Tag: resources (Page 1 of 4)

Resources for Educational Storytelling

In my quest to equip an army of educational storytellers, I have come across some other revolutionaries and sources or great help. I wanted to share a few of my favorites.

 

 

Writers’ Groups

Writers groups, or critique circles, are pivotal in becoming a professional writer. Thriller writer Nicole Wilson shares her thoughts on the importance of these groups, what makes a good group, and how to get the most out of the experience.


One of the most important steps a writer can take to help their craft is to join a writers’ group. It’s literally a collection of people who are experiencing the same struggle you are, and it can be incredibly encouraging.

How They Work

A small group of people meet at a predefined location, usually a bookstore or someone’s house. Everyone is a writer, so it’s a safe zone to express your successes, frustrations, and everything in between. Also, each person is at a different stage in their writing. Some are already published, others are agenting, and others are working on their first manuscript. Normally, there’s a set page limit, so all of you bring, say, ten pages a week every Thursday night at 7 PM. Each person either reads their piece aloud or has it read aloud by someone else in the group. Then the group takes a few minutes (some are stricter and time it) to discuss any big-ticket items.

My Experiences

I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of two great writers’ groups in my writing career. A friend – who later became my husband – invited me to tag along to his group. The first time I went, I had no clue what to expect. We were meeting at a Barnes & Noble, and, when I walked in, there was this small table toward the back where eight or nine people were sitting. I found Michael and was immediately welcomed with open arms in the group. I made several friends that, three years later, I still keep in touch with. As for the structure, each person picked someone else to read their five pages. We went around the circle and gave short feedback. The author was not aloud to speak until the feedback was complete.

The second writers’ group I’ve loved (which I’m currently in now) is also amazing. We meet at one woman’s house and sit around her dining room table. Everyone reads their own ten pages out loud, then whoever has a comment speaks and the group discusses. The author is allowed to comment with the group. It’s a loving community of 8-13 people (depending on the week), and we share food and life as well.

Benefits

There are many benefits to joining a writers’ group.
1) Simply put, you have access to a support group. These people either know what it’s like to go through what you are now or they want to know, so they encourage sharing stories, both successes and failures.

Read the rest…


Nicole Wilson spends her days planning for disasters and her nights writing about them. She lives in a small apartment with her husband and two cats, all who contribute to her writing endeavors. Nicole has written many books and short stories and is at work on more. Three of the short stories have been published online, which you can find on her website at www.nicolewilsonauthor.com

(Writing for fiction) Research, Research, Research

As an author of technology thrillers, Nicole Wilson does a lot of research before she ever pens the first word. Here is a great article about her research process.


So there’s this funny thing called “research” that creeps up on unsuspecting writers. There are two sides to this: Some want to write without having to do any research (cough cough me). Others have to limit themselves on how much research they’re allowed to do or they’ll get carried away. Regardless of which side authors fall on, research is a necessity for most.

How much research is necessary is dictated by the book. It varies by genre, setting, situation, etc. But, for the most part, it’s important to get the facts straight. Readers pay attention, and it throws them when something is almost right, but there’s one thing off. It takes them out of the book. They’re no longer immersed in the story, which is the exact opposite of what writers want.

Writing in the thriller genre, I work in today’s world. Therefore, I need to know the basic layout and feel of cities (even if I do end up butchering it; then I can claim it was “for the book”). I need to get whatever the topic of my book is straight so I can figure out where to stick to real life and where to deviate. My books have a lot of technology in them, so I need to know how that technology works. For historical fiction, it may seem obvious that research is pivotal. Readers pick that book up partially so they can experience what 12th century villages were like. Fantasy may not seem so obvious. “They can make up their world so what do they have to research?” However, a lot of fantasy has basis in the real world, or some basis in our scientific principles (e.g. how physics works, gravity), so they need to research in order to create their own realistic imaginary world.

When to do the research is a matter of preference. Some authors do it before plotting, some do it before writing, some wait until they’re in the moment and need information. I (now) do mine early on, though I usually do some research throughout as I come across things I didn’t think of in planning.

Read the rest…


Nicole Wilson spends her days planning for disasters and her nights writing about them. She lives in a small apartment with her husband and two cats, all who contribute to her writing endeavors. Nicole has written many books and short stories and is at work on more. Three of the short stories have been published online, which you can find on her website at www.nicolewilsonauthor.com.

 

Query Letter Tips

I have been sending out query letters like a crazy person lately. Let me tell you, writing a novel is hard, but nothing compared to cramming a year of your life into a four-paragraph sales pitch. Nicole Wilson was a lifeline for me. She reviews the most important query letter tips.

