Taking the Leap


I started my writing career by documenting the humanitarian journeys of women of African descent. That was a fulfilling time in my life. What I enjoyed the most were the interviews, listening to these women open up about their lives and their quests to leave their mark on the men, women, and children they sought to impact. It is no wonder that in recent months, I have found myself missing that experience of storytelling. 

So when the thought kept coming up, again and again, to seriously pursue ghostwriting, I did not hesitate. After giving it much thought, praying about it and accepting it as a viable addition to the services I would like to provide, I took the leap. And tell you what: I had barely put it out there when I started receiving requests for my ghostwriting services.

To cut a long story short, ghostwriting is now one of the services we provide at The Brielle Agency. The services will focus on nonfiction (such as, memoirs, business/entrepreneurial journeys, and self-help). I am excited about the new road that lies ahead and I look forward to successfully telling some very impactful stories and meeting and interviewing some really interesting people along the way. As much as I love editing, I find that what I love most is the skill of storytelling; using words to create images of a person's life, portraying their challenges and spurring people to action through their triumphs. I know this to be the aspect of writing and editing that leaves a greater impact on my life (and purpose) and in the world at large. So I look ahead with hope for a new chapter in The Brielle Agency story. Contact nicole@thebrielleagency.com if you would like to discuss a book you have burning deep inside you. 

Did you know that there are different kinds of book editors? And that depending on the stage of your work, there are different editors who are skilled to help you at each stage? Copy editors are your grammar police. They check for spelling and grammar, punctuation and style. Line editors are your most-hated, red-pen wielding teachers. They go through your manuscript line by line, marking off your page and hurting your feelings. They are also the ones who tell you if certain sentences and paragraphs don't make sense, or if you are overusing a particular word or phrase. In most cases, a line editor doubles as a copy editor. Developmental editors, on the other hand, are entirely different types of editors. Developmental editors help writers who are struggling to gather their thoughts before and during the writing process. They are very useful in cases where a writer has a story in theory but is struggling to put the pieces together on paper, and can't seem to find a starting point. If this is you, here are 5 reasons why you might want to consider hiring a developmental editor:

Before I decide to take on a new manuscript, I first ask to review the first few pages. This is typically either the first chapter or the prologue (if there’s one). I do this because these first few pages are the most important parts of any manuscript that comes across my desk. It lets me know whether the writer has 1) self-edited, 2) paid close attention to hooking their readers, and 3) understands the essence of the story they wish to tell.  The beginning is always the most important part of any storytelling process, whether it is a work of nonfiction, fiction, self-help, a movie script, or a play script. Here are a few reasons why you should pay close attention to the opening lines of your manuscript:

Here at The Brielle Agency, we are always looking for new ways to help our clients on their journey to publication and success, which is why the editor-author relationship does not end once a manuscript has gone through the editing stages. We keep in touch, see how we can help on the journey to publication, and help spread the word as soon as the book is published. And this is why we have updated our portfolio page with individualized entries for each book we edited that has made it to publishing and online sales. 

Where: Virtual (write wherever you are). A private Facebook group will be set up for participants to post updates, do daily check-ins, and to keep the rest of the team motivated and encouraged. 
When: October 1, 2016 to January 1, 2017. (Because serious writers don't know what holidays are. Yes we'll be writing our way through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all holidays, so that we have something to toast to come New Year's Day!)
Why: Because our stories need to be told. We want our stories to be told.
Who: Serious writers who have already began working on a manuscript but find themselves stuck, unmotivated, and uninspired to go on. Participants must be hungry to come to the end of their story. 
What: I am looking for FIFTEEN (15) serious writers to join me on this 90-day writing challenge. The goal of the Write & Sip challenge is to complete an unfinished manuscript in the next 90 days. 
How: We will commit to writing for an hour every day for the next 90 days. The goal is to complete an unfinished manuscript. There must be no editing or revisions along the way; just free-style writing. Write the most error-ridden book (typos and all) you have ever written. We will worry about revising and editing once we have the full story on paper. At the end of the challenge, those who make it will start the self-editing challenge (part 2 of the challenge. Details coming later). At the end of the self-editing challenge, The Brielle Agency will offer free sample-edits and manuscript reviews to assess how ready your book is for publication. 

Last week I shared a Shonda Rhimes video with my readers because I could not focus on writing an inspirational post. As I was reflecting on why; I found that I was feeling a little drained by my life. Juggling several roles in the span of a few hours will do that to anyone. So today I decided to share with you a few things I came up with that helped me survive the rest of the week. This may or may not apply to your current situation, but I'm sure there are areas of your life where some of these lessons may still be helpful. 

The managing editor of The Brielle Agency, Nicole Twum-Baah, has joined the writing staff of Christian Community News Magazine, a print magazine managed by Woodstock-based food pantry, Papa's Pantry. The magazine features family-friendly, Christian issues and faith-based articles, and is published on a bi-monthly basis. For more about CCN Magazine, visit their website at https://issuu.com/papaspantry
Yes, I dared to go there. Many self-publishers pride themselves on the fact that they did not have to hire a professional editor to edit their work and yet, still came out on top. By coming out on top, they usually mean writing and publishing a book, be it an e-book or its print version. And while those two things are indeed admirable feats, what many self-publishers don't realize is that almost anyone today can call themselves a successful published author, and readers are still looking for quality.

