My Favorite Quotes

By: Kristen Joseph

One of my favorite things about being a reader is finding quotes throughout the text. Not just something memorable that a character says, or the mantra for a revolution, but a string of words that seem as if they are speaking directly to you, burrowing themselves so deeply into your heart and mind that you could never possibly forget them. Those are my favorite types of quotes.

Whenever I find one that speaks to me like that — whether it’s in a book, text post, or just something that I randomly happen upon — I write it down in a journal specifically designated for quotes. Today, I’ve decided to share five of my favorites with you:

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  1. I am built to weather the storm, to come out on the other side and survive, more confident and equipped than I ever would have thought possible. – Kristen Joseph

This was the last line of my college application essay. I know it’s a tad ridiculous to quote myself, but I just have so much love for this sentence. I wrote the essay about a difficult time in my life that I overcame, and the quote is a nice little reminder that I’ve lived through hard times before, and I can do it again.

  1. Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. – Langston Hughes

A lovely inspirational quote that I found in a fortune cookie, from the Langston Hughes poem Dreams. It’s a great reminder that having dreams, and goals that you’re working towards, is never a bad thing.

  1. q2A word is the only thing in the world made more powerful by absence than existence.The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

The existence of a word is concrete; a definition is given for a situation when the word is present. But if a word is missing, the situation is undefined and uncertain. It’s like when you’re in that gray area of a relationship between just “going out” and being someone’s boyfriend/girlfriend. You need clarity about whether you’re in a serious relationship or just seriously friendzoned before you start planning for your future with the other person. 

  1. When reading, we don’t fall in love with the characters’ appearance. We fall in love with their words, their thoughts, and their hearts. We fall in love with their souls. Anonymous ( amongstwoodedpaths post)

            My reaction to this text post: “YES! Someone finally put it into words!”

  1. That’s why literature is so fascinating. It’s always up for interpretation, and could be a hundred different things to a hundred different people. It’s never the same thing twice.Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Reaction: “Finally. Someone who shares my exact opinion on literature.” This is why I love to reread books — the experience is so different every time, no matter how many times I’ve read the same words.

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Book Sniffin’

By: Kristen Joseph

Okay, I think it’s about time for someone to ask these questions…. What’s up with book sniffing? What on earth even makes books smell like that? And why isn’t there an official term for this particular action? As a fellow book-lover (who enjoys the smell of a good tome on occasion), I decided to research this topic to satisfy my curiosity, and yours.

jpegAroma-Chemistry-The-Smell-of-New-Old-Books-v2-724x1024Old books and new books seem to have completely different scents. The reason? Chemistry. According to an article on CompoundChem.com—where I found the handy-dandy infographic on the left— older books contain a bunch of compounds that make them smell sweeter, particularly chemicals that produce vanilla- and almond-like aromas. This is why the sections of the library with the older books smell so amazing…. Now I really want to go sit around in a library. Queue the nostalgic sigh.

Some people say that they only like the scent of older books, but honestly, the new ones smell amazing too! They may not contain the delightful odor of almond or vanilla, but they still smell like relaxation and happy times (at least in my opinion). Newer books generally smell light and fresh too, as opposed to their older and sweeter counterparts. Nevertheless, these literary aromas are all fantastic.

bookloverNow for the fun fact that I discovered today: there’s actually a term for this. In both noun and verb form, bibliosmia is described as the smell of/act of smelling books. This wonderful word isn’t dictionary-official yet, but many book-lovers are pushing to get the term recognized. So there you have it. Some of the most important literary questions ever posed, answered. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go take a whiff of the novel I’m currently reading.

Happy Sniffing!

Time Traveling with Atlantic Teen: Remembering Pearl Harbor

By Danielle Lieneman

December 7, 1942 was a historic day in United States history. This fateful day was the final catalyst that led to the United States unequivocally deciding to enter World War II and forever changed the course of history. When sitting in your history class worrying about what information is pertinent for the next test, sometimes it’s easy to forget that all of these events were a reality for millions of people. At Atlantic Teen it’s our hope that we can take the impersonal out of history, and inspire you all with the very real, human part of our history.

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-7-49-27-pmIn honor of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we would like to introduce our readers to Lieutenant Jim Downing, the 103-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor and tell you a bit of his story. This poignant retelling is an excerpt from our new book, Events That Changed the Course of History: The Story of the Attack on Pearl Harbor 75 Years Later

Regarding that dreadfully historic day of December 7, 1941, Downing believes the experience provided him and future generations with important obligations. “Well that’s just a part of my life,” he says. “I enjoyed yesterday, I’m gonna enjoy today,I’m gonna enjoy tomorrow.”

On the West Virginia, Downing and the rest of his shipmates were pummeled by nine Japanese torpedoes. Downing was also shot at with machine guns from a plane that flew over.

“One hundred and five men were killed in the attack on my ship,” Downing says. “The main damage was done in the first 11 minutes.”

