Changemaker 2.0 Series: CF Winn & SUKI

 

suki bookcover by davinci

I have recently read a book so beautifully written, so emotionally impactful that I sought out the author, Christine Winn, to discover more about her.

 

There was a lot to discover. Thus, I’ve included our interview and notes on SUKI in the Changemaker Series for reasons that will become quite clear.

For those of you who follow marketing tips on this website, you will want to discover the path that Chris has plowed through the web.

First, an introduction to SUKI

If you just glance at the five-star reviews on Amazon about SUKI, you will find reviews entitled:

“How is this book not on the NYTimes Best Seller list?”

“I only gave this book 5 stars because 10 stars was not an option”

“Like nothing I’ve ever read before”

The short introduction to the novella:

“Life offers one guarantee…death.

SUKI tells the story of Savannah, an independent go getter, who allows fear to keep her from being completely happy, and Dwayne, a softhearted ex-Marine with a talent for creativity. The couple is destined to find each other and carry out a preordained agreement made long before their human feet enter this Earthly plane. Their connection is tangible and their lives easy – until they are presented with one challenge that shakes them to their cores.

The couple’s subsequent struggle to make sense of their imploding world comes to a head in the epilogue, where a shocking secret is revealed in an overdue letter.

We all assume we know what love is, but think again. It comes in many shapes and sizes. If you knew ahead of time that you’d never see ”happily ever after“, would you choose to live at all for the sake of love?

CF Winn flexes her story telling muscle and shows us why she is an award winning author. SUKI will grab your heart and make you think about your place…and your purpose in this world.”

That in itself is intriguing, isn’t it? I concur mightily with the five-star reviews and all quotes above.

The writing in SUKI is so sublime, supremely smooth that you fall in love with the love story and never want it to end. But for those, including myself, who don’t read romance novels, this is far from the genre.

It is a love story though. Love has many faces. In reading SUKI, as I was already in love with the characters, there was a point, a very real moment in time when the story become something much more than what it started out to be

Here is a short bio on Chris as an introduction:

CF Winn is a freelance writer of articles and short stories when she’s not training others in the art of Market Research. Her day job has led her to places that few of us know exist. Worlds where eccentricity is the norm and even sometimes embraced. Her off kilter muses have graciously guided her into the awards arena, most notably, Wordsmitten Storycove for her flash fiction story, “SUNDAY DRIVES DONE MOJO STYLE”.

“THE COFFEE BREAK SERIES”, CF Winn’s collection of short stories, are wildly popular and available on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Some of the titles include “KAFE CASTRO”, “MOORE THAN MEETS THE EYE”, “PGB”, and “DEJA DREW”.

In between promoting the hugely successful “SUKI”, she is editing several books by new authors and working on “TIME SLIP”. She lives in New York with her three brilliant children.

In true Thomas Pynchon fashion, I have become the Interviewer.

Author CF Winn

Interviewer: Thanks for coming over to the Quill.SUKI is so beautifully written; you bring us into the great love affair Savannah and Dwayne like no other author I’ve read. I’d like to know what your writing process look like?

Chris: I don‘t have much of a process. I usually write the bare bones of the story first – just to get it out of me because once I have an idea I can barely contain myself. Then I let it sit and I don’t look at it for a few days, but I do think about it. While I drive to and from my day jobs or my kids’ activities, I fill in the scenes in my mind. I take notes and when I allow myself to go back, I reread, editing and adding details from my notes. After repeating the pattern of putting the work aside before coming back to add and edit many times, the story will tell me that it’s complete. I have a background in professional acting, so I consider it the most natural thing to put myself in the place of the characters, acting it out in order to create a story that readers can feel a part of.

