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Vacation is a time relax and leave your work behind, right? Not so fast. If you’re a writer, you’ll always take a piece of your work with you wherever you go. That piece is your brain and it never stops thinking about the next writing project or interesting tidbit to add to a current one. While you shouldn't work on vacation, you also shouldn't ignore what pops into your mind when you're away, since it could pay off big when you get back home. So go ahead, have fun and enjoy your trip, but take along these important writing tools that may come in handy and make your getaway productive too.

A Pen and Notebook

Whether you’re lounging by the pool or travelling the countryside in a bus, a pen and notebook are a must on vacation. You can use them to journal about the scenery, the food you ate last night, your mood, the weather, or anything you care to reflect on. You might brainstorm for topics for your next article or book. Notebooks and pens are also fun for doodling and sketching, both which can usher in all kinds of ideas pertinent to your writing.

A Pocket-sized Notepad

If a journal is too cumbersome, slip a small notepad into your backpack or back pocket. You never know when a thought will strike that you can apply to your writing. A site you're visiting or an activity you're doing might trigger something as simple as how to finish that sentence you've been struggling with for weeks. Never be without a notepad, especially on vacation. A relaxed state of mind can be exactly when your brain does its best work.

Your Phone or Tablet

Did someone on vacation use an interesting expression you’ve never heard before? Would your travel destination make a good setting for a historical novel? Your phone or tablet are not only portable, they’ll give you the means to look up words, do quick research, and even take notes for later use in your writing. Be sure to download any apps that might be of use to your writing life while on vacation, like a note-taking, translation, or dictionary app.

Books to Read

No vacation is complete without a book to read. Reading doesn’t just help pass time while in a car or plane; it’s an excellent writing tool for improving your writing skills. Books are easy to transport, slipped into a carry-on or handbag. Or, bring an e-reader on vacation and take as many books as you’d like. For a list of must reads for writers this summer, check out these ideas.

Your Curiosity

Don’t let your mind go dull on vacation. In fact, travelling is the perfect scenario for igniting your curiosity. Take full advantage of your trip and ask unlimited questions. Curiosity spurs deep thinking and creativity, both which benefit your writing life. Let your curiosity kick into full gear while you're away. It will make the return home that much more productive.

Embrace your summer vacation and enjoy it to the full. Just don’t forget to pack the above writing tools to complete the trip and make it profitable too.

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img_0864Despite what anyone says, writing a book is never a solo endeavor. As a self-publisher and e-book author, I’m especially aware of the amount of help that goes into writing and publishing a book—and the thanks owed to each contributor. Which is why including a section for acknowledgments is so important.

That said, writing acknowledgments doesn’t necessarily come easily or naturally. Common questions include: How do you begin? Where should you place the acknowledgments? Who do you include? And will the section even get read?

For answers, follow these guidelines, and make this purposeful front matter, well, matter.

Who and What to Include in Acknowledgments

Before you begin writing the acknowledgments, reflect back on all the people who assisted with the book project—librarians and researchers, subject matter experts, other authors who offered opinions or direction, editors, critiquers, printers, publishing consultants, mentors, friends, and family members. Jot down everyone who helped. You can always go back and cross off those who played a small role. A brief note or word of gratitude may be enough thanks for minor contributors.

Now think of any organizations or other resources that played a part in writing your book. Maybe you spent a lot of time looking up records at the county historical society. Perhaps you visited the police department or another government agency for advice. Obviously, a bibliography might be the best place to credit books and periodicals, but it’s possible some held enough value that they deserve a spot in the acknowledgments section of your book too.

One word of caution: If you’re unsure whether a particular contributor wants to be mentioned in the acknowledgments, ask him or her first. Respect privacy concerns for anyone you interviewed or consulted who might not want the public exposure.

Organizing and Writing Acknowledgments

Once you have a list of all who contributed to your book project, it’s time to start writing. Here’s where you have to decide how you want to organize this section. There are no set rules. You can begin with the indispensable helpers—those you couldn’t have written the book without—or you can work your way toward the most important contributors.

When writing acknowledgments, some authors draft a collective thank you while others create separate descriptions of each contributor’s role. Either way is fine, as long as the section doesn't drag on for pages. Begin with a brief introduction followed by heartfelt, succinct gratitude. Avoid flowery language and rambling sentences. Instead, offer simple, straightforward details of how the contributor helped you. When it comes to writing acknowledgments, less is more.

Front Matter or Back Matter?

Traditional publishers typically place acknowledgments with the front matter, after the table of contents and preface but before the introduction. When the acknowledgments are exceptionally brief, they can even be included within the preface.

Of course, if you’re a self-publisher, you don’t have to follow traditional publisher guidelines. You might choose to place your thanks at the back of the book, before the other back matter. If your book already contains many pages of front matter (i.e., a lengthy preface and/or introduction, dedication, epigraph, etc.), putting the acknowledgments at the back of the book might make more sense.

A Book Section That’s Overlooked?

So do readers really read this section? The answer is yes—and no. Some readers don’t miss a page; others skip over front and back matter. If you want your acknowledgments read, make them stand out. These tips and reminders can help:

  • Place the acknowledgments where they’re most visible or likely to be read
  • Keep the section short, personal but professional, and to the point
  • Use an easy-to-read font
  • Edit, using another set of eyes
  • Read acknowledgments written by other authors for style and techniques that work

Without question, writing a book takes more than just the author to pull off successfully. The best way authors can express their gratitude and give back to all who helped—many of whom may not have been paid—is to include them in a section of acknowledgments. Done right, it’s a thank you that will never be forgotten.