Saturday, June 28, 2014

3 Simple Steps to Implement Before You Write to Make Formatting Easier

Post by Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley, co-founder

     So, for those of you who plan on self-publishing, formatting is a huge issue. Now, there are many good books on this, many of them free on Kindle, that can tell you how to format you book, but generally you look for those after you've written your book, right? Well, today we'll be looking at a few steps that you take before and during the writing of your book that will make formatting much easier when you get to it. Also, if you're paying someone to format it for you, and they are paid by the hour, then these will severely decrease the cost, as your formatter will have much less to do.

     Step 1: CTRL+Enter

     If you use a computer, then you know that CTRL+Z is "Undo", and lots of people know CTRL+Y means "Redo", but few people know that CTRL+Enter (Or Command+Enter in Macs) means "Page Break". So, instead of simply pressing enter until you reach the next page when you finished a chapter, you just hold CTRL and click Enter, and it will jump to the next page.
     This is especially helpful for ebooks, which normally can be flipped on their side and are rarely in the same proportions as they appear on your computer, which means that pressing enter won't take it to the next page, but rather to somewhere in the middle of the next page, or possibly the same page, or two pages forward. But ebooks understand page breaks, so if you put one in, no matter the proportions or rotation, your next page will actually be the next page. They also making things neater for print books, so if you later on decide to add or subtract something, all the subsequent chapters won't need to be re-positioned. Same for if you change font type or size.

     Step 2: Do not use headings in ebooks

     Or footers, for that matter. Ebooks don't understand them, and they'll either end up as text or something else, maybe have code attached. The best-case scenario is that they won't appear at all. Remember, because ebooks can flip, they don't have page numbers, and does your reader really need the title of the book up there every page? Like Brian Reagan said, have you ever been half-way through a book and gone, "What the heck am I reading?"
     Obviously you can use them in print books (depending on your provider, but if yours doesn't, you may want to find a different company) and when the pages stay the same, it's really nice to have page numbers.

     Step 3: Do not use Tab

     Tab is evil. Neither print books or electronic ones deal with it well. Ebooks generally put the line to about the middle of the page, which does not look good. Instead, before you've even started, set the indent of the first line to .5, or whatever your preference is.

     On a modern Word program (it may be a bit different with Mac or older Word versions, or as new versions come) press CTRL+A to select the whole document. Then look at the top ribbon and make sure you are on the "Home" tab, which is where it starts. One of the sections (e.g., clipboard, font, etc.) should be called "Paragraph". Find the expand button, which is normally in the bottom right corner. Click on it, and a window should open up.
     Go down to "Indentation". There you can choose the right and left indentation, but leave those alone. To the right of them will be a drop-down menu that says "Special". Select "First line" from the list, and then go to the "By" option to the right and set it to .5, or as I said, your preference.

     Now, every time you hit "Enter", your computer will make the indentation for you! Now, if you have anything that is going to be centered, like poetry, you'll have to select that section and undo this, otherwise it will be a half inch to the right, rather than completely centered.

     I hope these have helped, and I know it'll save whoever's doing your formatting in the future, especially if you're doing ebooks!

Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley is an aspiring author and poet. To learn more about her, see our About Us page. You can follow her on Twitter here: @ElisabethGTK.

We have a poetry contest open, the theme is "patriotism". Come see the guidelines here!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Reply Poems

Post by Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley, co-founder

     Reply poems are not like sonnets or haiku, but refer to a completely different aspect of a poem. They are pretty self-explanatory: reply poems are a reply. However, they are specifically to another poem. One of the better-known examples would be "A Passionate Shepherd to His Love" and "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd".

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
By Christopher Marlowe

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.
The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.
The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd
By Sir Walter Raleigh
If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.
Time drives the flocks from field to fold
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold,
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.
Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten
In folly ripe, in season rotten.
Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.
But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.  
     As you can see, they sometimes copy the rhyme and/or meter of the original poem, but they won't necessarily. There is nothing specific that needs to be done to make a reply poem, though the most important thing, aside from poem quality, is to make it so that people can tell that it is a reply poem. With the previous one, it is pretty obvious (to those of the time) because the original was a fairly well-known and it has many lines that are quite close to the original. Another option is to do what I did in my poem below, which is to "address" the poem.
     First, I'll give you the poem I'm replying to:
By Percy Bysshe Shelley

The flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow dies:
All that we wish to stay
Temps and then flies.
What is this word's delight?
Lightning that mocks the night,
Brief even as bright.