After a reprieve in the aerial assault, Downing went into rescue mode. “I got aboard the ship after, and all that was left to do was to take care of the wounded and to try to fight the fire.”

The West Virginia was stationed next to the USS Tennessee which was undamaged. Downing, wanting to avoid another explosion if his ship’s ammunition caught on fire, grabbed one of the Tennessee’s fire hoses.

“As I had the fire hose in one hand, I saw bodies lying around, and one was a friend of mine lying on his back,” Downing remembers. “So I tried to turn him over, and then I discovered that the back of his head was blown off.”

That painful image didn’t steal Downing’s eyes for long. He noticed his friend’s identification tag and remembered that all of the fallen could be identified this way. Downing was the postmaster on the West Virginia and had access to all of the crew’s addresses. “Their parents would never know what had happened to them, so I resolved to write letters.”

Downing explains that the standard military letters of death notification didn’t go into much detail as to how servicemen died, no matter how heroic. He spent the rest of the morning fighting flames and memorizing the names of the fallen.

The nearby USS Arizona and the rest of the battleships carried about a million gallons of crude oil that had spilled into the harbor. Downing said the blaze spread to about 200 feet. Even the ocean was on fire.

“I saw sailors who had been blown off their ships submerge and then surface with a film of oil on their bodies. They became human torches and could do nothing about it,” he says, admitting this was the saddest sight of that fateful day. “You’d think once they got off the ship in the water they were safe, but if they landed where the oil was on fire, they burned to death.”

Some of them were rescued, but many were in areas of such intense heat that rescue boats couldn’t get close enough. That afternoon, Downing visited friends and fellow sailors in the hospital, with the intent of writing more letters. Downing spent roughly two hours going down the line, writing down what they said and later transcribing his notes on his manual typewriter.

“They probably couldn’t have read my handwriting,” Downing laughs.

The content of the letters to families was dictated from the wounded sailors themselves, and most of it came as a bit of a shock to Downing.

“I was kinda surprised at the messages that they sent their parents,” Downing says. “Most of them said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m fine, I’ll get well, I’ll see ya again.’ They never made a complaint, but most of them died that night.”

His position as postmaster not only made him popular on payday, it also made him a lifeline of communication in an age when even telephone calls were a luxury.

Jim Downing .JPGWe hope that Downing’s emotional and moving story has created a newfound appreciation for the facts and dates we memorize in school and allowed you to have a human connection with our history. If you want to read the rest of Downing’s story or learn more about Pearl Harbor in general, be sure to check out our book on Amazon.

5 Tips to Combat Procrastination

By: Yvonne Bertovich

I’ve been there, you’ve been there, we’ve all been there. The clock ticking, your palms sweaty, knees weak, heart palpitations ensuing after too much caffeine (see, I’m no Eminem) — all the while a looming deadline hanging over you like a Floridian storm cluster.

Procrastination might as well be the most common affliction, causing us to put off essays, projects, studying for tests, or trips to the DMV (it’ll only get worse as you get older, kids).

There’s something about the thrill of a deadline, or maybe it’s our own egos that often put us in situations of extreme time crunches.

If you’re one of the lucky ones on a traditional summer break without online classes or responsibilities, consider this your wake-up call: you have less than a month left.

If you’re also one of the lucky ones that has a summer book project or reading assignment due when school starts again, you may be thinking you have all the time in the world — so you might as well watch the thirty-ninth episode of Netflix or stare at the ceiling, ’cause gosh darn it, you can.

However, whatever your situation, I’m here to tell you that productivity isn’t a scary thing. It can be done, and your grades (and blood pressure) will thank you for it. Here are five tips to combat procrastination.

1. Break yourself off a piece of that…

No, I’m sorry, I wasn’t going to say Kit Kat bar. Maybe later (see tip #5). Breaking up large tasks into smaller sections is a great way to get things done without feeling overwhelmed.

Let’s say you have a 10-page research paper due on the history of the fork.

First of all, my condolenc862_4047396es.

If you attack the paper one page at a time, it will seem much more manageable. One page a day is much more friendly than 10 pages at 2 a.m. before the deadline. If you’ve gotten yourself into more of a time constraint, try to do two pages a day or even a page an hour with breaks in between (see tip #2).

If you have a project with multiple parts or tasks, break them up into mini projects for yourself and check them off as you go. Just take it one thing at a time.

2. Take a mental “staycation”

What on earth do I mean by this? Well, one of the best methods of planning for myself is mental planning, especially if I’ve reached a stopping point in a project and don’t know where to go next.

Going for a long walk outs767_4827930ide (yes, Vitamin D is important) or doing a few sets at the gym while sorting through ideas or main points in your head is a lot less stressful than sitting there staring blankly at the computer screen.

Even going for a drive can help fuel some inspiration that sitting in your room may be stifling.

