Thought Leader Series: That’s Good For a Laugh! 4 Tips to Writing a Funny Story

Writing a funny story

Being a kid is something everyone remembers. First bike ride, learning to tie your shoes, or taking a family vacation are all nostalgic moments. One memory that may stick in your mind is the first book that made you laugh. Have you ever wanted to write your own funny take that will become someone else’s memory? Here are some tips to writing a funny story that will go on in time:

Writing a funny story A good chuckle leaves a lasting impression.

1.) What do you remember?

Story time for children is a wonderful time for everyone. It helps to build a bond between parent and child and also enhances brain activity and mental development. There are millions of children’s books to read from at story time, but there is one that has never been heard or read yet. That’s because it hasn’t been written yet. Don’t hesitate and don’t be discouraged to put the pen to paper and start the next great story. With some imagination and a bit of direction, the next children’s book can be written. Here are 5 tips for writing a children’s book:

1.) Designate focus

Children’s books are all different and directed to particular age groups and sometimes genders. It’s important to designate the age group you want the book to focus towards. Is the book going to be directed toward girls or boys? Will it be a princess story or a tale of a basketball star? Some books include coloring pages and activities (C&A), so it needs to be considered if those will be added. Most children’s books are for audiences that don’t read well or read at all. The length of the book should stay under 1,000 words for fluidity and avoid unnecessary details.

2.) Research and read

There are many books at the library or book store that offer tips on writing and the publishing process. Bookemon.com offers a lot of help in the printing process and self-publishing. While you are spending time at the library, get to know the person in charge. They usually have knowledge of workshops and writing groups that improve writing skills and story development. Writing groups allow for open exchange of ideas and general knowledge. Always take advantage of resources and learn from fellow authors.

3.) Story, plot, and characters

Reverting back to your childhood is a great way to develop a plot for a story. What stories did you enjoy? Imagination is important, but always remember that a story needs to make sense. Create a hero or central character with a problem they must overcome either externally or internally. Every great story needs an opposing force such as a “baddie” or moral dilemma. Keep in mind that the good guy should always prevail. An awesome thing about children’s stories; magic is a legitimate solution to problems.

4.) Illustrations and artwork

Children’s books are mostly picture books or C&A. Depending on the age group, story line, and characters, the illustrations help set the tone of the book. Also, when writing shorter books with few words, illustrations help to fill in the story. Colorful, fun, animal pictures have more effect than black and white sketches or photography. Be sure to find an illustrator who conveys the story through their art as you want it to be seen. And, as with any project, there are going to be changes, so find an artist who is flexible.

5.) Read aloud

Story time is entertaining and reading aloud adds excitement, attitude and emotion. Children’s books often rhyme, but it isn’t mandatory. It’s important to have steady rhythm and cadence. Even syllables and sentence length make the book easier to read. The rhythm should also reflect what is happening in the story. For example, when there is an altercation between forces, the cadence should be quick and staccato. Whereas, a doggy napping with a kitty calls for a slow and calming rhythm. While writing and when finished, reading the story aloud helps to find the best rhythm and cadence.

These tips are to help you get your idea out of your brain and onto paper. Writing a great story for a child to explore is not as easy as it seems, but it’s worth the work. The next step of a great children’s book is getting it to the kids that want to read it. Bookemon is an online company for amateur authors that want their books to be read. Bookemon helps with the printing process and is a great company to get started with. So, when you finish writing that book, give ’em a try.

How Blogging Will Prepare You for Writing a Book

Writing your book

So you want to write a book – the great American novel, a collection of essays or short stories, or maybe the newest runaway-hit business book – and you’re not sure how to get started? Or how to refine your craft? Or to test the impact of your words on readers?

The answer to these questions, and so many more, is right in front of your nose. In fact, millions of people do it every day, 600 words and one topic at a time: They blog.

Writing your book

Here are five ways blogging will prepare you to write your book:

Gain Discipline

Every writer thinks they have a great idea or plotline. They can’t wait to get started. And then … nothing. The words just don’t come. Or they don’t come quickly or often enough.

