Sunday, August 5, 2012

We've Moved

Effective August 6, I have moved my blog to on WordPress. You can certainly read through previous posts here, but I will no longer post to this site.

Please jump on over to my new site and follow me there.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chicken Soup for the Soul Workshop

If you're interested in breaking into this market, here is a workshop to help. I'm attending and know it will give me what I need to complete a story I am working on for submission in August. 

Join us online in one week for Stirring the Pot: Writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Tracy and Marylane, authors of more than a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul stories, want to show you how to write for this popular series.

Stirring the Pot webinar will share valuable tips and strategies including:

  • What Chicken Soup looks for in a story
  • How to submit through the Chicken Soup online form
  • How to brainstorm story ideas
  • How to write stories that appeal to readers
  • How to use the writing process to your advantage
  • What to expect after submission
  • And much more . . .

This live webinar gives you the advantage of asking questions and immediately getting the answers you need to stir up a winning Chicken Soup story.
Go to the Write Life Workshops event page to learn more and to register for the Stirring the Pot July 31 webinar.

Take this opportunity to increase your chances of joining the thousands of writers who can say, “I have a story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul!”

Friday, July 20, 2012

Creating Memorable Characters, Part 11

Intercultural Differences Summary
In our diverse society, adding ethnicity to your story is natural. But by all means, AVOID STEREOTYPES. You can’t willy-nilly throw in characteristics about your story people because readers from that culture will spot your errors. If you have a Portuguese character that interacts with your bad guy, know whether Portugal is an individualistic or collectivist society. Is their communication direct or indirect, low-context or high-context?

Search on these words to discover the cultural differences of other countries: “intercultural communication [country of interest].” Or start with this site to learn more about the concepts I have discussed here, plus more:

Do the research and know the culture you are targeting.
Debra L. Butterfield © 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Creating Memorable Characters, Part 10

Space Invasion

An aspect of culture of which most people are aware is personal space. In America, our space bubble is big in comparison to cultures like India where there are so many people. To give you a visual, the population density of the US is 84 people per square mile. In India, it is 954 people per square mile. How might population density affect one’s personal space bubble?

Depending on the situation, a person who invades our space can make us feel uncomfortable in the least and terrified at worst. Even if there is no cultural difference between your protagonist and antagonist, you can use the concept of personal space to your advantage.

For a fun, 1:40 minute video that illustrates personal space, visit here: Be sure to watch all the way to the end to see how one man resolved having his personal space invaded. It may just give you the idea for which you’ve been looking for that scene that’s giving you fits.  

Personal space invasion. Use it to your advantage.
Debra L. Butterfield © 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Creating Memorable Characters, Part 9

The writer's challenge was fun, and I've been busy writing--everything but this blog. It's time to get back to the creating memorable characters series. As a reminder, we're discussing intercultural communication differences. 

Body Language and Slang
If you close your eyes during a meeting, what message are you sending your colleagues? Is that message universal? For a fun 8-question, eye-opening quiz visit

I hope you took a look at the quiz because it makes my point: body language meanings vary from country to country. Misinterpreted body language opens the door to miscommunication. For the fiction writer, this means the opportunity to advance the conflict between your protagonist and antagonist.

Slang suffers the same difficulties. I’m a big fan of British TV. Their slang for many activities is different from the slang in the US, as Harry Potter fans discovered. Slang also changes with the times. For example, in my younger days, the word “pimp” meant a prostitute’s boss. Nowadays pimp means to take something that’s plain and make it stylish and customized, as in "Pimp My Ride." When my son uses slang, I ask for clarification.

So why are body language and slang important?

Communication is sending messages, and there is more to the message than just words. If we misinterpret body language or slang we misunderstand the message.

Add spice to your story and new avenues of conflict by including characters from other cultures. But be sure to give your dialogue and characters authenticity by knowing cultural communication differences. 

Step outside your culture and have some fun.
Debra L. Butterfield © 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

It's Over

Today is the last day of Jeff Goins'15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge, and I'm a bit bummed. Besides being extremely helpful, this was fun! Will I be able to stick with these productive writing habits? There will be days I fall short, no doubt. But I am committed to moving forward and sticking with it.

The most helpful habit for me was establishing a set time to write. Getting up at 5 a.m. was hard. After an hour of writing, my head was just getting clear. After two hours, my brain was creating faster than my fingers could produce. Many times I kept writing when time allowed. When quitting did time arrive, I didn't want to stop. Now comes the time to follow through. To continue writing, to prioritize and finish what I started and move on to the next project.

What part of the challenge resonated with you? If you didn't participate, what part of writing is easiest or hardest for you? Share in the comments.

I am a writer.

You are a writer.

Let's encourage each other along the way.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lip-Reading Mom

Shanna Bartlett Groves

Shanna Bartlett Groves is on mission. A mission to bring words into the world of the hearing impaired.

Shanna is deaf. She began to lose her hearing after the birth of her first child. She now has three children, and just as her family has grown, her hearing loss has also progressed. She wears aids, but not the typical kind. Even with those aids, Shanna read lips or uses closed captioning when possible.

Much of our society is oblivious to the struggles of the hearing impaired. Why? I think it is because the disability is invisible. We see when someone is missing a limb or in a wheelchair. We visibly recognize that person has limitations. However, we can't see hearing loss. I may eventually notice someone wears hearing aids, but I've made the erroneous assumption that aids negate the disability. That's just not true.

Yes, hearing aids help people hear better. In other words, even with the use of aids, hearing isn't perfect, and there are still challenges. My father wore hearings aids in both ears. He hated going to restaurants—all the background noise made it nearly impossible to understand the conversation taking place at his own table. My mother complains of the same thing. She also says her own voice sounds like she's at the bottom of a well. Yes, all of today's technology makes life better for those who struggle with hearing loss, but it does not remove the challenges.

Through her blog and speaking ministry, Shanna is ministering to those with hearing loss, bringing greater awareness of the challenges, and campaigning for change in arenas that have not been responsive to the needs of those with hearing loss. Thank you, Shanna, for your tireless work.

Read Shanna's blog:
Find out more about her novel Lip Reader:
Read about and join her campaign to bring closed captioning to the Internet:

Debra L. Butterfield © 2012