Jotting down key points in a note app on your phone while you’re away from your desk (because let’s be real, it’s definitely in your hand or chilling in your pocket like a kangaroo offspring) can help you stay organized when you return.

3. Use the Rocky method

He may not have been a champion in the classroom or at stand-up comedy, but he got the job done. Please don’t eat any raw eggs, though.

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Making sure you’re completely prepared before you buckle down to work on an assignment can greatly benefit you in the long run.

Eat balanced meals to stay sharp throughout the day, and take a snack break or two. The more wholesome the foods you’re eating are, the better you’ll feel and the better you’ll be able to work. Groundbreaking, I know. Try to mix in a sensible combo of protein, fruit and veggies, healthy fats, and whole grains whenever possible.

Practice breathing. Keep a cup of your favorite beverage by your side, and please (not to go all Mom on you), drink some water, too. Your brain will thank you.

Rocky is also known for his great soundtrack. Creating a playlist of motivating songs such as some hardcore rap, classical, country, EDM or whatever YOU like and having it play in the background can help keep your momentum going. Chair dancing is all the rage, too.

4. Think about the bigger picture

Usually, the hardest part of any project or assignment is simply starting it. Whenever you find yourself thinking “I’m soo bored,” maybe open up that rubric or that novel and knock out some work.

403_2918083.JPGWorking on a project for 20 minutes a day may not seem like a lot, but in the long run, it’ll quickly build up. Especially if you start, like, right now.

The sooner you start that project or assignment looming over your head, the more peace of mind you can have later. Plus, the quality will undoubtedly be better, because you’ll leave more time to review your work and avoid sloppy mistakes.

You’re right, it may be one dumb project. You may never need the information you’re mindlessly regurgitating ever again. It may temporarily occupy brain space and energy you’d rather be devoting to catching Kardashians or keeping up with the Pokemon — or something like that.

But the sooner you commit yourself to exerting effort and focusing on quality, the breezier the rest of your school years will be; trust me.

5. “Treat Yo Self”

I’m all about the reward system, because it works. It worked training my puppy 10 years ago (where does the time go?) and it works for training myself, too.

Rewarding yourself with breaks as you progress on your project keeps you from getting burnt out, and it helps with maintaining energy levels. Let your brain relax with one episode on Netflix (emphasis on one) every few hours, grab a smoothie, or whatever you choose.

You can also make a promise to yourself to cash in on something once your project or assignment is complete. There’s honestly no better feeling — to me at least — than hitting that submit button or sending in an assignment. Maybe your reward is something as small as your favorite meal out, or, if it’s a bigger project, a weekend away at the beach with your friends to unwind. Or, even better, go for that Kit Kat bar. You’ve earned it.

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Five Things I Learned from My Internship at Atlantic Publishing

By Taylor Gaines

It’s hot outside. You probably feel like you need to shower two to seven times a day to deal with the humidity (that’s not just Florida, right?). The days are actually longer during summer than any other time of the year. But for some reason, whether you are in school, working at a job, or just hanging out at home, summer always seems to be gone before you know it.

This summer was certainly no different for me, one that I spent here at Atlantic Publishing blogging and writing and editing and phone calling and twittering and sitting and standing and driving and much, much more. I did and learned more than I could have ever hoped for during my internship here at Atlantic. But for my last blog post as an intern, I want to take the time to talk about some of the things I’ve learned from my time here.

So, without further ado, here are five things I learned from being an intern at Atlantic Publishing.

1) Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect, but It Sure helps

The old adage about bringing your lunch pail to work every day is certainly tired and more than a little cliché. You’re probably pretty close to journeying far away from this part of the internet just because I brought it up. But listen. There really is something to it!

As a writer, there is something I find incredibly soothing, nourishing, and beneficial to coming in every day and working on my skills. Whether I was writing blog posts, editing upcoming books, or making phone calls to sales reps, I felt like I was improving my skills in one way or another on a daily basis.

In my first blog post, I wrote about the importance of reading and writing a lot if you want to become a good writer. I have to say — and I’m far from perfect — I feel more strongly about that than ever. Writing is not about being struck by creative inspiration and writing the Next Great American Novel. Writing is about sitting down at your desk every day and spitting out words. You can’t get better if you don’t put anything down on the paper (or the screen).

2) Hard Work is Contagious

Maybe you’ve been vaccinated and can’t be infected by it, but in my experience here at Atlantic Publishing, I’ve found that hard work is incredibly contagious. Whether it was our editor, Rebekah, working in the cubicle across the way or the warehouse guys working their butts off next door, I always felt like I had to work harder just to keep up with everyone else here at IMG_2008Atlantic. Looking around and seeing that everyone else wants to do a great job definitely makes you work a little harder so that you feel you deserve to be working alongside them.