As many writers have discovered, writing a book often comes down to discipline. The kind of discipline that turns a single idea into 90,000 words that tell a compelling story. But you can’t write 90,000 words all in one day. And some days, you won’t feel like writing at all.

This is where blogging helps. Commit to writing and publishing a blog post every week. Maybe twice a week. Soon, you’ll develop the self-discipline required to put pen to paper in a workman-like, consistent manner.

Deliver Clarity

Given the current attention spans of most readers, clarity has become infinitely important to aspiring writers. Specifically: how can you make your point and paint a compelling picture in the fewest words possible?

Knowing a reader has many outlets to gain the information they seek, a blogger must learn the art of being concise. They must write in short, easy-to-read bursts. And they must make their point before the reader is tempted to close the browser window. As you write your book, providing this level of clarity will become a tremendous asset.

Develop Ideas

Think you have an interesting plot line or marketable hook for your book? Think that real-world story may resonate with your readers? Wouldn’t you rather test that copy in a discrete, open way?

A blog is an excellent opportunity to test material, float a story or develop a critical idea. Publish the post, then sit back and gauge response. Did your blog readers react well to the concept? Did the post lead to several comments, even debate? Did your readers share generously on social media? If yes, that story, plot line or hook just may be ready for your book.

Writing your book

Collect Content

The reality is sometimes, as writers, we have trouble getting started. After all, writing a book worthy of publishing is a daunting task.

Blogging is a great way to gradually collect content that might eventually be used in your book. 600 to 800 words at a time, you create copy that may fit well within your book outline. Take this thought process a step further and you can use the outline of your book as a guide for what to post on your blog this week. Soon you’ll see that successful blog post as one-tenth of a book chapter, done.

Establish Credibility

Today’s most successful authors, whether delivering the finished work to a publisher or going the self-publishing route, must be seen as a rising star or a subject matter expert. And to reach that status, you must establish authority – before your book hits the shelves or internet.

A blog, combined with a solid online presence, is perhaps the best possible way to gain the credibility necessary to make your book a success.

Get your book started today, and started right. Start a blog! Before you know it, you’ll have compiled 90,000 words a publisher and the public will be ready to read.

Want to self-publish a book? Get started today!

Mark Babbitt is the CEO and Founder of YouTern, a blogger, a “Top 100 Leadership Speaker” (Inc.) and co-author of A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.

How to Turn Students’ Writings into Priceless Memories

Writing is an essential part of a student’s academic success and an important factor in solid communication skills throughout life, both personally and professionally. One of the best ways an educator can help their students to further develop essential writing skills is through activities that teach them how to craft their words carefully to tell a story.

Turn Students writings into Published Work
Students who excel at writing can harness tomorrow’s success.

Studies show that kids who learn how to write their own stories well, also develop methods to better organize their thoughts, and even communicate better. Writing skills lead to better reading and comprehension skills, and all of this adds up to greater success for the students involved.

As an educator, you are probably always looking for new, innovative ways to develop and expand your students’ writing skills. You know that the best way to garner their attention is to make it fun and exciting, like a class project where students can write and publish their own books. Memories would be preserved and creativity would flourish, but maybe the project seems daunting. How do you begin?

An Easy Way to Write, Publish, and Preserve Memories

Getting started is easy with online sites like Bookemon, one of the first to cater to teachers with a special edCenter, which allows students to write, create, and publish their own book with impressive, professional results.

The entire process of organizing, writing and making a book is typically a huge source of pride for students; and even better, their stories, illustrations and photos are preserved to be cherished for years to come.

What are the edCenter Basics?

Bookemon created edCenter specifically for educators to set up a secure, private and friendly environment for their students to create, publish and even purchase their own books. You can easily create an edCenter specifically for your individual class, to serve as a special group project, or for a specific grade level of students at your school (all for free).

How Does Bookemon Do It?

Students write and save their story into a Word Document or PDF file. The document can be uploaded into Bookemon’s easy to use bookmaking templates in your edCenter. Students choose the template they desire, decide where photos or illustrations go, and can even add special fonts and clip art.

