Archive for the ‘Writing’ category

Top Ten Mistakes New Writers Make

November 18, 2014

I’ve worked with a lot of beginning writers and I find we all make the same mistakes. I’ve compiled what I consider to be the top 10 mistakes I’ve made and I’ve witnessed new writers doing. We can all break the rules and we should – once we know what they are. Take a look at my list below. Do you see yourself anywhere?

  1. Not using contractions – Do not, cannot, is not; don’t use these in your writing, especially not in dialogue. You don’t speak this way, so why would you write this way? Contractions make your writing sound stilted. You want your writing to sound as natural as possible.
  2. Beginning a sentence with “And” – And is a “joiner” is connects two things like “high-heeled shoes and short skirts” or “Godzilla and Tokyo.” It doesn’t belong at the start of your sentences.
  3. The compound verb is not your friend – Be careful of long verb phrases and long wordy phrases. Instead of “He was not able to find a way to go” say “He couldn’t go.” In general, less is always more when it comes to words. Find the shortest, most precise way to express what you mean.
  4. Pick a tense any tense – Then stick with it! Be sure if you are writing in the past tense to use that tense for the entire story. You can use present tense to tell a story if that is a conscious choice, and again, be faithful to it; have your characters speak in present tense for the whole telling of the story.
  5. Point of View (POV) – Be clear about it. If you’re in one character’s head, stay there for at least an entire scene. Be careful of head hopping (going from one character’s point of view to another) in the middle of a scene. This can be very confusing for your reader. You can switch from one character to another in different chapters or even in the same chapter if you leave a few lines of space between paragraphs.
  6. Use Short sentences – Whether you are describing the landscape or expressing the thoughts or actions of your characters, stick with short sentences. They’re easier for the reader to grasp. They’re also impactful.
  7. Showing vs. Telling – This is a big issue for most newbie writers. Instead of using an adjective like “afraid” to tell us how your character feels, try using body language: “Carol’s breathing was shallow. Her hands were sweating. She wondered if anyone could see her legs shaking as she stood at the microphone.” Body language is very important because it makes the event more palpable to the reader, they can feel this in their own body and it evokes emotion.
  8. A word about dialogue – OK, actually I have more than a word about dialogue because new writers have difficulty with it. The first thing to know is the ONLY word to use as a dialogue tag is “said.” This is because the reader’s eye glides right over it. You want to use body language to convey the emotion your character is feeling.
  9. Adverbs are strictly forbidden – Again, this relates to dialogue. Never use an adverb in a dialogue attribution i.e. “she said vehemently.” It’s the job of the author to create body language that shows what the character is feeling.
  10. Leaving out emotion – Emotion is the MOST difficult thing to get onto the page. Even humor is easier to capture. When your character is going through angst, your reader needs to feel it too. We can’t get to it if you are unwilling to feel it and get it on the page. Don’t worry if this doesn’t happen in the first draft. You may just get down the nuts and bolts of a scene in the first draft and go back for subsequent revisions to add body language, actions and dialogue that really convey the emotions of your characters and evokes them in your readers. When you get right down to it, this is what writing is all about – making your readers feel.

Try these suggestions and see if your writing feels cleaner and more honest. If you’d like to work with me on getting to the essence of your story, you can contact me at CorinneCasazza@gmail.com

Corinne L. Casazza is an international best-selling author based in Boston, Massachusetts. She’s currently at work on her third novel. Corinne believes that through creativity and humor, we all find our own inner light.

Corinne’s best-selling ebook: “Break These Chains of Love: A New Paradigm for Relationship” is available here: http://ow.ly/Brook

Check out Corinne’s Amazon Author page: www.amazon.com/author/corinnecasazza

Corinne’s Facebook Fan Page includes tips for beginning writers.

For more information about Corinne including classes and speaking events, visit her Web site at CorinneCasazza.com

Advertisements

On Goals and Becoming a best-selling author

August 31, 2014
my new best-selling ebook

My new best-selling ebook!

It is with great joy and humility that I write this line: I became a best-selling author this week. Yes, I am so amazed, excited, elated and grateful. I achieved a goal that has been a dream of mine for almost four decades. Truly, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to be. When I received the news that my latest ebook: “Break These Chains of Love: A New Paradigm for Relationship” hit best-seller status on Amazon, I was overjoyed! I felt like someone should pinch me. I cried tears of joy for about a half hour.