Interviewer: I’m sure all of your fans of THE COFFEE BREAK SERIES will be happy to know that there are more to come in the series.I know many authors do not stay within a certain genre for their writing, but I don’t think that I’ve met an author with such a breadth of emotional content and expression as you.
Chris: The Coffee Break Series stories are embellished retellings of real life events that have either happened to me or people that I know. I used to work for the NYTimes, putting together the pieces of the Sunday papers that would be delivered to different businesses. For ten to twelve hours on Saturdays I’d have nothing to do but talk to the person across from me at my table and make papers. I developed a friendship with a girl named Christine, and every week she’d ask to hear a new story. Finally, she said, “You really should write these down and sell them. People would love to read these.” I started by submitting SUNDAY DRIVES DONE MOJOSTYLE to a flash fiction contest and won. That was all that I needed to hear. I immediately started creating The Coffee Break Series. They are quirky short shorts, meant to be read on a coffee or lunch break or while waiting to be seen by the doctor – any time that one might find themselves with enough time to get bored, but not enough time to read a whole book. Each story references the ones that came before it to illustrate the fact that we are all connected, and I offer a bit more of the previous ones, just to satisfy the urge most of us have to know what happened after the story ended. Right now, four are available in e-book form only, but a fifth – HAUNTED HOUSE or HAUNTED LIFE? – will be released in August. I plan on writing ten to twelve of them before compiling and offering a print book.

Interviewer: The narrator is a very intriguing choice, and one I haven’t read before. Can you think of another author that is similar to your writing style or use of narrators?

Chris: No, can you?

Interviewer: Not at all! I think that you, and by extension, SUKI have created a brand new genre! Since you have a wide range of tastes as an author, can you give us an idea of your favorite book, author or genre that you enjoy reading yourself?

Chris: That’s a tough question because I will read almost anything….except maybe Westerns. Sorry Zane Grey. I love anything quirky, thought provoking and smart – Titles and authors that stand out for me: Augusten Burroughs, Tama Janowitz (especially THE MALE CROSS DRESSER SUPPORT GROUP), Dan Brown and JK Rowling are CRAZY smart, and 13 REASONS WHY by Jay Asher

Interviewer: You write so beautifully. You bring us into the story and when we have already fallen in love, the heart breaks ever so deeply. I am curious as to how you mold such perfect left brain and right brain skills at such a high level. I’m also aware that you do editing for other authors. Where do you think your breadth of expression and the exactitude of an editor come from? Would it stem from your days as an actress or was it further back than your acting days?

Chris: Ha ha…I think my editing comes in part from an uncontrollable urge to have all forms of writing flow smoothly. In some circles they call that OCD. LOL I really don’t know where it comes from. I just like to create art – or in the case of editing, co-create. It does NOT come from acting…if you ever saw the music video I did in the nineties – hot pants and all – you’d be as sure as I am about that. Before that I was just a crazy college kid hoping to get a degree that would eventually pay the bills. Editor is something I morphed into as a result of beta reading for my fellow indies. I went above and beyond because I wanted them to succeed and eventually gained a rep as a know-it-all, but a lovable and talented know-it-all. My first paid gig (complete with credits!), TRAILER TRASH WITH A GIRL’S NAME by Stacey Roberts is tickling funny bones everywhere.

I want to thank Chris for coming by and talking to us. She is an amazing human being and SUKI is something that I feel is a life-lesson for all of us, young or old, male or female. You can get it now on Amazon. Just search SUKI in Kindle.

 

An end note: As all hybrid or Indie authors wonder about quitting the day-job and writing full-time, I asked that of Chris and her answer is put together perfectly on her blog Simply Stick.

Writers and Their Notes

 

handwritten versus electric note taking and memory recallAs writers, we need to come up with a name for all of those little notes we collect with dialogue or story ideas. A writer never throws those slips away, for within their scribbled lines, there a story awaits.

Do you have a cache of notes you refer to for ideas?

 

I had been considering this as I decided on a calendar for the half-year. I had plenty of calendars on the computer, but the act of writing down a note or meeting in my calendar somehow solidified it in my brain.

Then I chanced upon a study write-up in Psyblog. (Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2014) The study was conducted after one of the researchers, Pam Mueller at Princeton U., noticed that she had better recall of notes when written by hand. She and her co-researcher, Daniel Oppenheimer, discuss the beginnings of their research:

The study’s co-author, Daniel Oppenheimer, had a similar experience, which Mueller explains:

“Danny said that he’d had a related experience in a faculty meeting: He was taking notes on his computer, and looked up and realized that he had no idea what the person was actually talking about.”

This research was also written up in Scientific American, i09, The Atlantic & Psychological Science.

