Dear My 21 Year Old Self

Dear My 21 Year Old Self Rectangle

I am so proud that you are following your dreams and keep trying to push the status quo.  They say ‘nobody really takes you seriously until you are 25’ but you doing everything in your power to prove them wrong.  Unfortunately, though, this is true.  You won’t be taken seriously until you are 25.   But, every little thing you’re doing to try to prove them wrong will help you so much in the future.

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You’ve been working so hard on your book Alex and John’s Scientific Adventures and have done a great cost analysis of materials for printing.  Enjoy your book release party!  It’s coming up in a few months and will be a day to remember.

Be thankful for all everybody has done and will do for you.  You will be so humbled to reconnect with teachers from your elementary school days at your book release party and even more surprised to see that even though you were one person in a class of thirty in just one school year out of their teaching career, they still remember you, and care about you, and will even bring your old school projects for you to sign.

You have already started your MBA and I promise yes, one day, school does end.  I know you’re quite concerned.  And still, even though you aren’t yet 25 and taken seriously, you are building a great foundation for future success.

Little do you know, but by doing the cost analysis for your book, you realized how great of a tool Excel really is.  With your new financial background, you will become determined and decide to create your entire personal accounting system within Excel and will become an Excel expert.

Life isn’t always perfect though.  Where there are hills, there must also be valleys.  Remember to keep your head up through all of them and keep pushing on as you always do because one of those times, it will really pay off.

There will be times when you are so fed up with work, bored out of your mind at home, and just contemplating starting from scratch.  Keep pushing.  All of the hard work you’ve done along the way will pay off.  I know, people always say that, but it’s true!

You will bring a copy of your book and your personal finance spreadsheet to an interview for a job that you so desperately want because your current work situation is so stressful it’s made you physically ill.

And just when you are ready to give up, you’ll get a call back and you get the job that will allow you to really start enjoying your life.  All of the hard work you’re putting in along the way prior to turning 25 will pay off.

Be proud of the foundation you’ve built, your determination, and your positive attitude.  Never give up, always be humble, and take the skills you learn and use them to help others.

PS. I know you are so anxious to know if and when you will ever find someone you will fall in love with. Take a look around because the man of your dreams is right next to you but you won’t know who he is for a few more years.

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Editing Tips

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So, you have your story complete and you are ready to edit, but you don’t know where to look.

Firstly, edit your work before you send it to anyone else.  When you edit your work, be sure to make sure you stay in the same tense throughout your story.  Also, check to make sure your storyline fits into place.  If it doesn’t, change it up.  Once you are sure that your storyline is firm, check for the ‘juice.’  Every story needs to contain spice to gain interest and engage your reader.

Next, have others read your story.  You can start by either going to your target audience, or going to a third party.

If you choose to go to the target audience, ask them what they like about the story, what they didn’t like, what they wanted more of, if there are any new ideas that could take the story to the next level.  Sometimes it’s hard to write for an audience if you are not part of the audience yourself.  For example, we have all been children at a point in our lives, but how many of us can truly put ourselves back in those shoes and feel as passionately about something that to adults seems so small?  Children are great for adding the imagination and magic to stories.

By going to a third party, ask them to make sure your formatting is correct, you are using proper grammar, you don’t hinder too long on a part of the story that is not necessary, etc.  They can also answer the same questions as the audience.  Each editor will be coming from a different point of view, and will have something new to add to the piece, so seek out many people to edit your piece for you.  If you do not agree with something an editor is saying, don’t change it.  Ultimately, your voice is what needs to be shining through in the piece.

Did I use a professional editor?

No, I did not use a professional editor.  I had around ten people edit my story and I read my story to children in the age group for it.  One person who edited for me is great with the imagination and bringing the story to light.  Another, is great with grammar.  I have some who were good at catching formatting or other errors.  Without each different editor, I would have missed out on improving in one or more of these areas.

Would I recommend using a professional editor?