It’s like when you watch the Super Bowl-winning team rant and rave about how great their locker room environment was and how they really pushed each other to success. Listen, I’m not 100 percent sure if we could put together a Super Bowl-winning team here at Atlantic. But I like our chances.

3) We Are Not Atlantic Publishers

I’m sure that when I was telling family and friends about my internship this summer, I may have accidentally called the company Atlantic Publishers once or twice at the beginning. Heck, I’m Criminalssure we’ve all done it. Publishing, publishers; they’re pretty similar words, I don’t blame you. But let me tell you something.

WE ARE NOT ATLANTIC PUBLISHERS. We are Atlantic Publishing. Atlantic Publishers is a scam magazine subscription company based out of Colorado who tries to steal money out of the pockets of the elderly. They send fake bills to people and ask them to send money in. Do not send them money. Do not pay $200 a year to subscribe to People Magazine. If you do either of those things, don’t expect the magazine to actually come in the mail. If you get a bill from Atlantic Publishers, throw it out. It’s not real. And it’s not us. It’s a completely different — and far less legitimate — company. We don’t like them either.

Trust me, we get a lot of calls about it.

4) Commuting Isn’T Really that Bad (But it Kind of is)

I don’t think I ever really understood why my dad was always complaining about his hour-plus commute to work. I wasn’t necessarily running around going Get over it already, Dad, but I definitely didn’t get why it wasn’t something you didn’t just get used to. But you know what, I get it. I drove 45-50 minutes three days a week to work at Atlantic, and I got annoyed by it sometimes. It can be long, and draining, and really mess with your sleep schedule when you have to factor a couple hours of driving into your schedule every day.

But it’s also kind of comforting and soothing to hop in the car and go into the office like a grown-up. I took a route without much traffic, and I have a pretty healthy podcast diet. So I usually had something to look forward to. I’ve always been one to be catching up on podcasts a week or two after they come out because there are just too gosh-darn many that I really like listening to and not enough time to listen to them. But you want to know something about commuting? I am always caught up on podcasts. Not only that, I find myself looking forward to new episodes coming out rather than dreading having to catch up on all of them. It’s an entirely new cultural experience for me.

(Okay, maybe I care about the podcast thing a little more than I should…but still! It’s pretty great!)

5) Publishers Do a Lot of Stuff

I never would have considered how many different things go down at a book publishing company.

There’s writing and editing; those things I expected. There’s emailing, answering phones, and having meetings; those things I should have expected. Then there’s inputting book data into something called ONIX, calling sales reps for libraries and schools around the country, and finding reputable professionals to write forewords and case studies for our books. Those things actually make books and book-selling happen, and I never even considered them.

There are a million more things, too. We check books for plagiarism, we look up BISAC codes, and we make glossaries and indexes for our books. We even have a distribution center right next door to our editorial office. Really, it all happens here. I may have thought I would come to Atlantic, do some writing, do some editing, and be on my way. Instead, I did that and much, much more, getting a ground-level look at the publishing world and seeing the ways it is changing and evolving every day.

I’m not sure I’ve earned the right to pull of some kind of poetic ending to this post or to make some kind of memorable goodbye (and hey, it’s not like I’m dying, my internship is just ending), so I’ll just say this. Thank you for reading. I hope you learned something at some point, or at least enjoyed something. Keep reading, and keep writing. We’ll see you real soon.

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Writing Help + Life Tips: How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

By: Lauren Capps

As writers, we all have struggles to overcome when we start out and are knee-deep in an 80,000-word book. The constant questions and doubts running through your mind can start to overwhelm you, and if it does, maybe you think it just isn’t worth it to keep going. Or that you need to delete the whole project and forget about it.

Well, I am here to tell you, do not do anything of that sort. You are a writer. You live, sleep, and dream about characters, plots, and even movie adaptations that you hope will become a reality someday. Don’t give that up just because it’s hard or you don’t think you are good enough.

Some of the main struggles that I and other writers have gone through or even worried about are:

“Am I a good writer?”

“Does this sound right?”

“Good Lord, this is awful. I’m deleting that and starting over.”

“What is my writing voice?”

“How would this compare to (insert author here)?”

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And many more.  But the main topic of this post is to help you stop comparing yourself to other writers. If you clear that doubt from your judgment, you will be one step closer to success. Here are some ways to show how comparing impacts your life, and some tips to help you overcome it.

“Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against your authentic self.” -Iyanla Vanzant

1. Comparing Stops the Learning Process

By focusing on others’ work and always envying what they do, it can stop the process of learning how that person is successful or how they write so well. If you focus on finding their secrets to success, then you will be able to apply it to your own work.

2. Don’t Compare Yourself to the Likes of, Say, Stephen King

If you are comparing your unpublished, never-before-seen-by-the-public work to the likes of the best books by the best authors, you are only putting yourself down, and it will negatively impact your work. As a first time author or a newly published one trying to get your work noticed, you can’t expect to be as good as them. I know it’s hard to hear, and sometimes the truth hurts. Focus on yourself only. Think of ways you can be successful in your own right. Sit down and write the best way you know you can, so you don’t even need to think about those high-end authors.