Another great study on the act of physically writing things down can be found at Lifehack.

I have looked up a great many studies on this topic, but the one that hones in on the process is conducted by Timothy Smoker, Carrie E. Murphy, & Alison K. Rockwell and ties the act of psychomotor skills while taking notes by hand and the subsequent recall rate:

This is an investigation into the possible links between psychomotor action, in the activities of handwriting, and memory.

The correlations are solidly behind the psychomotor factor in memory recall. What I wonder is if this will be an evolutionary sort of thing when you consider all of the students today take notes via their laptops or smartphones/iPads. How will this now and in the future affect their learning curves?

(Interestingly, I found the link from Lifehack re: the Norway study quite haphazardly after I had written this post. I point this out mainly to flog myself for not continuing my graduate studies in research. Also, this shows just how important this subject is, for everyone in today’s “go paperless” digital society.)

Further, I wonder how our brains work in the planning stages of something as complex as a novel. I among many have noted that outlining and many times the writing itself, during the creativity stage, is better done by hand rather than computer.

Have you noticed that as well? What are your note taking hacks? Leave them in the comments!

Oh, and I got my calendar. It’s perfect and cheap and has plenty of note-taking space. ;p

 

 

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writing help

The Write Tip, Your Quick Tip of the Day for Writing

Your characters are waiting for you! Follow these tips for mindful writing.

Yep, you know it too, don’t you? “If I had a dollar for every time I got distracted… I wish I had a puppy”

 Do you find that there is more to do each minute of the day than there are minutes in that day? Do you feel that you could stay up all night and not feel caught up, ever?

You are not alone.

 

There is more pressure today than there ever has been to accomplish everything on your to-do list, immediately.

What’s more, the barrage of information has increased exponentially since the internet’s growth. How can you relax and write creatively with these pressures?

It helps me to listen to or read a beloved author’s discussion of his writing practice. Additionally, readiwriting helpng quotes from authors is helpful. Paris Review is always a muse whisperer. This site jumps deep into the writing process as you will see here with an interview with Don DeLillo.

While I’m not a famous writer (yet), I have jotted down some tips for you that I find conducive to getting my wip whipped into shape. Hopefully, you find them helpful as well.

 I added something I had heard Michael Chabon mention while he discussed his writing practice (see the Great Reads Page in the menu). Instead of listing the music in your iPod under style and artist, make a genius list for yourself. Pick the songs that you personally find joyful, contemplative, angst-ridden or any other emotion that you need to provoke for your writing. Use these lists as needed for the soundtrack of your writing. I am doing the same and have started an Excel sheet coupling the music lists with the style or “vibe” of writing, story or article I need to write.

While writing; forget punctuation; it brings the right (logical) brain into a left brain more creative work; go back when you are not “in the zone” and get picky about punctuation and grammar.

You will be surprised at how mindful your mindless tasks can be.

If you are not finding time to write due to pressing tasks, take 30 seconds out to look at a picture that you’ve picked to draw out your protagonist. Still working on some mindless task? Make it mindful by looking over your outline.

Back at your writing desk, start with a page that you felt good about and flip  through to a spot that needs work. Do this in stages of concentration blocks; two minutes, on and off. Don’t write on the breaks for at least twenty minutes. Then, allow yourself the option of continuing to write. It’s just an option. Purely up to you.

What this does is eliminate the guilt that every writer faces when they are not writing as much as they hoped for. Instead of worrying as you run through your day, take that mindless task and use it for thoughtful consideration, concentrating on areas of your manuscript that need some polish. Work on the secondary characters or plot points that need some tweaking. Doing this as you fold the laundry, as an example, will eradicate the guilt and leave you wanting to run to your desk and finish what you had started.

Remember to have your smart phone or moleskin handy when you do this.

Important: Run through this article on writer’s block. These tips can help you get further and deeper into “the zone” and you will be creating of sentence structure and story structure an easy task for your mind and hands.

There is far more coming. I am testing a number of things for the security tutorial that I am preparing for you. I am also working with some incredible people on several intensives in which you will benefit. But in the meantime, I would love to hear of tips that you use to increase writing time during your busy day. Leave your comments in the box below.

