Category Archives: Archives 2014

Take the Cliché Challenge and eradicate them in your writing

When I judged writing contests and edited copy for a newspaper, I cringed whenever I saw a cliché. I cringed a lot.
Sometimes, I would even be reading a first draft of my writing, and what do you know? I found a few clichés.
The definition of cliché says it all. A word or phrase that’s lost its power because of overuse.
Clichés are around for a reason. They are so easy to use and so available. But when you use them that means you’re taking it easy in your writing. You’re not pushing yourself creatively.
It is funny that they have changed over the years. When I taught a creative writing class to young people and gave them a list of clichés, they didn’t recognize them because we have developed some newer clichés like these.

No way
Enough said
Really? (as in you see something dumb or incredulous and your response is ‘really?’)
Whatever

Clive Whichelow and Hugh Murray have even written a book about the modern ones called “It’s Not Rocket Science: And Other Irritating Modern Cliches.”
However, there are still a lot of the old ones hanging around and finding their way into your writing.
Think about it this way. Clichés were written or said by someone else. You don’t want anybody else’s writing in yours, do you?
Writing is about originality and if we want ours to be original, we must declare war on those pesty clichés.
How?
First locate and eradicate them in the editing process. In addition, have your critique partners read your writing because they may find ones that you don’t.
A fun way to work your brain is to break clichés and turn them into something new and in your own voice.
Start with what I have dubbed the Cliché Challenge.
Come up with a list of clichés and then rework them to make them new and yours. For instance take the cliché “All that glitters is not gold.”
My take on it–Her golden life had the glitter of a brick.
You get the idea.
Lists of clichés are all over the Internet. Here is a good one.
http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-cliches.html.
Do a few each time. It will be hard and your brain will be sweating.
Good luck and happy cliché hunting.
_-Patricia Santos Marcantonio

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Kaitlyn Armstrong – Winner of What is a Hero Contest

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We are proud to announce the winner of our What is a Hero Contest.

Kaitlyn Armstrong is a sixth-grader at O’Leary Middle School.  We met Kaitlyn in May at the annual Career on Wheels held at the Eldon Evans Expo Center in Twin Falls where she picked up an entry to our contest. An aspiring writer, Kaitlyn won $50 for her following essay, which she read for an audience Sunday, September 7, at the Twin Falls Barnes & Noble.

Congratulations, Kaitlyn!

 

What is a hero?

           What do we think of when we hear the word “hero?” Being able to fly? Having super powers? Wearing a fancy cape? Is a hero someone who beats the bad guy or rescues a damsel in distress? When they slay the dragon or ward off the bad guys is the title automatic?

To me, a hero is someone who nurtures and cares about who they’re being a hero to. The teddy bear of a young child can be the champion as it wards off the dark and the nightmares in an unfamiliar place. Children witness these acts of heroism, great and small, every day. When children fall victim to the relentless teasing of bullies, the child who stops it is seen as a hero in the victims’ eyes.

And it isn’t just with children either. The smallest act of heroism from an adult can be cherished by the recipient. I found that the counselor at my previous school was seen as a hero in most people’s eyes. Easy to talk to and quick to understand the problems she was confronted with, she was the go-to person for problems about friendship and family. For some children it is hard to talk about personal problems with their parents, so being able to discuss things really took a burden off their shoulders.

In some cases, being called a hero follows immediately after a courageous act, but in others, it takes time and effort. I believe that in order to become a hero, you must work for that title. Otherwise, the hero must accomplish a deed of great kindness. Afterwards, the hero must live up to the expectations of the recipient and respect, even accept, the title they have been given.

Now as I said before, a hero to me is someone who nurtures and cares for the people around them. I think the title “hero” should be earned through acts of kindness and compassion. These are the qualities in a role model I look for, which is exactly what a hero is, a role model, and that is what a hero will always be to me.

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The Perrine Bridge Festival was Awesome

We had so much fun today at the Perrine Bridge Festival. It was a little windy, but, then, this is Idaho. Thanks,  everyone, for stopping by and saying hello!

 

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Getting Ready to Launch

You’ve written a great book and someone wants to publish it. You take a deep breath and sigh. You can relax now. The hard work is done.

Wrong. The hard work is just beginning.