I knew that someday this would happen. I’ve been writing since I was eight years old. It’s only been in the last six years that I began to believe it. I had been in the energy of and interviewed so many best-selling authors during my time in Sedona and I’d also written copy that helped eight other people become best-selling authors on Amazon: this finally made me believe it would one day be my destiny too.

Although this had been a dream of mine almost all my life, I had never written it down! When I teach classes on manifestation, the first thing I tell people is to write down their dreams, what they want to manifest. The act of writing it down brings the wish from the world of spirit and the ethers, into the material world of form.

I always have a list of goals I’m working on and “becoming a best-selling author” was never on it! I finally put it in writing only a few months ago.  Why? I had so much fear around this goal and a huge story to go with it!

I worried that if I were a best-selling author, I’d have to take responsibility for my gifts and actually USE them! Oh no! And people would want to talk to me. They’d want to hear what I had to say. For someone who was painfully shy as a child, this is a huge fear. I had to be willing to be seen and heard: no more hiding. And, there was a whole pile of the unknown – that wonderful mystery we need to step into to create the life of our dreams – that went along with it.

The other thing that happened prior to my hitting best-seller status was a change in my attitude. I moved from selfish to service. Instead of simply wanting people to read my work (selfish), I shifted to feeling and believing that my experience could actually help someone (service). I told myself if I helped just one person with my new book, my job was done.

There were two days this week, the two days that just preceded my best-seller status, where I actually felt deeply what it would feel like to be of service with my writing. This feeling brought me to tears on both of those days.

So, my conclusion here is to advise you to write down your goals. Even the big, scary ones – in fact, especially those. The Universe has a way of bringing up and clearing all your limiting beliefs that get in the way – IF you are paying attention and willing to change.

________________________________

Corinne L. Casazza is a best-selling author based in Boston, Massachusetts. She is currently at work on her third novel. Corinne believes that through creativity and humor, we all find our own inner light.

Corinne’s best-selling ebook: “Break These Chains of Love: A New Paradigm for Relationship” is available here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N1F8TL8

Check out Corinne’s Amazon Author page: www.amazon.com/author/corinnecasazza

Learn more about Corinne’s class on Removing Limiting Beliefs on Sunday, September 21st.

Corinne’s Facebook Fan Page includes tips for beginning writers.

For more information about Corinne including classes and speaking events, visit her Web site at CorinneCasazza.com

 

Message from the Universe # 10075: Iron Man Rules!

July 17, 2014

I love the way the Universe sends messages. Recently I had rewritten a scene in my new book, “The Adventures of Blue Belly and Sugar Shaker,” and referenced Iron Man (the character portrayed by Robert Downey Jr.). I was second-guessing the whole rewrite as I drove to hot yoga. Was the scene right? Was it better than when I started? Should I have left in Iron Man? Was the humor I used appropriate for the scene etc…? I was still thinking about this as I sat in the studio stretching before class. Then, the man in front of me peeled off his t-shirt to reveal a tattoo. I’ll give you one guess what it was. Yup. Iron Man. The super hero took up half the man’s back. What are the odds? Got it, Universe, Iron Man stays in the scene.

Here’s another synchronicity, this one occurred while I was contemplating my main character’s name.  She’s a funny character and I wanted her to have a name to match. I came up with Isabella Calamare. I was wondering if the name really worked and if I should keep it. A few hours later I found some artwork one of my friends made me. It’s an elaborate piece of colored pencil work. As I looked at it, marveling that my friend had taken the time to create it for me, I noticed something I’d never seen before. Down in the left corner of the drawing was a small, green octopus. Yup, a calamare!

After that, I visited my massage therapist. She had a stuffed animal on her counter. Yes, it was an octopus. I thought it was an odd choice for a stuffed toy – I don’t usually consider octopi cuddly. When I commented on it, she told me that in ancient Hawaiian Huna the octopus symbolizes Divine Mother. This, of course, fit perfectly with my character.

These are the signs around me when I’m writing that let me know I’m on the right track. It doesn’t happen just for writing, it happens in every area of life. The Universe is always talking to us, sending messages. The more you notice, the more they happen and you go… Into the mystic. Thank you, Universe!

Corinne L. Casazza is a freelance writer based in Boston, Massachusetts. She is currently at work on her third novel. Corinne believes that through creativity and humor, we all find our own inner light.

Corinne’s novel, Walk Like an Egyptian is available at Amazon.com or from Llumina Press.

Check out Corinne’s Facebook Fan Page for tips for beginning writers.

