Copywriting - My Education
I’ve actually been studying this for a couple of years because that’s how I learn things. I thought I was a great writer, but a quick comparison of my work between now and a few years ago reveals this is a path rather than a destination.
I have to start off thanking a few people who taught me the craft of writing. They won’t know my name, but in no particular order I’ve studied with AWAI, Nick Usborne, Clayton Makepeace, John Cororan, Jeff Walker, Danny Iny, Mel Abraham, Dean Graziosi and a few I’m forgetting. I doubt you would have heard of any of these people unless you are into copywriting or marketing. The lessons on habits to form and message delivery are invaluable.
I’m not really following their advice too much when it comes to the marketing, but I’m having fun. I’ll have some more content to play with soon.
There are a couple of blogs I’m following that I find helpful. Write to done, Zen Habits, White Buffalo are a couple.
As far as content, there are a couple of authors I’m kind of into lately. Al Miner, Lee Strobel are a couple.
There are also tools that I’m finding useful. Hostgator.com and WordPress are fun to play with. I’m also using Landingpages and adweber.
I’m going to be busy for a while working on my delivery. I’ll be sending out updates every now and again. If you’re still reading this,you have an interest in writing. Questions or comments,
I’ve written a couple of blogs about Spiritual Gifts. These gifts I talked about using in day to day life, but they are also the kind of tools one can use to build character. But they are not the only tools available. There is fame, for instance.
In my line of work I meet people who’s sole goal in life is to be famous. There is money in fame, you know. When I was deciding on a path to walk, my perspective then was fame had too many compromises to purse as a life. My life now has seen validation of that view. In fact, the way I look at it now, fame is less of a tool and more of a test of character.
Honor and duty might be better examples of character building tools and they go hand in hand with community. The Marine Corps is built on honor and duty. If you do a good job, you get advanced in that community with promotions. Marines are built the way they are because of the tests they face.
That’s the whole reason for shaping character, don’t you think? So one can be prepared for the tests of life? I think that is one of the best aspects of writing. I get to build the character of the people in my book and then test them. Sort of the same reason I like acting, but when I write I get to create the stage as well.
With historical fiction, however, the stage is set and maybe some of the major players. Then it becomes important to create a character that would explain the historical actions of the player. If there is a historical event it’s great to use that as a setting, but not such a good idea to use that as the test of character. I mean, for it to mean something in a novel, the result of the test should have some effect on the outcome, right? Which would mean my fictional character had an effect on a historical event.
Of course, the only reason to have rules is to break them.
In the story I wrote I was amazed to discover research. By that I mean there is not a lot of actual historical material from the period I chose to write about. What I was looking for was daily life kind of things. And I chose to write about the Romans and they set a new standard in record keeping. What is fun is the level of detail found in what records exist. The research material were more pages than the finished book.
What I did was create a player very successful in his world with a respected, solid character. I then had him face something he was unprepared for. I’m not giving a spoiler even though you know most of the story line, but now I’m thinking about how the test faced affects the character developed.
There’s another book.
I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It’s easy. Just click “Edit Text” or double click me to add your own content and make changes to the font. Feel free to drag and drop me anywhere you like on your page. I’m a great place for you to tell a story and let your users know a little more about you.
This is a great space to write long text about your company and your services. You can use this space to go into a little more detail about your company. Talk about your team and what services you provide. Tell your visitors the story of how you came up with the idea for your business and what makes you different from your competitors
I like writing historical fiction. It saves a lot of time creating the universe where the plot can develop. One can even choose a time and place that has easy parallels. Even a story that’s been told so many times it’s familiar can be fertile ground. I mean, really, what makes a good story? Well, here’s how my story starts.
A march in the countryside in the early fall is not all bad—at least in a civilized country. Ceconi looked down at the fur draped across his saddle. Won’t be that kind of winter. Good! He smiled to himself. He was tired of cold weather. And he had been as far north as civilization was allowed by winter.
Since the centuria had left Naples, the countryside was mostly fallow fields, grazing livestock, vineyards, and farmlands growing wheat and olives. Ceconi could not help but think this is what a civilized countryside should look like! They passed several fields being harvested. The closer they got to Rome, the greater the possibility that they would pass through Senator Therien’s lands. Ceconi could never be sure because the Senator was still buying lands.
Senator Therien was of the senate class and had been elected a Senator. Rome was divided into many classes of people along economic lines; the wealthiest was the senate class, the poorest proletarii. As long as Rome had been a republic there was a body of Senators elected from the senate class˗˗the highest governing body. But after the civil war of Marc Anthony and Cleopatra, Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus turned Rome into an empire and the Senate into a rubber stamp body. His successor was Caesar Tiberius, who had ruled after the death of Augustus twelve years before.
Senator Therien was a rich man under both Augustus and Tiberius. His father owned several ships and was also a merchant. While Therien waited to inherit the business, he started farming. At the spillway of his dam holding the irrigation pond, he put in a water wheel and millstone. Soon he was making the products his father was shipping, and Therien’s scope continued to grow.
