For writers

"One of the highest compliments a memoirist can receive is to have her book characterized as a page-turner certainly, but even better, that it reads like a novel." (Marcia Butler, Memoirist)

"...everything in life is writable...if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."..... Sylvia Plath

" Anybody can make the simple complicated; creativity is making the complicated simple."
                                                                                                                              ~ Charles Mingus


I was in my early eighties and decided I needed to start exercising again, after a long hiatus away from the gym. My first day back was somewhat of a rude awakening, as you can see in the following account.

I’m in a roomful of Octogenarians. They are all different sizes and genders and are marching around the room while a thin person, with a telephone operator’s headset on, is shouting out numbers: and 4, and 5, and 6, and from the stage play Chorus Line is playing loudly: One!…singular sensation… Everyone is singing the words as they march in time. They are walking and singing way faster than me. I try to keep up but am always the last one I see in the mirror as the group rounds the circle of this huge gym.

The thin person yells out to the group to walk backward and throw your hands in the air. By the time I get myself going backward, the group has turned sideways and is doing a fast side shuffle to New York, New York from the Broadway musical Chicago. I am so out of breath that I only manage to sing the last word of each line. But there is no respite. We have now been asked to kick forward as a Phillip Sousa march slams loudly against the walls and hardwood floors, boosting the moods of all participants, except me.

Finally, the thin person instructs everyone to hurry to the plastic bins along the side wall next to the drinking fountains and select three items: Being the last to
reach the bins, my favorite colors are gone and I settle on yellow, which nobody wants: a small yellow plastic ball, a long yellow plastic jump rope-looking thing with black handles on each end called a resistance band, and a pair of yellow two- lb. free weights. We are to put them under our chairs.

Everyone returns to their chairs and is led through a series of stretches: arms forward, grab your right arm at the elbow and pull it over your body to the left as far as you can and hold. Lift that right arm in the air and bend it behind you. Stretch it with your left hand....and so forth. I watch the thin person, who is now sitting in front of me. The Sousa marches have stopped, and everyone is singing some song I don't know at the top of their lungs.

The thin person picks up her resistance band and steps on it with both feet. the group follows; everyone except me. She lifts her right arm up over her head and stretches it out to its full length then switches to the left arm. By the time I get on my feet and start pulling up with my right arm, Thin Person is moving from side to side as she continues to stretch her arms UP alternately. I try to move but
cannot. Each time I try, I lose my balance and fall back against my chair; knocking the yellow ball stashed there out from under. It disappears... somewhere on the other side of the room. l finally give up and sit down, just as Thin Person is stretching her resistance band under the back of her chair, pulling both ends forward to exercise her arms. She remains seated. The whole class follows suit. Everyone but me.

After the resistance band debacle, we are instructed to place the small plastic ball, which has disappeared from under my chair, between our knees. We are
then given a litany of instructions which involve keeping the ball in place as we sit and move our legs up and down. Someone from the back row tosses me a ball just in time to finish up this group of exercises. Finally, we are to take up the free weights and go through a series of movements designed to strengthen our arms.

"Put everything back under your chair and go get a giant plastic ball," Thin Person announces. I run to get a ball before all the purple ones are all gone, stopping by the drinking fountain to gulp down some much-needed liquid for my parched throat. Next up, we are to
march around the room with the ball for a while, bouncing it up and down while we kick our legs out in back of us, then sit on it, roll around on it, and lie on it first on our stomachs than on our backs. The most I can do is sit on it while leaning against one of the pillars in the room. By this time, I'm wondering if I'm in the wrong class.

I ask myself: Is this a class for sedentary seniors, seniors who've never struggled with resistance bands, or tried to walk around with a plastic ball between their knees, or rolled around atop of an enormous fitness ball? Back when I used to go to the health club, they didn't have these sorts of things. We just danced back and forth to Jump by Van Halen.