3. Comparing Takes Away Control

By constantly comparing yourself to others, you are letting it not only impede your judgment but also take control of your life. It will negatively impact your emotions and values. It’s a destructive habit that only you can get out of. By taking back the control over your life, you can choose to be positive and focus on what really matters — your own work.

“Personality begins where comparison leaves off. Be unique. Be memorable. Be confident. Be proud.” -Shannon L. Alder

4. If You Need to Compare, Compare Yourself

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Sometimes comparing and competing can be beneficial instead of negatively impacting. Don’t compare yourself to James Patterson; instead, compare yourself to yourself. Think about what you have achieved in life and see how successful you have become already.

Look at the progress you have made in your book — have you written 50,000 words? That’s awesome! Use this shift of thought to help you overcome negative habits, and it will only show in your work to come.

5.  Break the Habit

If none of those tips helped you, and you are still having a hard time with comparing yourself to others, try to break the habit. The first step is to be aware of when you are judging yourself or your work to others. When you do, stop yourself and think: “I am better than this. I am a good person and a good writer.” Think about positive things like how you won that writing contest, or any positive aspect of your life. Don’t focus on your weaknesses but rely on your strengths to help you overcome negative thoughts. And finally, be yourself.

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If you are OK with who you are and how you do you, you won’t need to compare yourself to others. Stay focused, stay positive, and kick that nasty habit to the curb. By doing this one simple thing, the only direction your life is going is up!

“Whatever your passion is, keep doing it. Don’t waste time chasing after success or comparing yourself to others. Every flower blooms at a different pace. Excel at doing what your passion is and only focus on perfecting it. Eventually, people will see what you are great at doing, and if you are truly great, success will come chasing after you.”-Suzy Kassem

 

 

 

Writing Hacks: 5 Tips to Help You Start Your First Nonfiction Book

By: Rebekah Sack, Editor

Starting a book can be a pretty daunting task — especially if your goal is to write a fiction book that carefully reflects the life you’ve lived in some profound, poetic, literary way. However, if you really need to get your name in print, starting with a nonfiction book can be the perfect way to jumpstart your career.

Nonfiction is much easier to write and edit than fiction. There is less “creative justice” that must be served — though being creative certainly shouldn’t be dismissed — but that means that the editor won’t get caught up in ambiguous territory. Most nonfiction prose is pretty straightforward: that sentence isn’t parallel? Fix it. This chapter seems out of order? Move it around. This date is wrong? Change it.

The writing process also closely imitates that of a research paper. You do the research on the topic at hand, take close notes while doing so, and then you begin.

But, for many people, that’s where the “ummm, what?” faces start to form. How exactly do you begin? Here are 5 easy tips to get your first nonfiction book in print.

1. Figure out who you’re writing for

So, you want to write a book. You’re a natural-born writer, but the writing world seems like a catch-22, right? If you don’t have something published with your name on it, the big publishers won’t take you seriously.

That’s where considering a work-for-hire job can be useful. These kinds of jobs mean that you take the topic that the publisher assigns you, and you churn out the book for a set amount of pay. You don’t earn royalties on the book, but you do earn the invaluable experience of working for a professional publisher as well as an editor. Many fiction writers spend years working on their drafts, and they never see their work come to fruition (meaning they never earn a dime).

To find work-for-hire writing jobs or freelance writing gigs in general, check out Upwork and LinkedIn. I get messages on LinkedIn often about freelance opportunities, and you’d be surprised how successful this kind of networking can be. There are others, but as an editor for a publishing company that frequently hires work-for-hire freelancers, these are the ones I would recommend.

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2. Research similar books on Amazon

Whether you land the work-for-hire job or you plan to start your book on your own, it’s important to be clear about what’s already on the market. For example, let’s say you want to write a book for young adults about bullying. The logical first step would be to type “bullying book for teens” or something of that nature into the Amazon search engine and to look closely at the first page of results. Take note of the titles (unless your publisher has already finalized the title in a work-for-hire circumstance) and use the “Look Inside” feature to browse the table of contents. What appeals to you? What kinds of topics are being covered? What appears to be missing? You may find areas that you wouldn’t have thought to include in your book, but your key is finding the missing stuff — what are people in need of that isn’t being given to them?

That’s the sweet spot, and that’s exactly what you need to capitalize on to make a name for yourself in the industry.

It can also be useful to test out questions on social media or to your target audience. You might come up with a list of questions like these:

  1. How prevalent is bullying in your life?
  2. What do you want to know about bullying?
  3. Do you have any personal stories regarding bullying?
  4. What do you think other people should know about bullying?