Visit Corinne’s Web site at CasazzaWriting.com

I’ll Get You My Pretty OR Why Temporary Triumphs and Reversals are Critical to Story

June 27, 2014
Wicked Witch

I’ll Get You My Pretty

I am addicted to USA Network’s drama “Suits.” I’ve been mesmerized by the show and can’t stop watching. Why? Because there’s a constant back and forth of temporary triumphs and reversals. It’s like a ping pong game and I can’t look away. I can’t wait to see what happens next. How will the character get out of this jam? Will they?

A temporary triumph is just that — it looks like a character has won something. For instance, in The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and company score a temporary triumph when they reach Oz and ring the bell. They’ve finally made it to Oz – they’ve been journeying there for half the movie. Their success is short lived when they’re told to come back tomorrow – there’s the reversal.  Following that is another temporary triumph — they get in. But, then they’re told they need to return with the witches shoes – another reversal.

Most stories have one or two temporary triumphs and reversals, but the most successful have many more. These are very compelling to your reader – they are really pulling for the character, so much so that they can’t stop reading, which is exactly what you want. It also gives you as the author a chance to more deeply reveal the inner workings of the character – how resourceful are they? How honest? How devious?

After Dorothy and friends defeat the witch, marking the climax of the story, they return to the Wizard. He, an old carny man from Kansas, says he’ll take Dorothy home in his balloon – another temporary triumph. Drats, the balloon takes off without her – another reversal. Good witch Glenda shows up and tells Dorothy she had the power to get home all along. And she does. Finally. The turnabouts that happen even after the climax make the story compelling, and a classic.

In “Suits,” the lawyers are always trading insults, skirting the edge of the law, trying to convince a hostile witness to testify on their behalf, all this makes for very interesting storytelling. One minute they have a witness in custody – triumph. The next minute he escapes – reversal. They get the witness back – triumph. He’s shot and killed – reversal. And so on. Not every trial turns out the way we think it might and not all the wins are fulfilling, but this is also true in life.

Temporary triumphs and reversals are the stuff of true life. They give your characters depth and humanity – or not. The reader feels rewarded every time the character triumphs and roots them on whenever a reversal, particularly a stinging one from an arch rival, comes along.  So, pepper your stories with triumphs and reversals and keep your readers hooked!

——————–

Corinne L. Casazza is a freelance writer based in Boston, Massachusetts. She is currently at work on her third novel. Corinne believes that through creativity and humor, we all find our own inner light.

Corinne’s novel, Walk Like an Egyptian is available at Amazon.com or from Llumina Press.

Check out Corinne’s Facebook Fan Page for tips for beginning writers.

Visit Corinne’s Web site at CasazzaWriting.com

 

Return to the Temple: A Baptism into Love and Joy

January 27, 2013
Ceiling mural at temple of Dendera

Ceiling mural at temple of Dendera

My trip to Egypt in November 2010 was priceless. It was the trip of a lifetime and I know setting foot on that ancient soil has changed me in ways I may never be consciously aware of. I do know that I received an initiation when I was there which opened me to love and joy in a whole new way.

In ancient Egypt, initiations were life-threatening. They were serve or suffer, sink or swim. Initiates were thrown into situations (like spending an entire night in a sealed sarcophagus) and if they couldn’t face their fears they risked death. It was a way of surrendering to pain and fear and then being able to render more of your true self to service. While my life was never in jeopardy, my initiation still required surrendering.

I was on a bus traveling from Abydos to Dendera – two sacred temples, the last two on our journey. Dendera is the Goddess Hathor’s temple dedicated to love and joy. While on the bus, I was overcome with motion sickness. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Oh, there was the usual dizziness and nausea, but my whole body was convulsing uncontrollably. I was aware of what was being said around me, I just couldn’t move. I was so nauseous I knew I’d have to get sick before I felt better. I didn’t want to focus on that. I especially didn’t want to think about the flight back to Cairo I’d have to board later that night… as the bus careened and thumped along a bumpy dirt road and the driver blared his horn every two seconds, I had to focus on letting go. Just relaxing into the moment.

When we arrived in Dendera, the air conditioning on the bus shut off. The other 44 people all walked past my seat. The combination of the heat and the sudden movement was just enough to push me over the edge. I lost my lunch in a plastic bag.

Once you toss your cookies on a bus full of people, all vanity pretty much goes out the window. I did start to feel a bit better though. Emil, the Egyptologist on our tour, told me I had to see the temple.

