Sunday, August 21, 2016

Rave Review for WYBWM

Write Your Book With Me... One of the most complete volumes on writing I have ever read!
Sadly, the world is full of skeptics. You may be thinking, Douglas Cooper, never heard of him. Why should I buy his book, after all, what makes him an expert? There are several books about writing, so what sets his book apart from all the others out there? Dr. Cooper's credentials are impressive. With a Ph.D. in Engineering from Harvard, along with several years on the faculty of the Harvard School of Public Health, there's a good chance that he is dedicated and has his ducks in a row.
Doug Cooper has used the knowledge he's gained to pen two wonderful pieces of nonfiction, a memoir he wrote a few years ago entitled Ting and I and more recently this book to help others write well, Write Your Book with Me. Over the last few years he has helped several people write fiction and nonfiction and has earned the right to bill himself as Editor and Book Doctor. I can attest to the difficult job at hand. Helping others realize their dreams for those that desire to write is both rewarding and taxing.
So... to got back to one of your questions, (What sets this book apart from the rest?), I just finished reading Write Your Book With Me. Honestly, while I think the book might be useful to any writing novice, the book is probably geared to those preferring to write a piece of nonfiction. Doug is not trying to recreate the wheel here, nor does he profess that this is the only book you'll ever need to write well. Doug has written a candid, well-researched, very thorough volume on writing. He has read several current books about how to write well and attempted to separate the wheat from the chaff. He shares the writing style that worked best for him with his readers, citing specific things he went through while writing Ting and I.
In my opinion, Doug has left no stone unturned penning categories on the importance of proper planning, preparing, publishing, promoting, and the payoff with important subcategories within each segment. He's even included a segment on reflections and an all-important resources section. I have read several books on writing and this one, Write Your Book With Me, more than exceeds most of them when it comes to hitting on all the important things it takes to write well. On a side note, Doug's editing acumen is to be commended. I have edited fiction for over seven years and spoke to and interacted with many writers. During that time, I've only met one writer that edited his own work superbly. I feel confident adding Doug's name to my slowly growing list of professional editors that are willing to go the extra mile to help their clients by doing a flawless job. Purchase a copy of Write Your Book With Me today; you'll be glad you did.
Dennis DeRose
Moneysaver Editing
We're not done until you're happy!
https://www.linkedin.com/pub/dennis-de-rose/17/629/152

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Review  for Amazon.com.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Writing Fiction, from WYBWM



FICTION GENRES: AUDIENCE KNOWS WHAT IT LIKES

You wouldn’t go to a movie without knowing the title of the film. If uncertain what the title implies, you would ask what kind of movie it is. Romantic? Comedy? Mystery? Drama? War? Horror? If you are not a fan of the movie’s genre, you’ll likely skip it.

Similarly, readers know what they want, and it is hard to get them to go far afield. Let’s see: romantic, comedy, mystery, drama, war, horror…so far similar to the movies, but also paranormal, fantasy, historical romance, young adult, etc. Go to amazon.com and start to browse, and you will be presented with a smorgasbord of choices. [Metaphor, no food there actually.]

Evans (2015) classified novels’ genres as follows: mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, Westerns, horror, thrillers, romance, historical. Another classification he offers depends on word count: adult commercial (80 to 90 thousand), science fiction and fantasy (100 to 115 thousand), middle grade (20 to 55 thousand), young adult (55 to 80 thousand), Westerns (50 to 80 thousand), memoirs (80 to 90 thousand)…though memoirs are not supposed to be fiction.

FICTION: TRUTH THROUGH FABLE – THEMES, SETTINGS, CHARACTERS, ACTION, DIALOGUE, DESCRIPTION, ARCS, FORESHADOWING, CLIFF-HANGERS, RESOLUTION

Note the Foreword to this book, which is Stephen King’s Foreword to his own On Writing, Second Edition. He’s not sure anyone can tell another how to write outstanding fiction. Not having his skill and expertise, I will venture where he might not.

If you go to amazon.com and plunk down $11 for the Kindle ebook version or $14 for the paperback, you will likely profit from Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy (2009), which, when I looked, had received a couple of hundred very favorable reviews at Amazon. Naturally, the smart “Dummies” to whom the title refers are the would-be-author purchasers of this easy-to-follow handbook, rather than the audience for whom the writers of fiction will be writing…at least I hope so.

As I do not have the Dummies book myself, I’ll lead off with advice from another source, which I do have. [A variation on the theme of “love the one you’re with.”]