I check my list of classes when I get home to make sure I didn’t make a mistake. The class is listed as: STAY FIT -  A CLASS GEARED TOWARD THE ACTIVE OLDER ADULT  Nope. I wasn't in the wrong class. But I am amazed at what they expected 80+ seniors to do. In fact, there were a few 90-year-olds in the group. I will definitely stick with it. If those 90-year-olds can do can I!


The following video discusses a work of Creative non-fiction. The author, a journalist embellishes the text to make it more entertaining and appealing to readera by using fictive techniques

Whether you yourself want to know how to create sound bites, or you have clients you want to pass this along to, here are some frequent questions I receive along with some tips for creating them that I hope you will find helpful.

Question: What the heck is a sound bite and why do I need to know how to create them?
Well, I'll tell you why. In this day and age with busy people often in overwhelm, no one has time to try and figure out who you are and what you're trying to say. You have to be able to summarize what your book is about and any of its key messages in a compelling and intriguing way in mere seconds. One recent news contact said, “If you can’t express what you want and why it’s newsworthy in ten seconds, you’re off the phone.” He’s not kidding.

So what exactly is a sound bite?
A sound bite is a short sentence or phrase that is easy to remember. It's compressed meaning with an element of surprise attached. Basically, you want to be able to take the key messages from your book and sum them up with a snappy phrase that sticks in the brain. For example, I heard an interview with a relationship expert who ended a story with the following line: "When it comes to relationships, perfection equals pure fiction!" Bingo. Easy to remember. Sticks in the brain.

Sound bites can be used when pitching an interview or a story (and are often the reason the interview is booked), or during the interview itself. It helps the audience to easily understand what you're saying.

How do I begin to create a sound bite?

First consider these elements:

Analogy: A comparison of two unlike situations. For example: "Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You understand it better but the frog dies in the process."
Unexpected metaphors: Compare your key message to something familiar. For example: “All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.” or "Laughter is the music of the soul."
Rhymes: Two words that sound alike. For example: "Shop till you drop."
Mnemonic: A tool to remember facts or a large amount of information. For example: To remember the first 8 U.S. Presidents, memorize, "Will a jolly man make a jolly visitor?" (George Washington, John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren)
Triples: The human mind likes threes. For example: "I came, I saw, I went." Another one is, "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

How to Write your Sound Bites:
  • Think about the key messages contained in your book. Write them down.
  • Write down key words and their synonyms regarding each key message.
  • Write whatever comes to mind initially. You can edit later.
  • Circle every descriptive word you’ve written
  • Review each descriptive word. Is there a better, more robust choice? If so, use it.
  • Draft a one or two sentence sound bite using the most important words on your list.
  • Read your sound bite out loud. Read it to someone else. Change anything that sounds awkward.
  • Remember, it's an evolution, and while you might hit on a great sound bite right away, often it takes some time and thought.
  • Practice, practice, practice.

More Tips for Great Sound Bites:
Remember, your sound bite or hook must be a grabber. Dull and boring just isn't going to cut it. You want a memorable message that makes listeners, viewers and readers what to buy your book and become a raving fan. Your sound bites should...
  • be 10 - 20 seconds long for podcasts, radio, video and television. (up to :30 seconds for print)
  • explain who you are, what you’re about, and why you make a difference.
  • be customized for different occasions.
  • be memorized. You need to know them really, really well so that when you say them, it sounds spontaneous--not rehearsed.
  • be communicated with a tone of excitement and should stand out from whatever else you're saying.

Nancy R. Hinchliff

 During the last six or seven years I owned and ran my bed and breakfast, I began writing again on a regular basis, sometimes 4-5 hours a day. It all started when I visited my youngest daughter and her husband one Christmas. He was in marketing and was constructing a new blog for his business. I had no idea what a blog was, except to hear Rosie O Donnell talk about the comments she was getting on hers that she didn’t like, and how she had decided to shut it down.