Ceconi’s father, Degaust, came to work for Therien after selling him his family farmlands. It was in the shipping business that a talent for bookkeeping was unleashed in Degaust. Now he owned more land than he ever would have farming and would surely retire an equestrian, the class below the senate.
Another thing about traveling in a civilized place is the condition of the roads. The centuria had made great time since disembarking in Naples. Ceconi had made the right choice in marching over the countryside rather than wait the three days before the ships left. The ships were still in Naples and it would not be long before he and his men could see Rome. And the horses needed the work since sailing from Germania.
The parade grounds were on the next horizon when the mounted hunters rode back. There were two men in Ceconi’s centuria who were from Germania. They were not so good with swords, but both were great archers and used very long bows. Ceconi had not left them alone and assigned two mounted archers to be with them. His horsemen learned how to hunt in the northern forests and adopted the longer bows. The Germanians had learned to be Roman soldiers.
Together they kept the centuria fed in venison and other game of the forest. They would not hunt in uniform. They usually wore leather and Ceconi allowed it as long as there were always two of them together, but today they were not hunting. To see two of his men in uniform riding up with those long bows looked wrong. Still, they earned their keep, so nothing was said.
“Senator Therien has received your message.” The hunter fell in line beside Ceconi when no halt was called.
“His response?” Ceconi continued to take in the countryside.
“He said, ‘Tell him my guests and I await his arrival’.”
“Those were his words?” Ceconi now studied the hunter.
“From his mouth.” Ceconi wondered how the hunter had actually gotten to see the Senator, but thought better than to ask about it. Probably had something to do with those bows. It had been a long journey and he had other plans for the evening. Still, it did not take long to adjust. Senator Therien was not a man to keep waiting.
“Take your place.” The hunter turned and fell in line with the rest of the horsemen, joined by his partner. Ceconi looked to his left to his optio, second in command, riding next to him.
“I take it duty calls you away from your time with your wife?” Second looked over to Ceconi.
“Let’s go find a campsite.” Ceconi spurred his mount from behind the front line and went ahead of the men. Second looked to his left at the signifer, holding the golden eagle standard of the centuria on his mount. Beside him rode the centuria’s tesserarius, Thyron, the commander of the guards and third in command of the unit.
“Prepare the men.” Second sounded like he was barking.
“For what?” Thyron felt a set-up. The signifer looked somewhat amused.
“I’ll tell you when you get there. You’re in charge. Don’t make any decisions.” Second spurred his horse to follow Ceconi.
When Ceconi crossed the creek at the bottom of the hill, he saw that there had set up sleeping tents under the tree line. A meal was being prepared in a wagon. It was basically what Romans ate on the march, a soup of whatever was brought in and bread. He saw the meat was from market and the bread was fresh. There were times in the past several years when his men would have thought this a meal fit for a King. As for now, Ceconi knew his men would be eating their best meal in months tonight.
He rode up the hill to the parade grounds and saw a centuria of about eighty men practicing three deep maneuvers. They looked like they were playing with spacing, but they were moving uphill. This is the way large groups fought in open fields. I bet the centurion this commander answers to is proud of this group’s work, thought Ceconi.
On the frontier the legions were flanked by auxilia, a group of regular troops mostly pulled from the peregrini. These were imperial subjects that did not have citizenship. Away from the frontier legions were almost never together in full strength but were deployed according to the local needs. There were a total of twenty-five legions in the empire.
The legions were commanded by legati legionis, and these generals reported to the legatus Augusti pro praetore, or the provincial governor. The governor reported directly to the Emperor. The legions were broken up into cohorts commanded by a centurion, and cohorts were broken into as many as ten centuria, commanded by a centurion of a lower grade. This was Ceconi’s command post.
In battle with a full legion, his centuria would be given a section of the battle line and the maneuvers would be like those Ceconi was watching. It took another centuria to cover the flanks. And he thought he wouldn’t have to give an order for his men to know how to take the men he was watching. His men had learned to fight and count on each other as a unit alone.
The officers were behind the lines of men giving orders. Second had crossed the creek right after Ceconi and now rode beside him as the commanding officers were approached. There was one horse being held by a soldier and an officer with a centurion’s cape stood near by. He paused giving marching orders to look at Ceconi and Second riding up.
“This your command?” Ceconi asked the centurion, who was well dressed with hinged armor plate.
“It is.” He had a way of being a bit self-impressed. Must come from money, Ceconi thought. That’s one of the attractions of the legions for Ceconi. Deeds matter more than wealth. Ceconi acted on what he believed.
“Who are you?” Ceconi asked.
“I am Porticus, and we defend the southern line.” There had not been an attack on Rome from the south in years, and if the entire southern line were deployed at the same time, they would not be legion strong. But the troops there put on quite a show during certain festivals.
‘Tell your men to vacate. We will be camping here.” Ceconi turned to Second.
“And who are you?” The centurion’s tone had gone from self-impressed to downright condescending.
Ceconi didn’t want to take the time. “My optio might be willing to answer your questions after I’m gone.”