I can’t say yes or no to this question.  There are positives and negatives to it, as there is to everything in life.  An up-side is that you know your work is in good hands and will be edited very thoroughly.  However, hiring a professional editor has its financial costs and could be straining on a strict budget.   Also, if you are hiring a professional, are you hiring a team or an individual?  You still want to make sure you are getting a variety of editors from different reading backgrounds because your audience will all be coming from different backgrounds.

Other thoughts:

Do not rush your editing.  It may take fifteen edits before your piece is ready to move forward, but it will be worth it to be patient and put as much in as you can.  Plus, it’s better to catch any issues before you start preparing your work to be finalized.

Do not take offense to the feedback you receive.  The feedback is a way for you to improve and make your story more memorable.  Everyone has room for improvement, and the best opportunity is when someone shows you where those areas are.

Thank your editors.  You can do this any way you would like. You could give them a gift certificate, write them an appreciative letter, mention them in your book, etc.  With the AJSA series, I’ve chosen to mention my editors in the book to show my appreciation.

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Writing Styles and Editing Your Book

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After finishing your story outline, you are ready to write your first rough draft.  This is where knowing your audience is really important.Let’s say I was writing about a bouncing ball.  Watch how the simple story ideas change as the audience changes.  Can you guess who the audience is?

I love to be outside.  I eat outside, I run outside, and I play outside.  I like to play with my ball outside.  I throw the ball in the air.  It comes down and bounces up real high.  I like to play with my ball outside.

One day, Isacc and Naveah were playing catch in their backyard.  Naveah threw the ball to Isacc so hard that it almost knocked him over.  Since Isacc didn’t want to be hit with the ball again, he came up with another idea.  They were going to have a competition to see who could throw the ball the highest!  Isacc took the ball and threw it as high as he could.  When the ball came down, Naveah caught it and threw it up to see how high she can throw.  On the way down, the ball hit the ground and bounced back up as high as the top of the tree.  Both children laughed and they continued throwing the ball high into the air.

There are many benefits to young children playing with bouncy balls.  They can learn hand-eye coordination and depth perception, as well as shape and color recognition.  Additionally, they will learn sharing skills by interacting with other children and the balls. 

According to Newton’s first law of motion, an object needs to have an external force exerted upon it in order for the object to be set into motion.  The object then uses kinetic energy while it is moving, and when the object returns to its motionless state, it is said to have potential energy.  For example, a ball sits on the floor.  At this point, it has potential energy.  Then, Jimmy picks up the ball and bounces it.  Jimmy provides the external force, which comes from him bouncing the ball.  While the ball is bouncing, it is using moving energy, or kinetic energy.

Did you say that the first example was for toddlers and early readers?  Or that the second was for elementary aged children?  How about the third being geared towards parents?  Or the last being geared towards students, teachers, or researchers?

Things to Remember

For children’s picture books, the main purpose is to have the story be a learning experience for the child.  The child will use the book as a guide towards how the world works.  There is always something, whether physical or moral, to be learned.

For children’s chapter books, the main purpose is to encourage the child to read.  To do this, you need to make reading fun.  Children this age love adventure, mysteries, and being able to pretend they are in the character’s shoes.  Make sure to add a lot of extra description to the main story line to peak your reader’s interest.

When writing for adults, remember to maintain a certain level of professionalism and respectability.  Try not to use slang in your writing as it makes others more skeptical.  At this point, your audience is completely capable of pulling out hidden meanings and translating metaphors.  Use less description or ‘juice’ as you would for a children’s chapter book because the adult likes to be able to create the fantasy in their head.  Leaving a little for mystery is a good thing; just make sure not to overdo it.  You still need to have your story line firm.

Lastly, when writing for research and learning purposes, use a guide to ensure that you are formatting your work correctly.  Each piece of educational literature has a rhyme and a reason for how it is done.  Make sure to research enough before you attempt to create your piece.  Don’t forget to maintain professionalism in your writing as your target audience is adults.

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