel on your blog, so stick to lists and concise articles. Keep your word count to under 400 words, and always be mindful of including visual content to help break up any paragraphs. Short content will grab consumer attention, and ensure that they actually read the entirety of your work.

Use Active Tense
Opt for active verbs over passive so that your readers will feel like a part of the story rather than an observer of it. The active tense will create a stronger connection between consumers and your brand, and not to mention, will make your content more reader friendly and memorable.

Be Positive
No one wants to spend their time reading a blog or website that is negative. People are looking for positivity in the world, so write your content in a way that boosts that feeling. Instead of talking about the problems people are facing, discuss how your company is actively working to make the world a better place, and how your product or service can help. A positive message is much more likely to be shared and noticed than one full of complaints.

Stay Familiar
When writing your content, stick to familiar, short words. Choose your words so that they can easily be interpreted, yet still get your point across in an intelligent manner. People want to be able to relate to your company, so write to them in the same way you would speak, should you ever meet your consumers face to face. An ACT level word may add flourish to your piece, but simplicity will drive sales in the end.

Your written content is a major part of your company’s online presence, so pay attention to the words your are creating. By keeping your content relatable, short, and direct, you will be able to be discovered by new audiences quickly and efficiently.

What are your tips for creating great written work online?

February 2017 Reading Wrap Up

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February has been a crazy month for me, so I haven’t been able to read as much as I wish I could. With my upcoming move, extra hours spent on freelance work, and the unfair fact that February is naturally shorter than the rest of the months, I was only able to squeeze in 9 books.

That being said, they were 9 great books, and I enjoyed every single one.

The books I read this month were:

  1. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
  2. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
  3. Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella
  4. Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume
  5. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  6. A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius by Stacey Matson
  7. Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks
  8. Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
  9. Torch by Cheryl Strayed

Catch up with my thoughts on these books by adding me on GOODREADS.

Here’s hoping March will be made up of more reading time!