Start with some good advice from novelist J.P. Kurzitza (2011) in a booklet So You Want to Write a Novel: “the story is everything. If you don’t already have that, then this booklet won’t be of much use to you.” Without an engaging story, great language won’t save you: “it’s like spraying a skunk with perfume.” [Notice that he avoids the over-used “lipstick on a pig” simile.] Later on in the booklet he offers three story templates to guide you. We’ll look at two.


You’ve got to develop characters, plotlines, chapters, scenes for each chapter. 

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This excerpt from my magnum opus, Write Your Book with Me, is followed by a section giving details on Kurzitsa's formulas for three fiction novel types. You are invited to visit my writing-coaching-editing site.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Healing from Life's Traumas


Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D.
Whether caused by coups or wars, floods or tornados, famines or disease, fires or vehicular accidents, or the more common, but still hurtful, separations, divorces, deaths in the family—traumas cause physical and psychological injuries that need healing. There is encouraging evidence that we often become stronger after such healing is completed. That is fortunate, because a world-wide study has shown that more than 40% of men and of women have suffered trauma at the hands of other people.
You’ve probably heard the same adages I have: “the blow that doesn’t crush you strengthens you,” “every knock is a boost,” “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” You may have thought you could do without quite so much good fortune, those helpful blows and boosting knocks, and that you’d get going…elsewhere.
The School of Hard Knocks
Many successful people have attributed success to lessons learned in the school of hard knocks, temporary blows that provided permanent benefits. Harlan Sanders worked from age 40 to age 62 before his Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise operation became an overnight success. World-class athletes and their weekend work-out cousins confirm: no pain, no gain. Some companies emerge stronger from bankruptcy, though others collapse. Why?

Healing Stronger
When we break a bone, the break heals to become stronger than the surrounding bone. Skin scar tissue is often tougher than the original. Even personal slights that produce hurt feelings can toughen us up. Adria Goldman Gross, my friend and co-author [Solved! Curing Your Medical Insurance Problems] came back from a life-threatening brain operation for her debilitating and embarassing epileptic fits to establish a successful patients’ advocacy practice.

Hormesis
Toxicologists say “the dose makes the poison.” Small doses of caffeine are invigorating; large doses can kill. Responses to alcohol depend on the dose and on one’s constitution. You can over-dose on vitamins. The technical term is “hormesis,” found widely, including exposure to radiation. Even sunlight, beneficial in moderation, can be overdone. Individual sensitivities vary.
What about life’s other major, non-fatal stresses?
Recent research demonstrates post-traumatic toughening, the beneficent sibling of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Here, again, the nature and degree of injury (and the constitution of the injured) greatly influence the outcome.
Supersurvivors
In researching this topic, I found Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link between Suffering and Success, by David B. Feldman, Ph.D., and Lee Daniel Kravetz. Their message: often we have choice between merely surviving and “supersurviving,” gaining from the traumatic experience.
Their chapters titles captivate: To Survive or to Supersurvive, The Paradox of Positive Thinking, The Truth of Illusion, The World We Thought We Knew, The Company We Keep, Awakened by Death, Faith’s Mixed Blessing, Forgiving the Unforgivable, The Right Choice. Let me give you a taste.
Feldman and Kravetz begin: “On the spectrum of trauma survivorship, everyone falls somewhere between hiding under a rock and becoming a rock star.” From survive to thrive. A majority of survivors feel strengthened by the experience, though not necessarily glad that it happened.
Positive thinking? It’s more pleasant than negative thinking, but the data on its influence on survival are mixed: be sure to take prudent preventive actions like mammograms and don’t optimistically search for unicorns.
Truth of illusion? Surveys show we think we are safer than we really are, perhaps leading to taking ill-advised risks, like texting while driving. Yet, studies have shown that CEOs generally are risk-takers, not because they underestimate the hazards, but because they are confident they can handle them, they have “grounded hope.” Hope stimulates action, fights depression, and serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Social support? It’s been shown to extend the lives of those in hospices after major disasters. Such help is a boon, even if temporary. Survivors do better emotionally when they expect continued support. A parent, spouse, sibling, or friend who stands by the survivor can make a world of difference.
Faith? Catholic nuns and Seventh Day Adventists have greater longevity than average. Faith sometimes consoles and inspires, but can also perplex or distract, when you break its rules.
Forgiveness? While physically and psychologically beneficial, forgiveness is hard and cannot fairly be expected of any victim. Still, as South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu noted, an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.