What Makes a Good Read?
A good book, if written well and edited properly, must connect with readers on an emotional level. There must be something in the book that hooks the reader from the minute they open the first page and until the last page has been flipped shut. A good editor can guide a writer through the process of what works well and what doesn't. View your editor as your test reader and worst critic, whose only job is to make you look good. I have read some really well-written and amazing self-published works
, just as well as I have read some horrifyingly bad ones. (Let it also be known that not all traditionally published works are first-rate either.) And each time, the difference between the good and the bad has always been that one was professionally edited while the other was not.

When Self-Editing is Not Enough

Many writing forums argue that professional editing is not necessary as long as a writer can self-edit several times before publication. What is missing in this well-meaning advice is the fact that publishing a good book is not just about catching incorrect grammar and spelling errors, and even if it was, self-editing doesn't always catch all the errors. Besides that, professional editing is about structure, tone, voice, character development and so much more - something a professional editor can help bring to light. A book that reads like your first draft is not what readers want to read. They want a story that reflects care, talent, voice, emotion and so much more. An editor can help get you there.

A Beautiful Marriage
A good professional editor is the partner you need on your journey through the writing process. They are your professional coach, cheerleader, friend, confidante, and adviser all rolled up into one, and their main responsibility is to make sure you sound like your best possible self. A good professional editor knows about the publishing process, is a ferocious reader, most likely a writer too, and can offer the support authors need to make it from blank page to print.

Regardless of whether you choose to use a professional editor or not, remember that before all good
reads go out to the reading public, they must go through a series of mills. Self-publishers often skip over these processes in an effort to either cut costs, satisfy their burning desire to get published, cut out what they see to be an unnecessary middle (wo)man, avoid criticism of their work, or for fear that a third-party edit will dilute their voice. However, any good editor worth his or her salt will know how to work with an author to address those fears and to maintain the integrity of the author's work. A good editor is there to help authors and not to hurt them, to make them better. And as an author, it is your responsibility to hire someone you can trust to deliver their best possible work. Your readers deserve the best from you, and trust me, they will remember if they don't get it. So, unless you plan on being a one-time author, you might want to consider your readers, for they will tell you in no uncertain terms the second time around, what they could not tell you before they went out and bought a copy of your first book. Allow them to trust your work as an author by giving them your best work the first time around, and they will be loyal to you throughout your writing life. Plus, you never know what opportunities are passing you by because you neglected to put care into your book. You never know who's going to pick

Do you have questions? Please feel free to ask them in the comments below, or send us an email at service@thebrielleagency.com.
Two weeks ago, I was on vacation, having some much needed girlfriend time away from home, when I was introduced to a friend of my friend's at a church event. Of course, as expected, we got to chatting, and all seemed to be going well until I was asked what I do and I hesitated.

You see, I've always had a difficult time calling myself a writer. I want to say it's because writing is not my primary source of income, but that would be a lie. I know deep down that it's because I don't believe I've earned the title; even though I have written several articles for publication, maintained an online magazine for 5 years, maintained a blog for over 8, writing was a part of my responsibilities at my former employer's, and it's what I now do full time. The truth is, I hesitate to call myself a writer because I am yet to be affirmed by a major publishing house. It's the struggle most unpublished writers go through, so I know I'm not alone, but it still bothers me because I don't need that kind of affirmation in order to own my "writer" status. My readers already know me as a writer and they are the ones who count the most.

But still, the incident had me thinking of all the ways we sell ourselves short when we wait for someone in "authority" to tell us we're good enough, when we already know that we are. We all struggle with affirmation in some area of our lives. Whether it's waiting for someone to tell us that we're smart enough, pretty enough, or creative enough, we need to learn what I learned: If we accept our own truths, others will too. Having the acknowledgment of someone in authority should only be considered icing on the cake. In the meantime, start baking the cake and showing it off proudly, with or without the icing.

I hope you start thinking about all the ways in which you hesitate to own your creativity, and remember that you only sell yourself short when you do so. Of course, also remember that just because you say you are does not mean that you are if you have nothing to show for the fact that you are.

Have a blessed and fruitful week ahead!
Let's face it, writing is a difficult task for many. My writing life is no different. It takes discipline, perseverance and lots and lots of patience. You're probably having the same problem. Perhaps you've been staring at a blank screen/sheet of paper for months. You probably have a title or you don't, but either way you're stuck and can't seem to move forward. Here are a few tips to get you started on your journey forward.

Believe in your story: In order to give your story a voice and bring it alive, you must first believe in your own story. If you don't then you'll have difficulty trying to put words on paper for fear that no one else will believe it.

Believe your story is worth telling: Every story is worth telling, and every story has its reader. So know that once your story is told, it will find its way to those it was meant for. You just have to give them something.

Reading is key: Read for inspiration. Read for style and voice. Read for lessons - to know what you like and don't like. Then find your own unique voice and own it. The best piece of writing is the one told in your own voice.

Pay attention to that tug: Don't ignore that yearning tugging on your heartstrings. It is the one voice you must listen to. All others are just outside noise.
Just write: If all else fails, just sit down and write a starter sentence. You'll be amazed at how the story will flow from there. Stories have a life of their own, and they will lead you where you need to go.

Write everyday: Once you get started, be sure to add a little to the story everyday. Then be sure to stick to it until you have a final draft - no matter how rough it is. Editors exist for a reason.

If all else fails, seek outside help. A writing coach can help you get started, and a ghostwriter can help write your story if you can't seem to find the time or lack the skills it takes to get it done. Whatever you do, no matter how you choose to tell your story, know that your story is valid and there is someone out there waiting to read it.

Have a blessed and fruitful week ahead!