“I don’t want to,” I said my head slumped against the multi-colored bus seat in front of me.

“You must come,” he insisted, waving his hands around.

I knew I had to go. I didn’t want to miss the temple of love and joy. I had come so far to be here. I got off the bus and walked out into the 100 degree heat. Emil took my hand and led me away from the group.

“Come,” he said. “I give you good medicine, local medicine.”

He pulled me by the hand up to the front of the line where people with tickets were waiting to get into the temple. He shouted something in Arabic to the guard and pulled me right past the line.  I looked back in amazement at all the people we’d just cut. It was just so surreal.

Emil kept dragging me by the hand. We ran up to the front of the temple and he said, “Tip your head over.”

“What?” It was the last thing I felt like doing. I still felt slightly dizzy and nauseous and moving my head didn’t help.

“Tip your head over, I give you medicine.”

I did as I was told and Emil poured a bottle of cold water over my head. It cooled me down and I felt a bit better.

I entered the temple and the guard put down his automatic weapon to spread a cloth at the base of one of the columns for me to sit. He smiled and I could feel his compassion as he pointed me to my prepared place. I barely listened to the tour Emil was giving. I was still pretty out of it.

Then Nicki Scully, one of our tour guides and an incredible shaman, came over to me and held out her hand. She led me further into the temple.

Nicki was dressed in one of her ceremonial vestments – a beautiful black velvet robe with silk inlays. I kept stepping on her robe as we walked.

She led me into an interior room and sat me in the corner. “Sit here,” she said, “and let her heal you.” She pointed to the ceiling which was covered in a relief.

“This is my favorite room in all of Egypt. Just sit here and take it in.”

With that, Nicki was gone leaving me to stare up at the ceiling and sip the warm coke Emil had given me to settle my stomach. The ancient wall of the temple was cool behind my head and I wondered what had transpired in this room through the ages. What kinds of rituals and initiations had gone on here? Who served? Who suffered? Who lived to praise the Goddess another day?

I turned my attention to the ceiling, letting go of the pain in my body. The ceiling mural was still somewhat colorized. Different hues of blue still partially covered the stone. Part of the mural depicted Hathor surrounded by the rays of the sun. The rays were represented by carved triangles arranged in a pyramid shape around the Goddess. The stars of the sky were also present. They looked like little asterisks on a blue background.

Various tour groups entered the room as I was huddled in the corner. I learned this was the Divine Birthing room. The mural depicted the Goddess Nut swallowing the sun in the evening and giving birth to it in the morning.

I sat there with my head against the ancient wall staring at the stars on the ceiling, wondering what I was birthing. I could feel the presence of the Goddess all around me. She was beckoning me to relax into me. To melt into myself. To feel who I truly am – my power, my authority, my True Self, my expression. And I felt it, this energy, my energy. It was so calm but SO strong.

I could feel the energy coming off me in waves, emanating from me as if I were giving off my own light and heat; my own special brand of sunshine. And isn’t that what we do when we bring our gifts out into the world?

The energy was so strong. It made my head feel light. I kept breathing down through my feet to stay grounded. The Goddess was with me. I could feel two sets of hands over my heart chakra and another at my throat. She was showing me how safe it is to be in my heart, telling me this is where my true wisdom comes from; my authentic expression, my love and my joy.

This energy was all knowing. It encompassed the entire emotional spectrum. Here I was so vulnerable as to bare my throat to be slashed while simultaneously being so powerful I was invincible. From this state, I could tell you anything, bare my soul and not be concerned about judgment or condemnation. I felt completely blissful; knowing I had everything I needed. This was freedom!

The Goddess was holding me gently and lovingly. She was bringing me to my own wisdom. She was telling me this is the state I need to write from. From that love and joy, I could connect with my truth and trust, with my courage and contentment, with my bliss. From here I could reach the hearts and souls of others to rejoice in our sameness and our differences.

She was also showing me how strong my mental body is and that I needed to relinquish control. Stop thinking and start feeling. I had believed that all my safety was in my mental body and I didn’t feel safe outside it. Goddess had to take me to my core to show me true safety is in the heart.

It wasn’t until later that I realized I’d been baptized at the temple of love and joy. By pouring that water over my head outside the temple, Emil had symbolically prepared me to open to receive love and joy in a whole new way. By letting go of pain and fear and opening my heart to love and joy, I had passed my initiation.