As you oversee the writing and publishing project, EdCenter gives you, the educator, and full access to guide your students’ book projects. But, be forewarned that the students will easily be able to manage the bookmaking process without a lot of assistance from you because of the advanced digital software that is so simple to use. Students can take full pride in the outcome; a professional looking book that they wrote and created themselves.

Students writings
Nothing inspires learning like a writing project where you make your own book.

How to Get Started

To Join Educator Program, go to Bookemon’s Educator’s Program Page at www.bookemon.com/educator-home, click “Join Educator Program”. There your will identify your position at your school in the following categories: teacher, administrator, staff member, or support group, Select your K-12 school, non-profit organization or college from our Educator’s Program database and then you are allowed to create your edCenter, while completing your membership registration, or you may wait until after you have joined the Educator Program at Bookemon.

Parent Access
Once your students have created their books with Bookemon’s digital software, you can also choose to get the books into your own edCenter bookstore, where parents can be granted access in order to purchase copies. This is a central place where all of the edCenter published books including public or edCenter member only books are listed.

To share your edCenter bookstore with parents, you simply find “edCenter Bookstore” on the navigation bar after you enter the edCenter. Click “invite parents to store” where you can fill in the email addresses of where you want to send a special secret passcode. Essentially, access to your class’s edCenter is controlled by your exclusive passcode assigned by you, the educator, but you can send it to parents in this special invite email. Only those with the passcode can view and purchase the edCenter member only books.

Safeguards for Student Accounts

Student accounts are designed to help educators enroll their students into the edCenter without use of email invitations. Additional safeguards are in place for these accounts, like activities online are confined within the edCenter, in a secluded online environment. All student accounts are linked to the educator that creates the edCenter. So, any communication from Bookemon to the student members would be sent to the email address of the founder.

Some basic benefits of edCenter:

  • Group Privacy: At your discretion, books and information can only be accessed by members.
  • Student Accounts: Teacher can add student accounts for their students gaining added privacy and ease of oversight on students’ works.
  • Free for educators: There is no cost to create your own edCenter. There is no obligation to purchase.
  • Educator Discount: All members of your edCenter will receive a 10% discount off of purchased books.
  • Mobile Access: Using bookPress or Bookemon Mobile apps, you can access your edCenter via iPhone, iPad or Android devices.
  • Membership Control: Management tools for founder/administrators to control who can join your group.
  • Collaboration: Members within the group can create book collaboratively

Learn and Preserve Student Writing

There are a few publishing options out there, but students do best with a format that is easy to use, allows customization of their books, and lets them choose all the small details right down to the font. Students can publish works of fiction, non-fiction, a memoir or even a comic book. Even class photos can be preserved into a keepsake book for purchasing.

The free software provides endless possibilities to publish virtually any type of book. This project can open up a world of learning possibilities for your students and preserve their stories into a beautiful keepsake, so try it out today.

Expert Interview Series: Jackie French Koller With Writing Tips for People Who Don’t Think They Can Write

Writing tips

With several books to her credit, including one that has been made into a movie on Disney Channel, Jackie French Koller is a successful author as well as an accomplished painter.

She recently shared her top writing tips for people who don’t think they can write. This popular writer has some empowering words of wisdom for all aspiring authors. Read on:

Can you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming a professional writer?

The road to publication was a long one for me. Although I grew up loving books, it never occurred to me that an ordinary person like me could actually “write” a book. I graduated from college with a liberal arts degree and went to work in insurance, because I lived in Connecticut at the time, and Connecticut was the insurance capital of the world. I was actually an under-“writer”, but underwriting had very little to do with creative writing.

When did you first discover that you wanted to write?

It was not until I got married and had my first child, and began reading to her that my love of children’s books came flooding back and I started getting ideas for stories of my own. I began by writing stories just for her, but the more I wrote, the more I began to dream of becoming a “real” writer.

Soon I was sharing my stories with others, and I came to learn of a Writer’s Conference at UMass, just over the border from where I then lived, in Simsbury, Conn. I attended the conference and set my dream in motion. It would be 10 years before my first book saw publication, with lots of rejection and disappointment in between, but I was determined, and now, over 30 books later, I can say it was a journey well worth taking.

What is the primary tip you would give to people who don’t think that they can write?