3. Draft up an outline

Once you’re comfortably familiar with what is already on the market, it’s time to draft up your outline. Again, some publishers might actually already have an outline for you to work from, but many won’t — they’ll expect you to come up with one yourself that the editor will approve.

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I have seen many outline submissions myself, and I have a few do’s and don’ts:

DO

  • Format your document carefully.
  • Include brief statements explaining what your headings mean.
  • Be thorough — a half-page or even a one-page outline is lazy.
  • Try to group things in threes — If Chapter 1 has 2 subheadings, do your best to come up with a third. In general, when things are grouped in threes, it feels more right.
  • Make note of sources you have that might help with a certain section — this will help you in the long run.
  • Do NOT send in an unpolished outline for an editor to review. You will drive me her crazy.

DON’T

  • Be sloppy.
  • Include too many details — while a 6-page outline with paragraphs under each chapter heading might seem like a good idea, at the end of the day, the editor expects an outline review to take a short amount of time. If she has to sift through a 6-page paper, you’re making her life a bit more difficult than it needs to be. Keep your detailed notes in a separate document and only include short descriptors.
  • Have underwhelming titles. Your goal is to impress and to have an outline that is as close to the finished product as possible. You will have leeway as you write, but do your best to brainstorm the best titles and headings.
  • Leave out key information. This is why researching what is already out there is so important. Take careful notes of what everyone else is doing so that you know you aren’t missing something. If you’re writing a book about managing a restaurant and you forget to mention scheduling issues, you’ve missed the mark.

4. Stick to a schedule

I’ve seen it happen, and it’s not pretty. The deadline is at the end of the month, and you’re only one-third of the way there. While setting a writing schedule can be intimidating, do your best to plan a certain amount of time to work every single day. I would advise against a specific word count (I’m going to write 1,500 words every day), messy deskand I would steer you more towards a time-related goal (I’m going to sit down for 1.5 hours every day). The reason for this is that not all of the work you’re going to be doing is writing.

With nonfiction work, there’s a lot of research and documentation that needs to be done. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself sitting down and spending 30-45 minutes just reading the latest research. That doesn’t directly translate into a word count goal, but it does count toward the progress of your project.

The important thing is that you’re sitting down every day, and you’re progressively working toward the finish line. If you don’t keep up with it, you might find yourself being kicked off of the project, or worse, never finishing the book you set out to complete.

5. When you’re done editing, edit some more

This is particularly important if you’re not doing a work-for-hire job, but no matter how you slice it and dice it, it’s still key to producing quality writing. When you submit a manuscript to anyone, whether it be an agent, a publisher, or your editor, it should be, for all intents and purposes, an edited draft. There should not be any grammar or punctuation mistakes, the sentences should be coherent and well-formed, and there should be little to no thoughtless mistakes, such as the word “or” being “of” on accident.

An editor expects to fix things, but not careless mistakes. She expects to fine-tune — move this sentence here, add a paragraph here, create a hook there — not to be doing spell-check for you on what was supposed to be your final draft. Take pride in your work. Sure, you might be working for a miniscule paycheck, but your reputation is on the line. This is your stepping stone, and you’re making a name for yourself. Only submit work that you’re proud of, and you’re on your way to becoming a successful author.

Happy writing!

Break The Ice: Five Team-building activities to use this Fall

By: Grace Hudgins

Getting acquainted in a new place is probably one of the hardest things to do as a young adult. I’ve heard it doesn’t get much easier when you’re an adult either – not to be a Debby-downer or anything. But as students, we’re constantly meeting new people, becoming a part of a new team or leading a set of students on our own.

I’m currently rewriting a book that has 365 team-building activities – emphasis on the 365 – so icebreakers and team bonding exercises are the only topics that I can think about this week. It’s kind of beneficial for me though because of the leadership positions I have in college. I’m always trying to think of new activities to bring my group members closer together, and this book has given me a couple of great ideas.

So this week, I’ve decided to pass along my now expert-knowledge on teamwork and introductions to you all just in case you have a leadership position back at school like me.

Below, I’ve listed 5 icebreakers that don’t suck are sure to make your first few classes/team meetings/orientations a breeze.

1. Two Truths and a Lie

This is a classic icebreaker that’s used at pretty much every orientation, team meeting, or first day of school/classes. It’s a great way to get to know people. No matter if they are just your classmates, teammates or club members, it’s a great start to conversation.

How it works: Everyone will write two true facts about themselves and one lie. Taking turns, everyone will read what he or she wrote and have the others guess at which fact is the lie. It’s fun to include personal facts that are surprising to people, and hear about what people actually have and have not done.

78_32944772. The Name Game

I’m sure there are more versions of this game, but the one I’ve listed is a lot of fun. I’ve played it at many leadership retreats and dance camps, and it’s always successful.