   I became intrigued with the idea and asked my son-in-law to explain the concept to me and show me how to set up a blog of my own, which he did. I decided it should be centered on my bed and breakfast and what went on there. I named it Inn Notes: a Bed and Breakfast Blog and wrote about everything I could think of. Amazingly, I never ran out of ideas for posts. I discovered I was a natural. And so I constructed my second blog, Inn Business, a blog about the hospitality industry. Again, I had more ideas for posts than I had time to write. And I loved it. I became obsessed as I am wont to do when I find something I’m really good at.

During the time I first started blogging, I became interested in Social Media and joined Twitter and Face book. By that time, I had discovered a site where I could publish journal articles and make a little money at the same time. There were thousands of writers on the site, so I could also get some feedback on my writing. I found several sites like this and joined them all. I tried writing fiction but quickly returned to non-fiction where I was comfortable and could put out at a high rate. I soon started writing for two online magazines. All the while my writing was improving and I was writing more and more each day, even though I was still running the business full time, but now with lots of help.

 I then started a third blog, Business and Creative Women’s Forum, and was entertaining a fourth one. It was this continual blogging that made me gradually aware of how comfortable I was with non-fiction, especially stream of conscious and personal essays in the first person. I began collecting my stories under the title Tales from an Innkeeper’s Crypt. I soon had a pretty good following who kept asking what was going to happen next and when I was going to turn my collected stories into a book.

I constructed my fourth blog and named it A Memorable Time of My Life, which in reality it was. This blog would be for and about writers. I wrote, researched, and contacted other writers who would be willing to guest post. I wanted as much information about, tips, and how-tos on writing as I could collect in one place. In addition, I would post excerpts from my memoir to generate interest among my readers and maybe get some additional feedback and do guest posts on other blogs. This blog is the most popular of all four and has more followers than the others, probably because I promote it the most.

The idea to write a memoir came to me around 2-3 years after I started blogging… I discovered that I loved blogging and that I was better at writing than I had thought I was. I  joined Hub Pages, a writing site, because I wanted to keep improving my writing Within a few months, I had written dozens of articles about life at my B&B…and was getting lots of loyal followers. Most of them thought the stories I posted about my inn would make a great book and they started suggesting it.

But, the very idea of writing a book scared me. I had never written anything longer than a few hundred pages. I had tried to write a few short stories…fiction mostly, but I discovered that fiction my genre. And so one day I took the plunge. As scared as I was of taking on an entire book, I let it all hang out and began writing furiously. The words just poured out onto the pages. All that blogging had helped me find my voice and I wanted to get it down on paper. I ended up with dozens of stories but balked at putting them all together in book form.

By this time, I realized that writing was my passion, that people liked what I was writing and thought it was humorous. In addition, I learned what memoir was and that I was a memoirist (non-fiction writer), rather than a writer of fiction. Believing that I could do it and that my on-line writer friends and followers were right about my stories making a good book, was a giant leap for me. My biggest challenges then were to find a way of connecting all the stories into a book and to learn how to approach memoir in a fictive way; grappling with character development, dialogue, voice, and vivid description. Memoir is not fiction, but the best memoir reads like fiction. In addition, I wanted it to be humorous, logical, connected, and entertaining.

I am still amazed that I wrote an entire book. It took a long time for me to even consider it seriously. But now, after publishing the first one, I am excited to be working on the second.

Nancy Hinchliff on Books by Women

The Challenges of Reconstructing the Past
by N. Hinchliff

       Before I wrote my first memoir, I had been writing mostly journal articles and personal essays in-between running a bed and breakfast. The idea to write a memoir came from my readers. I was publishing articles on a popular writer’s site and had gotten interested in blogging. Eventually, I married the two and starting writing about my life as an innkeeper. I have a penchant for wry humor and soon discovered my readers liked my sarcasm and writing style and encouraged me to write more of the same. This led to a regular series of essays titled Tales from the Innkeeper’s Crypt. Up to that time, writing a book had never entered my mind. It wasn't until after much urging from my friends and readers, that I decided to turn my innkeeper stories into a memoir. more

"Write to be understood and Write to engage the reader"

Living with a work in progress

by Nancy R Hinchliff

     Once you have written your first draft, the easy part is over and the hard part begins. The hard part is where you begin the process of re-writing and crafting your book, chapter by chapter, sentences by sentence, word by word. That’s exactly where I am now. I’m on my third re-write, revising, expanding and cutting .       re-writing and crafting your book, chapter by chapter, sentences by sentence, word by word. continued.........