Limits---What if a Meteor Strikes You?
Just as the dose makes the poison, the degree of trauma can be too great to expect you to recover from. This varies from trauma to trauma and person to person. Furthermore, not every cloud has a silver lining. Yet, we can often salvage something even while regretting having been injured. We do the best we can.

Recovering from My Own Saddest Time
When I learned my first wife was having an affair, I decided to divorce her. I spent the next year dejectedly merely putting one foot in front of the other. I felt crushed. Our happy decade together seemed a lie. The second year was a bit better, dating, finally getting engaged but then disengaged. Not quite a happy time. I did, however, hope that perhaps divorce could work out for the best…if I could someday marry my college sweetheart, Tina Su. The rest is joyful history, as told in our Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion.

What You May Gain from Pain
Whether a blow crushes you or strengthens you will depend on the challenge, on your constitution, on your situation, and on your responses. Shakespeare’s Hamlet somewhat over-stated it, but there is truth in his “there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Often, we conquer trauma by how we choose to view it and what we learn from it.

Have you overcome a serious harm by how you chose to view it? What do you think are the limits to this? To what extent is it fair to expect this of others?
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A former Harvard environmental science professor, Dr. Douglas Winslow Cooper is an author who helps others write and publish their books, via his coaching enterprise http://WriteYourBookWithMe.com. His life's central theme has been his half-century romance (http://TingandI.com) with Tina Su Cooper, his wife, now quadriplegic due to multiple sclerosis and receiving 24/7 nursing care at home, care discussed at their website here.

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Originally published in a somewhat different form in:  http://sixtyandme.com/healing-and-reinventing-your-life-after-an-emotional-trauma/

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Cunning Kiwi Crafts Novel Novel, DEAD LEMONS



REVIEW OF DEAD LEMONS, BY FINN BELL

This extraordinary novel opens with its protagonist, who has the same name as the author, hanging upside down over a rocky jetty near the very southernmost tip of New Zealand, suspended by his paralyzed legs wedged between the rocks and his wheelchair. Right below him is the man, Darrell Zoyl, of the infamous Zoyl family, who has just tried to kill him.
How Finn Bell got there and what happens next propel the plot, but the book is much more than just a mystery, it includes some profound reflections on life and death, suicide and survival, love and loathing, sanity and madness, happiness and depression.
The breadth of topics in Bell’s fascinating work reminded me of the tale told by Lewis Carroll’s Walrus, who captivates an Oyster audience:
“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things:
Of shoes---and ships---and sealing wax---
Of cabbages and kings---
Of why the sea is boiling hot---
And whether pigs have wings.”
Those who take the pleasure of reading both Finn Bell’s gripping novel and this poem, “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” will see a sinister parallel as well.
The author uses flashbacks, not my favorite style, to have his hero tell how he has reached this predicament, while putting many of the chapters in the present. Yet, it was effective: I could hardly put the book down once I started reading it.
The reader learns much about life in New Zealand, along with the psychology of the paraplegic male, and the offbeat but effective method of one psychologist-counselor in dealing with the nearly suicidal.
The author’s notes at the book’s end provide some additional value, about bees and their ability to sense our emotions, the African country of Benin with its unusually high incidence of twins (a pair of whom play an important role in the book), whaling and the rendering of whale blubber, cannibalism in pigs, and the various phases of New Zealand’s settling and economic development. Within the story we learn of Murder Ball, a rugby variant for men in wheelchairs.   
There is love…love lost and love found, love among friends, love between man and woman and among extended family members.
And there is terror, terror generated by the Zoyl family with their wicked secrets and their cunning tactics to keep atrocities hidden for decades.
The writing flows. The editing is excellent.
If you like mystery, with psychological depth, mixed with arcane information about exotic places and people, spiced with some terror and intermittent action, you’ll love this book, as I did.
I’ve already bought another Zinn Bell novel, Pancake Money, also a mystery set in New Zealand. I can’t wait to read it.


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My writing-editing-coaching site is http://WriteYourBookwithMe.com.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Writing about Wealth, from WYBWM



WEALTH: EARNING, SAVING, INVESTING

Do you want to write about money? Better have a lot of it. For credibility. Who heeds a pauper?  Plus, to cover any lawsuit that might ensue from someone who followed your advice and failed. I’ll say it here and perhaps elsewhere in this book: take all financial advice, even or especially mine, with skepticism. Do your own “due diligence.” “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Clear? Now we can continue.