How it works: Each person writes his or her own name on a tag. The leader then collects all the names and the team sits in a circle. The leader then sticks the tags on the backs of the people at random. When the leader says, “go,” everyone gets up and tries to find his or her tag. Each person also tries to prevent others from seeing the tag that is on their back. When team members find their tags, they grab them and put them on their chests. The game ends when everyone has found his or her tag.

3. Find the Common Thread

Different details can be added to this exercise to make it fit the occasion you’re using it for. It’s fun to play because you get to see how much you have in common with those around you.

How it works: Divide your team/class/group members into two, and give them a chart with how many ever slots your heart desires. From there, your team will have to walk around and talk with others to find out if they have anything in common. Ten is usually a good number because it’s not too long or too short. Whoever has the most first wins.

4. Gifts and Hooks

As I was researching different team-building exercises for the book I’m revising, I came across this one written by a managing director for leadership strategies. It’s simple, will get your team talking, and maybe even form a bond of trust between group members. It can be used for students also to help with group projects and assignments.

How it works: Have each person write down their “gifts” or skills they think they can contribute to the team, along with a “hook,” which is a flaw, that they think they could improve. Once that’s finished, have them walk around and discuss it with a partner or have them post their answers on a wall. From there, the leader (if that’s you) can decide who will work best with whom or figure out how to tackle the year ahead. For more details, read the instructions here.

5. Color Personality Tests

These are a lot of fun, and they make people think about their everyday actions. You can find these online anywhere, but it’s basically a survey that will tell your team members what kind of personalities they have. Once everyone has figured out what color and personality type they have, it will be easier to group certain students together based on their results.

How it works: Check this one out as an example.


Here are three that suck are not very good.

1.What Animal Are You?

Yeah. I saw this one as an employee team-building activity. I don’t really think I need to explain it either. Piece of advice: Don’t make students who are in high school or college play animal charades as an icebreaker, much less full-grown adults at work. Just take my advice and don’t do it.

2. Make the Largest Bubble67_3979458

Yes, you read that right. This is an exercise where team members have to make bubbles out of soap. Not sure why anyone would think this activity builds character, but I wouldn’t suggest it to people 10 and up (or period, but that’s just me).

3. Share the Crayon

This is another one I researched that didn’t really make sense to give to people older than 10, but to each his own, you know?

How it works: Each team member gets a different color crayon. Give the team a subject to draw and color. They must create the object together. Everyone must use his or her own crayon and only one person can draw at a time. The goal is for everyone to use his or her crayon at least once in the picture. You can choose different objects to draw.

At the end of the day, you know your team the best. So, if the last three activities I listed would work well for your team, then by all means give them a go. Just try to keep in mind the age group of your team’s members and what your team needs to become stronger.

The Internet is a great research tool, as well. So if you can’t wait for my new book to come out in a few months or so, I know Google would suffice until then (wink). Happy preparing to all you fellow leaders/presidents/board members!

Good luck, and have fun team building!

 

Sneak Peek: What Makes a Great Screenwriter

By: Taylor Gaines

Guess what? We’ve got another sneak peek for you on the AtlanticTeen blog! Today, I want to reveal an excerpt from the first chapter of my upcoming book, “So You Want to Write a Screenplay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing for Film, Video, and Television.” In this chapter, we talk about some of the qualities that make a good screenwriter.

Qualities

Let’s take a look at some of the skills that go into being a successful screenwriter.

Curiosity

Why are we here? What is our life’s purpose? What is true love? These are the kinds of questions that float through the heads of screenwriters. They are just people searching for answers to life’s questions.

It might help to be someone who thinks about things in a curious way, too. Wait, why aren’t we allowed to chew gum in class? Do I really have to ask my teacher to use the restroom? Why can’t we use our phones in class? If you are constantly questioning things, you might just be a writer.

ASK THE EXPERT: “If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.” –Stanley Kubrick, filmmaker and 13-time Academy Award nominee

Research skills

Thanks to the Internet, audiences can check the accuracy of even the smallest fact in your movie. This makes it harder and harder to get viewers to suspend disbelief and go on your film’s journey. Your ability to research online, in books, and through other critical fact-finding sources will help you a great deal as a writer in avoiding these mistakes.

Details1089_4594337

Your character cannot just have a dog. Your character has to have a golden retriever named Skippy. Details are critical to making your story pop, and you’ll find that the most successful screenwriters are very detail-oriented. For images to resonate with people, they have to be as specific as possible. The saying “show don’t tell” is a good one to remember as you write.

Let’s say that one of your main character’s traits is that he is nervous around others. Don’t simply say, “He walked around nervously.” Use your character’s actions to show the nerves. For example, “He pulled at his shirt constantly; he kept his hands in his pockets; he kept playing with his hair.” Don’t be afraid to get creative and specific.