Tips on writing good fiction
by Judith Marshall

      Judith Marshall is a third generation native Californian, born in St. Helena and raised in Concord. After leaving a successful career in corporate America as a human resources executive, She is currently working on her second novel, Staying Afloat, the story of a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother who morphs into a sex-starved adulteress. She lives in Northern California with her husband. For more information, go to

Ten Things to Remember when writing Fiction

Always begin with your protagonist – readers need to know who to root for
Start with action – lock in your readers upfront
Be visual in your approach – let readers “see” your story (this helped get my novel optioned for the big screen!)
Limit your descriptive words – make each one count
Don’t forget the senses – smell, touch, sight, etc.
Write only scenes that either enrich character, provide necessary information, or move the plot forward; or better yet, do all three
Rely on dialogue - readers rarely skip dialogue
Have your character do something while thinking – driving a car, washing dishes, combing a child’s hair
Use similes for style
When in doubt, leave it out!

         Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever
a first novel by Judith Marshall, is a winner of the Jack London Prize awarded
by the California Writers Club and recently optioned for the big screen.

      Set in a small town in Northern California, in the spring of 2000 when the dot-com boom was at its peak, the story centers around Elizabeth Reilly-Hayden, a successful executive in her late fifties and a divorced mother of two. Emotionally armored and living alone, she wants only to maintain the status quo: her long-term significant other, her job and her trusted friends— five feisty women who first met in high school. Yet in a matter of days, the three anchors that have kept her moored are ripped away. The group of lifelong pals gathers at Lake Tahoe to attend to the funeral arrangements of their beloved friend, and tries to unravel the mystery of her death. Through their shared tragedy, Liz learns how disappointment and grief can bloom into healing and hope.___

 Writer's block: Can't think of anything to write about?
by N. Hinchliff

       It doesn't matter what you write about.....Just start writing .....anything.
       Don't worry what it's about or if it even makes any sense. The more you write, the more you'll come up with more ideas for what to write about. Start with the rain, the sun, the paperboy, your favorite food, your annoying neighbors, anything. Once you see those words on the paper, you will want to make them better. Rewriting is the goal, at this point.

       Writing is a process. The beginning is where you just slap those words down on the paper (or computer screen). Don't worry about spelling or grammar or anything except telling, describing, reviewing or suggesting, whatever! Let the words flow. Do this, freely, unencumbered for a period of time.

       Now read it over. Move stuff (ideas, words, paragraphs) around on the paper or screen. Rewrite. Throw out what you don't like. Add more to it. Walk away from it. Come back and read it again. Rewrite. Love what you're doing. Make a game of it. Wallow in the process.

       Don't worry about how much time you're spending. Unless, of course you're getting paid and have a due date. If so, you probably already are familiar with the process.

       BTW, do you read a lot? If not, make it a practice to do so. A lot of ideas for what to write about can come from or because of something you read. Good luck!

 A strong platform: What it means for writers
by N Hinchliff

      If you are planning on publishing a book traditionally, whether it be fiction or
      non-fiction, you are going to need to develop a platform, especially if this is your first book.You may be wondering just what a platform is, what it has to do with you as an author, and if and when you should develop one.

     Your author platform determines your reach in the marketplace and it's important to your book promotion success. There are lots of definitions for author platform, but it basically boils down to three things: your brand, your reputation and your connections.

When publishers evaluate book proposals, they want an idea of how well known you are and how successful you will be at promoting your book once it's published so a strong author platform is critical. A platform is just as important for authors who publish independently.

The best time to start building your author platform is before you write your book or book proposal. It takes time to build your platform but, regardless of where you are on the publishing trail, you can continue to strengthen your author platform as you go along. read more.......

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