Money! It makes “the world go around.” Most people want to make more of it and waste less. For this genre, academic credentials seem almost irrelevant.

Having made a bundle brings credibility. Buffett, Gates, Trump, and their ilk are well suited to write, but often too busy getting richer. And yet, since “past performance is no guarantee of future results,” as the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) makes the investment community remind us all, we are to ignore (as if we could) that so-and-so got rich quick doing whatever it is he claims was key.

I can’t imagine scientists saying “past performance is no guarantee of future results,” or we’d have no science, no engineering, no equations, just hunches and guesses and a lot of bridges of doubtful reliability.

Saving is boring, but important. Putting a bit away regularly for a rainy day will enable you to buy an umbrella when you need one. If inflation kicks up, you may not be able to buy much more. My favorite book in the wealth genre is The Millionaire Next Door (Stanley, 2010), which shows how the old virtue of frugality retains its basic power: “Waste not, want not. Use it up, wear it out. Make do, or do without.”  Taleb’s (2012) Antifragile would have you put a small but significant fraction into high-risk, high-payoff investments and the rest in the safest, stodgiest investments you can find. You can double your money by playing red at roulette, once, if successful. Hold back a little for bus fare for getting home.

Investing is like saving, only riskier. So many schemes, so little time, so little disposable income to put at risk. If you have a great idea, use it to make money rather than to sell a book. Typically, once your great idea gets out, others will get into the act, and prices will be bid up or down to erase the temporary advantage. If you are a Nobel laureate in economic theory, then you might establish a firm like Long-Term Capital Management, rely on exotic equations and naïve assumptions about probability distributions, and go belly-up impressively.


Writing a book about money should be approached with caution, because although “past performance is no guarantee of future results,” you just might become rich and famous, which the tabloids demonstrate is no way to find happiness.

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From my magnum opus, Write Your Book with Me, written for neophytes and published by Outskirts Press, available from OP and online booksellers like amazon.com and bn.com in paperback and ebook formats.

The book is intended to inform, entertain, and get some of you to sign me up as your book writing and publishing coach, so see http://WriteYourBookWithMe.com. As Stephen King might have said, "Douglas Who?"

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

10 Keys to Survival





10 Keys to Surviving, Even Thriving

Separations, divorces, deaths in the family, economic hardships, illnesses…many of our Sixty and Me community have made it through difficult times and are survivors. We have learned from our experiences and from the experiences of others.

Alone

One of my favorite TV shows is the History Channel’s Alone, a reality show that starts by putting ten survival experts each about five miles apart on the shores of Vancouver Island, basically an uninhabited jungle, and awards half a million dollars to the contestant who quits last. They are given some standard survival gear and can choose a limited amount of additional stuff, but they will have to weather the rainy Vancouver climate and try to find food from the ocean and in the jungle, while coping with complete solitude. The first year had five of the ten contestants quit within the first week, and the winner won by enduring for 56 days. The second year’s crew did much better, the new group having learned from watching films of the first bunch.

Relatedly and recently, an exciting and dramatic adventure novel, Paul Draker’s New Year Island, examines the question of what qualities are crucial to successful survival under very unusual conditions. It made me wonder to what degree these qualities might be important in our everyday lives.

Draker’s book presents an Alone-like competition on an isolated island. Early on, novelist Draker has a lecturer tell the competitors what characteristics psychologists have found to be common among the exceptional one-tenth who survive extraordinary, life-or-death situations:


Survivor Characteristics:

1. WILL TO LIVE - survival is as much mental as physical.
2. RESILIENCE - flexible in the face of adversity.
3. SELF-CONFIDENCE - feel no need to prove anything to anybody.
4. PLAYFUL CURIOSITY - experiment, break rules, test limits.
5. ALERTNESS - appraise changing situations rapidly, read people well.
6. UNPREDICTABILITY - combine opposing characteristics for flexibility and surprise.
7. EMPATHY - care about others without being paralyzed by concern.
8. INTUITION - trust their feelings, their instincts.
9. SYNERGY - combine dissimilar elements, making hard problems easier.
10. SPIRITUALITY - have faith and believe they will survive.

How can these attributes contribute to our own lives, even outside of crises?

Will to Live

This is the basic version of what the French call joie de vivre, an exuberant, energetic appreciation of the gift of life, a gift that comes with an expiration date unknown to us. We enjoy life fully, while we can.