I created a meditation from this experience. It’s designed to help you create from your love and joy. You can find it here on my web site, CasazzaWriting.com. It’s a free download. A gift from my heart and the heart of the Goddess to you.

Corinne’s novel, Walk Like an Egyptian is available at Amazon.com or from Llumina Press.

Check out Corinne’s Facebook Fan Page for tips for beginning writers.

Follow Corinne on Twitter @CorinneCasazza

Visit Corinne’s Web site: http://www.CasazzaWriting.com

A Yellow Portulaca OR Follow the Signs

November 21, 2012

You may have heard me say when I don’t know what happens next, I write description. Description should be lyrical and visual. It should not only include what’s palpable to the five senses, but also what feelings it evokes in your main character(s). Used in this way, setting becomes a character itself.

As I thought about this tip, a memory from writing Walk Like an Egyptian came to mind. I was describing my father’s garden at home in Boston where I grew up. I talked about the gray cement fence that was a barrier between our yard and the neighbors behind us. My Dad has a very green thumb and every inch of our yard was planted with vegetables, herbs and flowers. The fence was no exception. It had holes in the top of it. My Dad filled the holes with dirt and planted portulacas there. They sprouted up multi-colored from the top of the wall for all to see. Portulacas are small flowers that come in a rainbow of colors.

After I finished this description, I walked out of my house in Sedona to pick up my mail. I walked past a large cement flower pot that was at the top of my fence. As I walked by, I thought I saw a yellow flower in the pot. I did a double take. I had never planted anything there and had never seen anything grow there.

I looked into the planter again and rubbed my eyes. There, in the middle of this previously empty flower pot, was a single yellow portulaca! I couldn’t believe it. I even went so far as to go back inside and Google the flower to be sure I remembered it correctly.

Yup. There was a yellow portulaca in my flower pot! I took that as a sign that my story was progressing in the right direction. The Universe can give us some pretty unmistakable signs if we are paying attention. So… keep writing and look for those signs around you that tell you you’re on the right track.

Corinne’s novel, Walk Like an Egyptian is available at Amazon.com or from Llumina Press.

Check out Corinne’s Facebook Fan Page for tips for beginning writers.

Follow Corinne on Twitter @CorinneCasazza

Visit Corinne’s Web site: http://www.CasazzaWriting.com

Go Within to Manifest Outwardly

October 31, 2012

Corinne L. Casazza

If you want things to change, go within. There’s a Universal law that states once things change on the inner, they MUST change on the outer. This means when you go into meditation, and make a shift internally, your outer world MUST shift to match.

Here’s my experience of how it works. I fill my sphere (aura, body and the space around it) with all that I want to manifest in my life – particularly those situations or qualities I feel are missing.

Last week I was having difficulty speaking my truth and being my own authority. I hate confrontation – who doesn’t? Still, it’s necessary to stand up for ourselves and speak our truth. I went into meditation and filled my sphere with the qualities I felt surrounding in this situation: being valued, trusted, respected, speaking with authority and owning my truth, with a capital T.

To fill your sphere, all you have to do is relax, quiet your mind, pay attention to your breathing and think of these qualities. Say them silently to yourself. Most importantly, feel what it feels like to be these things. I felt the energy of being loved, valued, trusted and respected. I felt the energy of being an authority. I sat and reveled in that energy. It felt great.

What happened in my outer life? I was speaking to a friend about something he said that I didn’t like or agree with. Another friend overheard and told me, “Wow, Corinne, you said that with authority.” I had to smile. My outer world was reflecting back these inner changes; the qualities that I filled my sphere with were manifesting. As for the friend I spoke my truth to, he was very respectful, loving and even nurturing for the rest of the time we spent together. Gotta love that!

I know this is a small example, but it’s just the most recent one. I began this practice by filling my sphere with gratitude. The first week I did this, three people at work wrote to my Vice President to tell her how great I am to work with and how happy they are that I’m on the team – yup, they expressed gratitude in a big way.

This stuff works! It has to; it’s Universal law! It works for everything: big or small. I invite you to try it for yourself. I use this practice nightly before bed. You can fill your sphere with anything – call forth what you choose to manifest. Sit in it and really feel the energy, then watch your life change! Write to me and tell me what you created.

Corinne’s novel, Walk Like an Egyptian is available at Amazon.com or from Llumina Press.

Check out Corinne’s Facebook Fan Page for tips for beginning writers.

Follow Corinne on Twitter @CorinneCasazza

Visit Corinne’s Web site: http://www.CasazzaWriting.com