“We are in the middle of a training exercise for our upcoming deployment. And I’m to stop it now on the word of a man I do not know?” Oh, Mithras! Now righteous indignation! Ceconi dismounted as Second looked around for signs of the rest of their company. Ceconi walked up close enough to Porticus that no one else could hear.
“I’ll have this area or I’ll have your head; then I’ll have this area! Either way, when my men arrive they camp here. It’s just a matter of the order of things. You get to decide.” Ceconi stepped back and looked at Porticus as he mulled the words. The standard of Ceconi’s centuria was now visible over the hill, and a moment later the horsemen. Thyron broke ranks into a gallop as soon as he saw the group ahead. Ceconi’s centuria had about one hundred twenty men and fifty horsemen as they crested the hill.
Porticus turned to his optio. “Tell the men to return to camp immediately.” Ceconi walked to his horse and mounted, looking at Second who seemed greatly relieved.
“We camp here. I’ll be back.” Ceconi spurred his mount as Thyron rode up.
I like studying history because you find stories too outrageous to write as fiction. I also like the small stories of big characters because there is the insight as to who they were.
A great example is Teddy Roosevelt. He was born into wealth, but that was not the biggest influence on his character. I’m not going into detail because a friend of mine has already done that work. I’ve known JT Fusco for a few years now and he’s starting a new direction with podcasts. He began with a 10 episode series on Teddy and he did a great job letting you get to know the man. It’s worth looking into, believe me.
It is also the way I like to write historical fiction. It’s all about the story of individuals going through a big moment in history. Though in my fiction, the characters usually have no idea they are living in such a moment. In Teddy’s case, he created the moment. A different point of view, and that’s about as good as it gets, right? Expansion of perspective is a good thing in my experience.
Good job, JT. Keep ‘em coming.
Another avenue of writing is travel writing. Since my wife and I love to travel and she loves to take pictures, it seems natural to write about it. I will be posting things about travel in the coming days. There will be things about Atlanta, the town I live in, plus trips we make. Working on a trip we took to St John, for instance. Here is a rough draft of what I wrote about a trip to Florida year or so ago.
The People of Amelia Island
One visit is not enough.
My wife had a friend come into the States, close enough that a catch-up visit was in order. Friend was staying in a house on Amelia Island, so off we went. It’s about a six hour drive from Atlanta. The trip was going to be all about people rather than destination, but I had no idea the wonder of the folks we would meet. It was late Friday afternoon before we pulled into Fernandina Beach.
We stayed at a friend of Friends who lives near the Fairbanks House, a B&B that is a mansion with a historical marker out front. It looks like the place to stay to help get in touch with the character of the island. You can walk the couple of blocks to a busy downtown on neighborhood streets. A return trip will have us there.
My wife and Friend met in the Caribbean working on St. John in the hospitality industry. Friend still lives in the islands, though the place where they worked is no more. The stories they told of those days made me want to be there. While my wife and Friend caught up, I got to know the owner of the house, the amazing Queen Tug. I doubt she would be offended if I call her that.
Queen raised her family for twenty some odd years on ocean going tugboats. She is a keyboard master, playing for churches while on land. She’s been in magazine articles and I don’t know many people who have musicians record a song about them. Every time you walk through a room in her house you see something you hadn’t noticed before. You know everything there has a story attached. She is the fourth owner of the house built in the 1800’s. Queen’s neighborhood is full of houses like hers, and that’s not even the part of the island they call Old Town.
Her neighborhood is called the Historic Section, where the gathering places are front porches and sidewalks. Met a wonderful lady walking her dog as we walked to breakfast at T-Rays. She knew where that was. The locals are easy to pick out and tend to know where everything is, happy to share information. Later we saw her again, and she asked us how breakfast tasted. That lead to a conversation about lunch and we were off to Timoti’s Seafood Shack, after more talk about her island. She told us the oldest hand-knotted net factory is still there, they just don’t make many shrimp nets anymore. It’s all about sports nets now days. It’s getting a visit next trip. Bet there are some stories within those walls. Brunch before coming home was at Jack and Diane’s. A disappointing meal was not on the island during our weekend.
Went on a tour boat ride with Amelia River Cruises and Charters. The captain was quick to point out the dolphins, manatees, alligators, wild horses, and interesting birds. We saw wild horses when the cruise took us to the Carnage ruins on Cumberland Island. Captain struck me as fully competent, happy to show off piloting skills while retrieving an overboard flip-flop. The tour guide was also fully competent with local knowledge on just about everything we saw. Guide pointed out more wildlife, industries that were and are, and the abundant Captain Budwisers. That’s how Guide referred to the weekend boaters.
There is so much we didn’t have time to explore in just one weekend. The fort, a walk on the pier, maybe a carriage ride through Old Town, definitely beach time next visit. We didn’t get to The Crab Trap, but it looked and smelled like a meal that’s good enough reason to return by itself. I’m looking forward to that return to make more acquaintances, maybe even turn one into a friend. Most of all, I’m looking forward to hearing more stories from Queen Tug.