Virtue how frail it is!
Friendship how rare!
Love how it sells poor bliss
For proud despair!
But we, thought soon they fall,
Survive their joy, and all
Which our we call.

Whilst skies are blue and bright,
Whilst flowers are gay,
Whilst eyes that change ere night
Make glad the day,
Whilst yet the calm hours creep,
Dream thou- and from they sleep
Then wake to weep
To Shelley’s “Mutability”
By Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley
Wrong! For though much I live is dream,
 I know it is only that, no more
 But from what you seem
 To say, the truth is but sore
 But I look around and I see,
 Though I could live off dreams if need be,
 There are more joys in reality!

 Though left and right there is sorrow
 And morality seem only to decay
 I need look only to tomorrow
 For the Lord guides each and every day!
 What can we expect after the Fall?
 That the world would be perfect as a doll?
 Nay, but the Devil shall not take all

The skies need not be bright,
 Nor the flowers gay, for me to know joy
 Will a mere day without light
 My heart’s happiness destroy?
 To last, happiness must be deep
 And while I loves the dreams of sleep
 I shall not wake to weep
     I hope you've enjoyed this, and I hope that you have a good time with your poetry. Perhaps we should have a reply poem contest soon, huh?
Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley is an aspiring author and poet. To learn more about her, see our About Us page. You can follow her on Twitter here: @ElisabethGTK.
We have two contests right now, one of which is poetry. To see the guidelines, click here.
 Our other contest is an art contest, we extended the deadline! Come see more here.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Mother Art Contest Extended

     Hey guys, we're extending the deadline for the Mother Art Contest to the 25th. Enter soon! The guidelines can be found here.

     Good luck to all entrants, and remember, the prize is a much publicity as we can muster!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tell your story!

post by Catsi Eceer, co-founder

If you're reading this, chances are, you're a storyteller. A writer. A poet. Even a painting can tell a story. You have a story, and you want to share it with the world. You want others to see your story, read your story. You want to be published, or famous, or whatever will get your story out there.

And really, who doesn't want that?

But sometimes, when we get so caught up with the goal of publishing, or fame, or whatever it is you're working towards, we lose sight of what we're really doing--telling a story.

We get caught up in the words, or the mechanics. We just need to get everything perfect, and then we'll be published. Then people will know who we are, and then we'll be famous.

The funny thing is, though, when we're trying to be perfect, that's when we're the farthest from our goal.

I'm guilty of this, too. Just recently, in fact, I was working on my current novel, and I was trying to be perfect. I want this novel to be published. I want it to be well known. A best-seller. I want everyone to love it.

But it's so not perfect.

And when I realized that, it was depressing. My thoughts started to be something like: I'll never be published. This book is stupid. No one would want to read it, anyway. Any agent to sign me would be making the biggest mistake of their lives. Why am I even wasting my time on this? Why am I writing this? I can't even write! I'm the worst writer in the history of bad writers. Look up "bad writer" in the dictionary, and there will be a picture of my face. See, I'm so cliche, I can't even come up with an original example of how horrible of a writer I am.

 Somewhere during my depressing mental-rant, though, my brain stumbled across this: Who cares?
Well, I care. I want to write well.
Well ... because I want to be published.
Um ... So people will read my story?
Don't you have to write a story first?

And it stuck with me. If I'm trying to write something perfect, I'm losing sight of my story. If all I can think about is being published, there's no room left for my story to just be a story. And that's what I want--A story. I'm not writing the next trend, or the next New York Times bestseller. I'm just writing my story.

That's not to say you shouldn't try to write well, of course. Just that your main focus shouldn't be on the quality of your writing style, or how likely it is for your book to become the next Hunger Games. Sure, go ahead and daydream, but don't lose sight of your story.

Write it. Write your story. Don't write a book, or a best-seller, or anything else like that. Just write the story you have inside of you.