Resilience

Resilience helps us cope with ups and downs, twists and turns…at work, at play, at home. We don’t sweat the small stuff, don’t fuss about minor matters. We accept that life is change. Defeat is temporary.

Self-confidence

Self-confidence fuels our moving forward. It attracts others to us, as long as we do not become smug or over-confident. We succeed partly because we believe we can.

Playfulness

Playfulness adds to our enjoyment of life and to the enjoyment felt by those with whom we interact, helping us to attract allies. Competition in business or school or even in love can be seen as a game, and we can take an attitude of “win some, lose some” to temper our elation at winning or our dejection at losing. Playfulness can stimulate creativity.

Alertness

We must be alert, aware of our environment and the people around us. Opportunity may knock, but we must be listening to hear it. Prudent early action can prevent major problems.

Unpredictability

“Unpredictability”? This surprised me. What author Draker meant was that we should not bring the same approach to all our situations. We need to be able to be rational or emotional, sweet or acerbic, soft or firm, even gentle or rough, as appropriate. Varying your style can reveal new options to you. If your only approach is to be a hammer, you will misjudge problems to be nails.

Empathy

Empathy is not just nice, it is a component of success. Our consideration for the feelings of others will often be returned through their consideration for us. Teamwork is fostered, allies gained and maintained. Shared success is more likely and more valuable than individualistic failure.

Intuition

We know more than we can prove. Can you trust him? Is she a true friend? Going with your gut has merit, although one needs to apply it cautiously. The heart has reasons the mind cannot grasp. However, if we get solid information that contradicts our gut feelings, it is time to reconsider.

Synergy

Synergy occurs when the combination of two things produces results much greater than the simple sum of the two would predict. When two people do more than just fill gaps, they have synergy. When each improves and reinforces the other, this pairing out-performs prediction.

Spirituality

Spirituality has been found helpful, often crucial, in sustaining those in terrible situations. In our daily lives, a belief in the benevolence of the universe or a faith in the guidance of a Supreme Being helps propel us through adversity and contributes to confidence, resilience, empathy, and enjoyment of life. Besides, God might just give us a helping hand.

Beyond Surviving

You can be thriving, not just surviving. Skills that have gotten you this far can be honed to take you farther still. Play on!



Have you weathered a situation recently that made you feel like a survivor? Did some of these listed skills come into play?

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A former Harvard environmental science professor, Dr. Cooper is an author who helps others write and publish their books, via his business http://WriteYourBookWithMe.com.  His life's central theme has been a half-century romance (http://TingandI.com) with Tina Su Cooper, his wife, now quadriplegic due to multiple sclerosis and receiving 24/7 nursing care at home, as discussed at their website here.





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First published, somewhat edited, in sixtyandme.com ezine:

http://sixtyandme.com/feeling-lost-in-your-60s-this-10-step-survival-guide-can-help/

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Writing about Health, from WYBWM



HEALTH: DIET, EXERCISE, MIND

Major categories for successful nonfiction books include health, wealth, and relationships.

Yes, we are all going to die sometime. However, we’d like it to be later rather than sooner, and along the way we would like to look good and feel good. So…diet and exercise, and maybe meditate.

If you have the credentials, possibly if you only have experience, you can write credibly about these topics.

One of my writer drop-outs wanted to write a book about weight loss through exercise and diet, having lost scads of weight she had put on during and after a divorce. She took up body-building and developed a body that most men would like…to have themselves. My limited test marketing with some women I knew indicated that they did not want to learn how to look like her.

I did learn that 3600 calories are equivalent to about a pound of fat, and that much of the early weight loss in various diets is due to excretion rather than fat loss. While most of us expend around 1500 calories per day, the Navy SEAL trainees expend 6000 calories per day.

If you want to look slimmer, you need to eat less and do more. Hey, I’ve got the basis for a book, How to Look like a SEAL. Maybe not. At least it isn’t How to Look Like a Seal, although they are sleek.

Short of being a psychiatrist or a psychologist, what credentials do you need to be a mind- or mood-improver? One of my other writing dropouts was a kind of martial-artist-plus-meditator in a get-up, who eventually drifted off into multi-level marketing.


They say that old age is not for sissies, and neither is writing a book. Expect to spend hundreds of hours on it. And lots of mental calories.

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Excerpted from my magnum opus, Write Your Book with Me, published by Outskirts Press and available from OP as well as from online booksellers like amazon.com and bn.com.

Consider visiting my writing-coaching-editing site for a free ebook version of WYBWM and a free consultation on your plans to write and publish your book.