When I was a little girl, my father told me I could be anything I wanted to be, and I believed him, so when I decided that I wanted to be a writer, I never really doubted that it would happen. It took a LOT of work, and a LOT of learning, but I knew that the only person who could stop me from succeeding was myself – by giving up – and I wasn’t about to do that.

Everyone has something interesting to write about because we all share in the human experience and we are all interested in how others cope with the cards they are dealt. Look to your own life, and the moments that stand out. Think about the funny experiences, the sad experiences, the scary experiences, the touching experiences, the over-the-top silly experiences. All of these are rich fodder for stories.

What is the first step one should take in order to improve their writing?

The No. 1 step is to write! You can’t become a piano player without playing the piano. You can’t become a football star without playing football, and you can’t become a writer without writing – a lot – just as much as music students and aspiring sports players need to practice to get to the top. The No. 2 step is to join a critique group, or at least share your stories with others who will give you their “honest” feedback, because your own writing comes from your heart and it is very hard to see the flaws in your own work. I was lucky to be a children’s book writer, because it was easy for me to get unbiased feedback. I remember reading one of my early stories to group of children and watching them start to fidget and lose interest about a third of the way through. Big wake-up call! Back to the drawing board.

Do you think there is one creative process that can work for all?

Absolutely not. There are some irrefutable truths. You have to write and write and get honest feedback (don’t ask people who just want to make you happy), but beyond that, you have to find the process that works for you. Some writers swear by outlining. I HATE outlining. My process is to start to get to know my characters by thinking and thinking about them and their story until they come to life for me and I can hear their voices in my head. It took a long time to get to that point, but interestingly enough, after all the years of writing and learning, the very first time I could actually hear a character’s voice in my head resulted in my very first published book. (Impy for Always – Little Brown & Co.).

How easy or hard is it to become a published author?

The exciting thing about being an aspiring author today, as opposed to back in the 80s when I was starting out, is that there are so many more publishing opportunities. You can self-publish an e-book so easily, and you can publish real, nice quality hardcover or paperback books as well, at reasonable prices. These options are nice for published authors as well because most books inevitably go out of print, but now we have options.

We can make our out-of-print books available again to fans who loved a book, and want to share it with their children or grandchildren, but can’t get it anymore. It also gives us a chance to publish books that we know are good, but that just didn’t find the right editor at the right time. So much about publishing is subjective, and so many factors play into the success of a book, that many good books fall between the cracks. Thanks to today’s technology, they can find new life.

How do people achieve next-level readiness to learn and move up as a writer?

Write, write, write, get honest criticism, and re-write, re-write, re-write. Also, read, read, read. There is no better teacher than a well-written book. Pay attention to the passages that make you pause and say, “Wow, that is so beautifully written. Those words really grab me by the heart and soul. They draw me right into the moment – make me laugh, make me cry, make me ‘see,’ make me feel.”

What things should a writer never do?

Never underestimate your reader. Never write “down” to a child. Never compromise your values to make a sale. And never overwrite. Simplicity is the key to good writing. Never try to show off your vocabulary. Never use two words when one will do. One of the most simply and beautifully written books I’ve ever read is Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan. The writing is so pared down and bare bones beautiful that every word sings. Read it and be inspired. I tried to emulate that simplicity in my own writing, and I think the book that comes closest is The Promise.

What is the key ingredient to writing well?

Look at writing like you would look at any other career. Don’t think you are going to dash off your first book and hit the best seller list. Put the same time and effort into learning your craft that you would put into any other career.

Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

Not everyone wants or needs to be a professional writer. Some people want to write their memoirs to share with their families. Some people want to write down a beloved story that has been told orally to their children and grandchildren, perhaps passed down from their own parents or grandparents. Illustrated by a child or grandchild, these can be some of the most beautiful stories of all. Or perhaps your child has written a story of his or her own that you want to publish and save forever. The amazing thing is that anyone can do these things now thanks to sites like Bookemon. Aren’t we all lucky to have so many wonderful new creative opportunities at our fingertips? So what are you waiting for? Start writing!

Follow Jackie on her website and the Black Dog Gallery.

Start creating your book today.