Catsi's writing dictionary:
Book--A published work. Can be fictional or not.
Novel--A full-length written story, whether published or not.
Story--A tale of adventure, romance, suspense. Can be written via prose or poetry, or conveyed on a canvas. Pirates are optional.

To learn more about Catsi, see the About Us page.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

How to Write A Shakespearean Sonnet

Post by Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley, co-founder

     Probably the most well-known style of sonnet is the English sonnet, due to it's other name, the Shakespearean sonnet. I'll begin with the sonnet's structure. Unlike the Italian sonnet, which has two sections, the English sonnet has four. The first three are called quatrains, and the last one is called a couplet. The quatrains are each four lines with a rhyme scheme of ABAB, while the couplet is two rhyming lines. They are all written in iambic pentameter, which means that it has ten syllables, the second, fourth, sixth, eighth, and tenth of which are emphasized.
     So, for example, the first quatrain might be something like this:

One day I woke up and looked around me

And finally saw what it was I had

And asked myself, "How could I not see?"

With all these blessings, I can but be glad

     Not very nice, but as you can see I've got the right number of syllables as well as the rhyme scheme. Now for the next one. Remember, the rhyme scheme is the same, but it doesn't have to match up with the last one.

Certain blessings I saw to rise above

That were far greater than all of the rest

These were the things that had my strongest love

And I wondered which of them I loved best

     Once again, very pasted together (like the addition of "all of" simply to meet the syllable count) but it works. Here you might see that I'm presenting a question. Normally in an English sonnet, the quatrains bring up a question, and the couplet answers it.

So I asked of each, would I live for them?

For my Lord or my writing I would live

Either brother, oh, I would live for them

For my dearest friend, my life I would give

     The only things left now is the couplet. Hopefully that'll turn out better than the quatrain.

I realized then just how I was blessed

That I could not find which one was the best

     There we go, finished. If you'd like more examples (and better written ones) just type "Shakespearean sonnet" into your search engine.
     Honestly, I usually do rhymed free verse, and am not good at making things fit syllable constraints. But it's good to try new things, and so I've required myself to write a poem of each kind I teach, though I'm not fond of it. Anyway, I hope you guys found this useful, and I can't wait to see your sonnets!

Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley is an aspiring author and poet. To learn more about her, see our About Us page. You can follow her on Twitter here: @ElisabethGTK.

We have two contests right now, one of which is poetry. To see the guidelines, click here.
The other one is an art contest. 3D art is allowed to! Come see more here.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Synopsis Contest Winner & Patriotism Poetry Contest Announcement

     Our synopsis contest has concluded, and the winner is Azaria Durant!

     An outlaw fighting for her sister. A slave boy in a desperate flight for freedom. And an ancient curse on a broken golden arrow to decide the fate of both.

     Congratulations, Azaria, and good luck with your book! If you would like to find out more about Miss Durant, visit her website here, or her facebook here.

     I am also happy to announce a new poetry contest! In the spirit of Memorial Day, which just passed, and Independence Day, which is in the month that this contest will close, the theme is Patriotism. While this was inspired by two American holidays, we would love to see poetry of all other countries, though I'm afraid they have to be in English, as Catsi, the other judge, cannot read Spanish. Well, I suppose you could send in something in a different language, but be aware that we aren't very likely to choose a poem we can't understand. Translations are fine, as long as you wrote the original, or were given permission to translate and send it. Any type of poem is fine, and you can submit as many as you want.

Include "Patriotism Contest" or "Poetry Contest" in the subject line

Please send your poem(s) in an attachment (doc., docx., or txt.), one for each poem

Your name or pen name should be in the body of the email, but NOT the attachments

You may include a short bio and links to your website, Facebook page, Twitter account, etc.

This website and its newsletter is teen-friendly, so please, nothing graphic

All rights remain with the poet, we only ask to place the winning and other exemplary submissions on our blog and in our newsletter

If you do not want your poem to appear in our blog or newsletter (many publishers do not accept previously published work) please say so, and we will not

Previous and simultaneous submissions welcome

The contest will end on July 20th and the winners will be announced on August 1st.

Send all submissions and questions to windowtothesoulcontests[at]

We have another contest right now. It's an art contest with the theme "mothers". If or more information, click here.