ASK THE EXPERT: “Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work…Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.” –Stephen King, author whose books have inspired many movies and television shows

Brevity

When you are writing a movie, you have to question what is and what isn’t necessary for the story to ensure it has as little fat on it as possible. Is there anything worse than a bad movie that’s also way too long? Screenwriters have to work in a more confined space than, say, a novelist. Extra words have no place in a script.

Flexibility185_3110116

As a writer, you have to learn how to swallow your pride. In trying to sell a script and get a movie made, you will have to learn how to accept feedback in order to make your script stronger. This may mean an entire re-write, cutting certain scenes, or changing characters. This can be a hard thing to adjust to, but it’s the nature of being a writer.

ASK THE EXPERT: “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” –Elmore Leonard, author whose books have inspired many movies and television shows

Dedication

Writing and rewriting your script can be a tedious and lonely process. Even once you finish your script, there is a lot of work to be done in researching agents, preparing treatments and manuscripts, entering contests, and working on marketing tools like short films and websites. Are you prepared for all of the hard work?

Vision

In the movies, the final vision is often credited to the director. It’s impossible to make a film without a screenwriter, though. A good screenwriter needs to be able to craft a vivid image and strong characters. This might mean crafting detailed backgrounds and biographies for characters, even if that information doesn’t make it into the script. Some writers sketch out floor plans of characters’ homes and main locations in the script to help them better visualize things.

As you work on your craft, you will see these skills continue to develop and improve. You will grow more and more comfortable with the writing process. You will also discover many other qualities that can assist you in your writing. This is by no means an exclusive list.

Writing Commitment

Don’t let yourself mythologize writers. Even successful ones have times where they struggle to write. It’s not a magical process where shooting stars come out of your fingers and you type up an entirely beautiful and elegant script on the first try.

You probably know someone who walks around claiming they are writing a screenplay with no evidence that they are actually doing so. Many people fall in love with the idea and never get around to executing it.

One of the reasons it’s difficult to finish a screenplay is because it can be hard to stay focused and committed when your work is not producing the same results every day. If you’re working out, for example, that’s easy. You run on the treadmill for 30 minutes, and you burn a certain amount of calories. With writing, be warned: Results may vary.

One day, you may write 1,500 words in an hour. The next, you might get inspired and write 3,000. Then writer’s block may hit, and you’ll only write 500 words the next day. It’s easy to get frustrated by this fluctuating output and want to quit.

The more you sit down and write, though, the more consistent you’ll get. Just stay committed. Sit down for a set amount of time every day and get it done.

Get inspired

Writers should always be writing. As you go about your day, you should be thinking about your screenplay. Let it soak into every part of your life. You’ll find that things that happen in your daily life make their way into your script or inspire parts of it.

One thing you could try is keeping a notebook with you at all times in case inspiration strikes. Having one or two sentences or ideas written down can help you avoid writer’s block and keep your flow going. If you don’t feel like going old school with a handheld notebook, use the notepad function on your phone to serve the same purpose.

Don’t get lonely

It can be really hard to make yourself sit down in a quiet place to write every day when your friends are busy having fun. Being alone might be necessary for you to do productive writing, but it does not have to be a completely solitary experience.

Try building a network of writer friends so that you have someone who will read your work and give you honest feedback. If you feel like you are drowning in a project, it can be very helpful to have someone not involved with it give you some perspective.

If you are enrolled in a creative writing class, there will most likely be times when you can get critiqued on your work. Most writing classes do a dedicated workshop for the students — you might be able to pass around your tentative first draft there. If not, you can always email teachers and ask for advice: “Would you be willing to take a look at this draft, and if not, could you possibly point me to someone that could? Perhaps a writing group exists that I don’t know about?”

Even asking a friend or parent who doesn’t seem interested in moviemaking can be useful. It helps to know what an average person thinks of your story as well. Stories are the way humans interact, so they are bound to have some thoughts (though you might not want to listen to all of them).

Stay strong

At the beginning, you may be very excited about working on your script. You’ll tell everyone you know about it and think about it constantly. As the process begins to require more time and effort, though, you may struggle to stay focused. The writing may begin to feel like a slog. At this critical moment, you have to push through and keep working.

Writing cannot just be a hobby or something you do in your spare time. It has to become a habit. If it’s not part of your daily routine to sit down and write, you will probably struggle to get your screenplay done. Tell your family and friends not to disturb you during your writing time. Download a program like Freedom or Write or Die that will block Internet use when you’re supposed to be writing. Focus.

Remember to check out my upcoming book, “So You Want to Write a Screenplay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing for Film, Video, and Television,” available to pre-order on Amazon very soon.

What do you want to read about the most? (BONUS Giveaway Entry)

We started this blog to offer our readers the stuff they want to know most from experts in the nonfiction book publishing industry.

So, tell us what you want to read about most, and we’ll get to work.

 

If you have a specific suggestion for a post you’d like to read, please send in a comment using the comment form below. As a thank you, you will automatically be added to our next book giveaway! (Can I get an amen?!) praying hands