In the process of getting Deception ready for agents, I’ve done quite a bit of research on query letters. As there’s no sense in keeping all this information floating around my head to myself, here are some tips I’ve learned along the way. (I’m leaving out some of the standard ones like include word count and genre because I’ve mentioned them in my annotated query example below):

  • DO customize your query for each agent. Put their name at the top (make sure it’s spelled correctly), and always include something that indicates you at least read their website (maybe a recent book they’ve represented, another author, etc.).
  • DO read their website for submission guidelines. Every agent has different guidelines. While this may seem like a hassle, they’re looking to see who is professional enough to research. They’re looking for business partners (as writing is a business). And they get an average of 100 query letters A DAY, so they need something to thin the pile.
  • DON’T expect feedback from them. Their job is not to provide you feedback. It’s to tell you if they are able to sell the book or not.
  • (This is my own personal advice) DON’T include words like “and then this happens” or “and another character enters” while telling your story. You want to engross your agent in your query letter. Make them feel like they’re reading a book and want to read more after they’ve finished your letter. Don’t remind them they’re at work, sifting through email. We all know how lame that feeling can be. :)
  • DON’T use a query blaster or CC/BCC a bunch of agents on the same email. This tacks onto my first “do.” You must customize for each agent. Also, several of them have said that nothing gets a query deleted unread faster than that (because they can tell).
  • DON’T try to be fancy or gimmicky. Like I said before, they’re looking for professionals, and your query letter is a business letter. This is not the time for pink or scented paper or gifts that represent the book. Send them what they want and nothing more.

Read the rest (there’s a lot more)…


 

Nicole Wilson spends her days planning for disasters and her nights writing about them. She lives in a small apartment with her husband and two cats, all who contribute to her writing endeavors. Nicole has written many books and short stories and is at work on more. Three of the short stories have been published online, which you can find on her website at www.nicolewilsonauthor.com.


 

Query Shark

Another amazing tool for writing query letters. This site is a cornerstone for authors everywhere. The query shark is an actual agent who spends her free time critiquing query letters. There are hundreds of queries from all genres, each with commentary.

http://queryshark.blogspot.com/

The Citizens’ Police Academy – My Experience

First hand research is a must. Nicole Wilson, a thriller author, recently went through the Citizens’ Police Academy and learned what it takes to be a police officer — and got a ton of great writing research. Here, she shares here boon.


For the last nine weeks, I have had the opportunity to be a part of a program with the Houston Police Department called the Citizens’ Police Academy. It has been an incredible experience, both from a personal and a writer’s standpoint. I’ve been exposed to new people and situations, seen buildings normally locked down to civilians, and ridden along with police officers. It has given me a new respect for the officers and what they do.

Introduction

For those that don’t know, the Citizens’ Police Academy is a ten week program that teaches civilians about different divisions within a police department. The goal of the academy is to educate the public on the inner workings of the department, so they can act as a public representative within their communities. Police these days get lots of bad press, and it’s easy to forget that, most of the time, only the bad get media attention. More often than not, the outstanding things they do aren’t publicized. This program gives civilians an inside look at what they do and why they do it.

One day a week for three hours, they give lectures, hands-on demonstrations, and field trips to the various units. Each week is a different topic, and for every topic, they bring in experts to talk to us, show us what they do, and, in some cases, teach us how to do it, too. Basically, we get to learn all of the things the cadets do in the academy, but without the homework, sweat, and tears (and the badge and gun– we don’t get those either). This program is not limited only to HPD; several students in my class have done this program around the country.

Curriculum

Week 1 – Orientation/Tactics

Orientation was just what it sounds like: introductions all around. But then they took us out in the police cruisers and had trainers drive us through the precision course (the driving course with all the orange cones around). Talk about an adrenaline rush! We hit 50 MPH a couple of times on a very short track. Then, they showed us intermediate weapons: OC spray (mace), batons, and tasers. They even let me shoot a taser! At a paper target, of course.

Fun fact I learned this week: Chevy Caprices are favored by some officers as their car because it’s lighter, more maneuverable, and has better handling than the Crown Vics.

Read the rest…


 

Nicole Wilson spends her days planning for disasters and her nights writing about them. She lives in a small apartment with her husband and two cats, all who contribute to her writing endeavors. Nicole has written many books and short stories and is at work on more. Three of the short stories have been published online, which you can find on her website at www.nicolewilsonauthor.com


 

Resources for Educators: Digital Educational Games

Educational gaming is important to me. I believe that any way we can engage students and have those students engage a variety of processes, senses, and intelligences, the learning will be cemented much more effectively.

This is one of my favorite sites for open to use, digital educational games.

http://cttl.rice.edu/ProjectsGames/

 

Resources for Visual Artists: Public Domain Images

As a blogger and artist, I am constantly struggling for high quality images to use in posts and pieces. Royalties can bleed you dry, especially for something as trivial as a rant or simple blog.

BlenderDiplom has come to my rescue. These sites are filled with royalty free, public domain images that are actually high quality.

Resources For Public Domain CCO Images

Share the love in the comments and let us know some of your favorite image houses.

Personalized Learning With Richard Culatta

In this TED talk, Richard Culatta speaks about innovative learning and personalized education. It’s truly inspirational and gives some great, practical tips.

Richard Culatta is an internationally recognized leader in educational innovation with experience in k-12, higher education, and workplace learning environments. Culatta is known for his thoughtful approach to bringing new ideas and collaborations to the education ecosystem. Culatta is currently serving as Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Education and as the Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education.

Resources for Artists: Be More Productive

We’ve all been there, needing that extra nudge to actually get something good done. Twitter and Facebook can suck you into a vortex and never let you go. We, as artists, need inspiration, tools, resources, and help with things we may not do so well (like social media marketing).

The good folks over at Creative Shrimp have put together a wonderful, catch-all list of 19 Useful Resources to Help You Get More Productive at Art. I use several of these regularly. You should really check it out.

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