 
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My writing community

Lifechanging Writing Course & Community Closes Enrollment This Wednesday Night

My writing communityFollow my blog with Bloglovin

How would you like to work in a supportive environment to write and critique your work? What are you seeing in costs for the registration for writing conventions these day? Yeah. Then there’s the ticket and the gas. The kids and the pets. Shopping for needed supplies for just you and anyone left at home let alone for your computer, notebooks and the list goes on.

You’ve heard of Story Cartel, right? Joe Bunting, one of the best teachers and the man behind The Write Practice has developed this coure. Here are a few things he says about the process:

 

Most writers think writing is a solo business, that you’re supposed to do it all on your own. Except this “doing it all on your own” thing is a good way to make sure no one reads your writing.

 

 

When you look at the best writers, the Brontes, the Hemingways, the Tolkiens, they never did it alone. Their success, even their creativity, didn’t come solely from themselves. It took other people, a community, a Cartel.

If you are wondering why he named the course The Story Cartel, he describes it this way:

A “Cartel” is an agreement amongst competitors. You see, too many writers treat their fellow writers as competitors, when what they should be doing is treating them likeallies. By helping each other, you and I can multiply our efforts.

 

The course is usually run per quarter and was put off until now for Joe Bunting and his family to stay in Paris for a few months. Imagine the stories you’ll hear! It’s a writers’ mecca and sure stole my heart when I was there.

You have read my discussions on all of the opportunities to get the word out about your work, to market it and format it or stay up on the latest and greatest. This community helps you from start to finish. You grow together and you promote each other. This is different than the author clubs that I have discussed and continue to discuss as the bonds from the beginning of class last a lifetime. This takes the fear, a big problem with all writers, out of putting your work out there are wondering how to submit or format. Much like Bookbub, after you publish your book, it is is put into categories and sent out to subscribers for a fair and honest review, the real life example of critiquing in writer circles. The website for books is on the top fringes of new, responsive, and beautiful design to showcase your book and your blurb to all. The reviews are key for any author. It is the lifeblood and this is how it gets your author profile noticed, something I’ve repeatedly lectured on like the Paper Chase (though I don’t like comparing myself to the character. ;p)

Here is the link again: Story Cartel. It’s a not-to-be-missed opportunity. Grow your writing family tree now!

I Lost 500 Subscribers & How to Make Sure it Doesn’t Happen to You

thepointofthequill security issues

 

The Quill was hacked. Did you notice Russian lettering in many of my social streams? 

 “Tom, don’t let anybody kid you. It’s all personal, every bit of business.”

 The Godfather

All things come down to The Godfather, right?

I’d been working on a writing project when my emails started flying in and Google+ and Facebook notices started piling up.

I opened the first email, “Lee, I think your site was hacked.”

The second, “There is something going on with your site.” This coming from all sectors of my social life.

So I checked it out.

I saw about 350 new administrators, including me! I deleted all of them and the posts they had created, changed my password and notified my hosting site and spent the rest of the night cleaning up my social streams

 Murphy’s Law is as true as the Law of Gravity

My computer was in the shop (of course) so I spent the rest of the evening deleting posts off of my social feeds and then crawling into the back pages of my computer and deleting the (new) subscribers that had signed up in a concentrated attack (throwing their grammar laden posts out with them. I of course changed my password in the process.

I also started the calls for help. There was no way that I could get rid of these hackers without help. No one around me was proficient in coding, social media, et al. The fix given to me by my server didn’t work. Their reason for the invasion was off as well.

The first thing I thought about was you. Yeah, you’re supposed to say that all of the time and it sounds trite, but I’m serious. I was lost without my computer. I was concerned that your emails were getting swamped with spam. I started calling subscribers that I knew and asked what was going on with their email. I called hosting but I was not getting to the problem because I had no computer. Murphy’s Law struck again. The host company thought they had fixed the problem but it hadn’t. And now I could no longer log into my own page.

Of course, I knew this wasn’t personal. They weren’t targeting me; they were taking advantage of a vulnerability (which occurred as I switched from one theme to a live version of another).

But, like the Godfather, everything feels personal whether it’s business or not.