Both Patricia Santos Marcantonio and I have books releasing this fall. My book Waiting is scheduled for release by Booktrope in September. Pat’s book, The Ghost Sisters and the Girl in Hallway B, is also scheduled for release by Sunbury Press. Any given day you can watch us scurry, like the busy squirrels outside, as we get ready to launch our books.

Countless times we’ve been asked which is better, to self-publish or to go with traditional publishers? Over the years we’ve learned it doesn’t matter. Regardless of how our books are published, the work we, the authors, have to do to launch a book is the same. We’ve also learned it’s good to start early, before the book is released. Once the book is released is often too late.

Here are only some of the things we have to do to launch our books.

1)    Build an online presence. In addition to social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) create author pages at Amazon and Goodreads. There are also other sites like Shelfari and Smashwords. Every day more opportunities arise for social promotion and it’s up to the author to make sure this happens (unless you’re lucky enough to have a publicist willing to do this for you).
2)    Have a website, a blog, and update it regularly.
3)    Have a public email address where your fans can reach you.
4)    Your publisher may ask for back cover blurbs. Have some ready. Ask readers/fans you respect and admire, preferably someone who writes in the same genre, and be willing to reciprocate.
5)    Ask for reviews and be willing to give one in exchange. Remember to say something nice about the book, even if it is only that you like the title or the cover.
6)    Make a budget and stick to it.
7)    Build a mailing list and an email list.
8)    Make sure your media/press kit is up to date with current pictures and information. Spend time writing an interesting bio.
9)    Design and order swag, something like bookmarks or postcards you can sign and handout at book signings and events.
10)  Schedule giveaways and perhaps a Facebook launch party.
11)  Seek out book clubs. Offer to attend through Skype. If you haven’t done so, develop a reading guide list of questions.
12)  If you don’t have a publicist, prepare press releases and contact the media.
13)  Determine whether or not to promote your book with ads. Is there money in your budget?
14)  Schedule blog posts, blog tours, and guest posts. Be sure to reciprocate.
15)  Schedule book signings.

These are only some of the things you need to consider before you launch your book; there are countless more suggestions online. Make some time now, before your book releases, to develop a plan and then try to stick to it. Take a deep breath and try to stay calm as you plan your book launch. But most of all, remember to smile, and enjoy the journey. Then kick off your shoes and celebrate, you’ve earned a nice reward.

-Bonnie Dodge

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We Have A Winner!

We are so excited. We have a winner to our “What is a Hero?” contest. We are bursting to tell, but we won’t announce the name until Sunday, Sept. 7 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 239 Pole Line Road E. in Twin Falls. We have an exciting afternoon planned starting at 1 p.m. Come out and help us celebrate.

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Knievel jump anniversary event features book, Skycyle discussions

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A discussion about Evel Knievel’s Skycycle and a new children’s book about Knievel’s 1974 jump across the Snake River Canyon will take place Sunday, Sept. 7 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 239 Pole Line Road E. in Twin Falls.
The 1 to 4 p.m. event is in conjunction with River St. Press’ release, “Billie Neville Takes a Leap” by award-winning authors Bonnie Dodge and Patricia Santos Marcantonio. The story is about a ten-year old girl who dreams of being a daredevil amid the excitement over Knievel’s jump near Twin Falls.
At 1 p.m. Jay Michaels, the liaison with the Return to Snake River project, will talk about Bob Truax, who designed and built the X-2 Skycycle used by Knievel during the Sept. 8, 1974 jump. He will discuss why the 1974 Knievel launch didn’t work as planned, and the differences between the original X-2 Skycycle and the updated design that Truax’s son Scott hopes to launch over the canyon this fall with his team, fellow engineer Craig Adams and Hollywood stuntman Eddie Braun.
Dodge and Marcantonio will also discuss the writing of the book. In addition, the winner of River St. Press’ “What is a Hero” essay contest will be announced. The contest was open to students entering the sixth grade.
Copies of “Billie Neville Takes a Leap” also will be available for purchase and signing.

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Deadline approaching for essay contest

Magic Valley kids entering the 6th grade this fall listen up. Aug. 15 is the deadline for our “What is a Hero?” essay contest. The winner will receive $50!

There is no entry fee. The contest is sponsored by River St. Press in conjunction with the release of its new children’s book, “Billie Neville Takes a Leap” by Bonnie Dodge and Patricia Santos Marcantonio. The book, which will be released in May, is about friendship and heroes.