Make sure your sign-in name is not “admin”

This is the first thing hackers look for when trying to break into your site. Then they will try and look on your social feeds to find something familiar only to you that you might use, like your first name or the name of your pet. Be aware of this. You cannot change the name after it is in the server. But you can make your password a triple barriar.You can also install a captcha plugin so it is even harder to get inside by a coded bot or mischeovous hands.

* For the record, I changed the “admin” at the sign in page to another passcode, which is what all of the security pages encourage you to do from the beginning. If you haven’t done this, please do it asap.

What to look for in wordpress plugins

Please be aware that this could happen to you as well First, change your password.

Especially after Heartbleed. if Google got hacked, someone could hack your site as well.Make sure that all of your plugins and themes are up-to-date with a code fix after Heartbleed. If you are looking to download plugins, make sure that they are also updated after Heartbleed. To check this, read the “detail” info on a plugin before downloading and look to the right in the box to see when the last update was, making sure it was after the latest problem and that it will fit with the theme you are using. Also, look to see ratings and how many websites have downloaded this plugin. I always go for the five star plugins.  Make sure you have Wordfence or one of the paid security plugins. You, as the webmaster, must do your due-diligence.  My window was when I switched and went live with another theme and then switched back again late at night because my old theme offered more so I had to reset everything on my site. Again. But somewhere in the world, there was someone looking for a free ride on the blogosphere and found it, and me, at the moment when I was most vulnerable. 

For security plugin, I use Wordfence Security. It lets me know if there is an update needed ony site or if there was an attack of 10 or less (the number I set it at) to my site. It keeps an eye out for me. It’s brilliant.

 

Don’t let this happen to you.

To help you make sure you are covering your…bases, this is a top-notch article on safety:

 http://www.creativebloq.com/web-design/website-security-tips-protect-your-site-7122853

For general security advice, check out Chris Wiegman’s site for great references.

That one known hacker from Korea will not be able to visit my site after installing this plugin basically banishing him from my site: WP Ban

Troy Hunt: Lessons in website security anti-patterns by Tesco use this plus all other 27th reminders

 

Back-up your site

You know this already but have you done it? If not, just go to the “add plugins” section on the back end of your site and hit Updraft Backups. It’s a free plugin but also a good one. If you feel more comfortable with a paid one just do a search for your budget and plug it in. Your site will be backed up by the time you wake up tomorrow.

 

Years and years of work to get great connections on Google Plus and to build up to Google Authorship for this?

Soon after, I had typed in my “admin” address for the back side of my site. In Chrome the url bar is also “search in Google”.

Whatever I typed in, obviously tied to “admin” brought up my profile and number of people in my circles and a page with all of the information on getting into the backdoor of sites. It was extremely jarring, my face–which is your “brand” as an author–right next to the post that discussed how to use loopholes, for any site and for servers. (My server has since closed that loophholes.)  It brought back all of the heartrending minutes upon hours stretched into days where I was deleting one “post” after another, thinking of all of the years that I worked on learning about google authorship and then putting codes in the header (without breaking the site) and the years of research and writing …it just drained my spirit.

At least my site ended up #1 on the first page of Google for hacking into my site. I would expect nothing less. 

My site had become not only was an outpost for paid postings but also a forum for the hackers and a way for them to touch base. Even after I had raided them and killed them dead they would send me messages from the contact page; spamming my site and crunching Askimet, my email host, and my patience.

Each time I logged into my site to update plugins there were hundreds of comments, apparently since they were only able to get at the site from the front of the page, they would still leave comments with many, many links so if there were any hackers living and they saw the comment, they would be able to regroup, if all went well, at the newly hacked site.

But you and I are going to make sure our business doesn’t get too personal from hackers that are deficient in morality.

The next post I have written for you is a tutorial on what you need to so behind the scenes to make sure your site stays away from the lesser-ones and I will give you a great many tools for you to help you be an even better webmaster.

 

I do want to thank you for all who hung in there, aware in generalities of what was going on and sitting patiently through it all. I very much want to hear from you. Were you overloaded with spam or worse, had control of your site taken away from you? Please let us know how you handled the situation.  And thanks again for being my loyal subscribers. After this next post, I have the Monster Book Marketing Post coming soon after the Webmaster post!