Ten-year-old Billie wants to be a daredevil, just like her hero Evel Knievel. She also wants a best friend. Riding “the best bike in the whole world,” Billie’s desperate to enter a bike jumping contest with three boys named The Meanies and show them her cool skills. In the meantime, she also enters an essay contest in hopes of meeting Knievel. When the famous daredevil comes to Twin Falls to jump the Snake River Canyon, Billie learns she has to be a friend to make friends and that not all heroes have to soar over canyons.

The River St. Press contest is open to any student who will be in the sixth grade by September 2014. Essays must be typed or printed, and no longer than 400 words. They must include the entrant’s name and telephone number, and the name of the school the writer attends. The entry deadline is Aug. 15. Entrants can email their essays to riverstpress@outlook.com or mail them to River St. Press, P.O. Box 5073, Twin Falls, ID 83303.

The winner will be announced at a book party in Twin Falls. The winning essay will be printed on the River St. Press website, riverstpress.com.

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Idaho Statesman review of Billie Neville: A fun read

A new kids book coming soon.

A new kids book coming soon.

http://www.idahostatesman.com/2014/08/03/3307933/evel-knievel-is-10-year-olds-hero.html#

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Sixth-graders invited to enter ‘What is a hero?’ essay contest

Students entering the sixth grade are invited to write an essay entitled, “What is a Hero?”

There is no entry fee and the winner will receive $50. The contest is sponsored by River St. Press in conjunction with the release of its new children’s book, “Billie Neville Takes a Leap” by Bonnie Dodge and Patricia Santos Marcantonio. The book, which will be released in May, is about friendship and heroes.

Ten-year-old Billie wants to be a daredevil, just like her hero Evel Knievel. She also wants a best friend. Riding “the best bike in the whole world,” Billie’s desperate to enter a bike jumping contest with three boys named The Meanies and show them her cool skills. In the meantime, she also enters an essay contest in hopes of meeting Knievel. When the famous daredevil comes to Twin Falls to jump the Snake River Canyon, Billie learns she has to be a friend to make friends and that not all heroes have to soar over canyons.

The River St. Press contest is open to any student who will be in the sixth grade by September 2014. Essays must be typed or printed, and no longer than 400 words. They must include the entrant’s name and telephone number, and the name of the school the writer attends. The entry deadline is Aug. 15. Entrants can email their essays to riverstpress@outlook.com or mail them to River St. Press, P.O. Box 5073, Twin Falls, ID 83303.

The winner will be announced at a book party in Twin Falls. The winning essay will be printed on the River St. Press website, riverstpress.com.

 

 

 

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Collaboration is not a four-letter word

My friend, writing buddy and business partner Bonnie Dodge and I have different writing styles. I mean, different.
However, we successfully collaborated on our new children’s book, BILLIE NEVILLE TAKES A LEAP. The story is about a tomboy who dreams of being a daredevil amid the backdrop of the famous Evel Knievel jump over the Snake River Canyon in 1974. We were excited about collaborating on a project, and also a little nervous we might kill each other before the process was over. But we found a great way to work together.
Here is how we did it.
We came up with a thorough outline of the book. Namely, the important things that had to happen in each chapter to propel the story forward. Because of that, and to use a cliché, we were literally on the same page as far as the book.
We decided to each write a chapter. Because of our different styles, we decided against first person. We wrote the book in third person, in which we could more easily blend our distinct styles.
We edited each other’s chapters and then edited the book as a whole together, which also helped to blend our styles. This worked out well. Sometimes, we even had to stop to remember who wrote what. Bonnie and I have been critique partners for years so we also knew how to tap each other’s strengths to improve the chapters we wrote individually.
We knew our characters, both major and minor. We agreed on what they wanted and what made them unique. We both really liked and clued into our main character Billie. She spoke to us and we told her story.
When we disagreed about how a passage was written, we discussed the section until we could both live with the final outcome, which was usually better because of the discussion.
Collaboration is also helpful in that your writing partner may catch inconsistencies that you missed. Two pairs of eyes are indeed better than one.
We ended up with a great book that we are both proud of, and are still good buddies. In fact, we are going to collaborate on another book.
Patricia Santos Marcantonio

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