Sunday, July 05, 2009

 

Bringing out your influences

One of the joys I find about blogging and writing is being able to take a subject in countless different directions. As we all know, writing is more often than not a solitary endeavor. Blogging (especially when no one comments) can sometimes feel as if you exist in a solitary, well, vacuum.
It often gives me pause. As a writer, regardless of the medium, I find that I'm always putting myself "out there." For example, in an article, it might be how I structure the lede, which can give a hint of the influences of my life. Everything that has happened in my life, converging on the page...hopefully in an orderly fashion.
There are many scenes in the book "Hope in the Unseen" by Ron Suskind which illustrates this beautifully. One details how Cedric, the product of an inner city upbringing, browses the Brown University bookstore and runs across a biography of Winston Churchill. He had no idea who Churchill was. Cedric's frame of reference is completely different from mine...and from yours. As he makes his way through his first year at Brown, Cedric brings his past, present and future along with him.
Blog post or magazine article, this is me--along with all my knowledge, as well as my baggage.
And writing seems less solitary after all.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and freelance writer. She also blogs at CoastalCarolinaMoms.com and TheWriteElizabeth.com, where she contemplates finding creativity in everyday places. She wrote this post alone, with the background influences of her oldest child grumbling in the background. Can you tell?

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

 

Interview with Allie Comeau, Runner-Up in 2008 Winter Flash Fiction Contest

2008 Flash Fiction Winter Contest Runner-Up, Allie Comeau, is a freelance writer living in Fort Collins, CO with her wonderful husband and two extremely energetic dogs. Allie studied Creative Writing at the University of Arizona and feels truly blessed to be able to make a living doing what she loves. Allie writes an active lifestyle blog for Sierra Trading Post and has been published in print magazines and online. She enjoys writing of all kinds – both fiction and nonfiction. Right now, she’s working on several projects and hopes to finish her first novel very soon.

If you haven't read Allie's winning short story yet, "Staring at Soles," please do so at http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/downloads/printable/20-FE1-Winter08Contest-AllieComeau.html . Read on to see where Allie gets her ideas and inspiration for her writing!

WOW!: Allie, congratulations on your story, "Staring at Soles", winning runner-up in the Flash Fiction contest. Your story is full of emotion. Was it hard to fit all that emotion into a story with limited words?

Allie: Thank you! When I wrote this story, it just poured out so quickly I didn’t really have time to think about it. It’s just an emotional subject. The moment when a woman decides to leave her husband – I can only imagine it would be one of the most emotional moments in her life. I just tried to convey that. My copywriting experience definitely came in handy here – I’ve learned to write tightly and leave out unnecessary words.

WOW!: That is very important in writing flash fiction or any kind of fiction, really--leaving out unnecessary words! You also were able to add quite a bit of back story into this flash fiction piece since it is important the reader knows that Laura has been through this before. How difficult was working in the back story?

Allie: I knew I wanted this story to be about a woman deciding to leave a man, but I wasn’t sure why she was going to leave him until I started writing it. The back story just came to me and it was easily told in her thoughts and her realization that the situation was never going to change. It had happened before, it’s happening now, and it would happen again. It just worked.

WOW!: It seems like several authors work the same way as you. They know where they are going with the story but not quite sure how they are getting there. It is AMAZING and worked well for you when an author watches the story unfold before her eyes. Was it easy for you to come up with your title? How do you usually choose titles for your work?

Allie: Actually, I used to be petrified of titles. They’re so important – if the title is bad, readers might never get to the first page. But now I look at them as opportunities to intrigue the reader. Someone told me the best way to title your work is to find a statement, image, or description that really stands out within the story and steal it. If there isn’t one, then you need to worry about more than the title.

WOW!: Great advice. Thanks for sharing that tip with us. What themes do you like to explore in your fiction? Do the themes in "Staring at Soles" exemplify what you typically write about?

Allie: Ah, that’s my problem. I like to explore everything. Lately, however, I’ve become fascinated with specific moments in time – life-changing moments when someone makes a decision that radically alters the course of his or her life. What are the motivating factors behind the decision? What was the impetus? I just think it’s so interesting.

WOW!: And that theme probably supplies a lifetime of writing ideas. We'll look forward to reading more of your work, exploring the life-changing moment theme. In your bio, you stated you enjoy writing fiction and nonfiction. What other fiction pieces have you written? What types of nonfiction pieces have you written?

Allie: I enjoy writing nonfiction pieces about things I’m interested in, like health & fitness, the environment (I’m a total tree hugger), animals and travel. But writing nonfiction about things I’m unfamiliar with is fun, too. It can be extremely educational. My dream job would be to write for National Geographic – that would be it for me. As for fiction, it’s all over the map. I’m working on a little collection right now about those moments in time I mentioned above.

WOW!: What a great way to look at writing nonfiction. It does give us a chance to learn about something new or explore a topic more in depth. Have you had luck publishing or winning awards with fiction and nonfiction work?

Allie: I don’t know if there’s much luck involved in publishing – more like plain old perseverance. I sent out query after query for a year before I landed my first article. It’s tough to get assignments without clips. But it’s finally starting to happen. I have an article slated for the August issue of Delicious Living Magazine, a national health magazine that sells in Whole Foods, and I publish regularly now in a Northern Colorado magazine called Style. I’ve also been published in the local community paper and various websites online. This is my first published fiction piece, though, so I’m pretty excited about it.

WOW!: Congratulations on your perseverance and success! That is very exciting, and we are glad that WOW! could publish your first fiction piece. Your bio also states that you write a blog. Please tell us about it.

Allie: I write an active lifestyle blog for an outdoor gear retailer. I publish seven days a week and cover all the things I enjoy writing about – health & fitness tips, green tips, outdoor news, adventure travel, etc. It’s so fun that sometimes I forget it’s a job. I really enjoy it.

WOW!: What a great writing job. We will definitely need to check that out. You write full time for your career, according to your bio. What is your daily routine like? What types of writing help pay the bills?

Allie: I love the freedom that comes with freelancing. I work more than ever, but it’s on my own terms and that, to me, is well worth it. I start the day off researching and writing that day’s blog post, networking a bit online, and then I use the rest of the afternoon for other projects, assignments, querying, creative writing, and marketing my writing business. People are surprised that I can stay so focused working from home. It’s not difficult in the least because I love what I’m doing and want to be successful. As for the bills, copywriting and blogging are taking care of those for the time being.

WOW!: Thank you for sharing with us your typical writing day. Many freelancers wonder how other writers organize their day and stay focused. These tips are great! You are also working on a novel. Can you tell us a little about it?

Allie: I would like to, but the same person who taught me how to title also told me that you should never talk about an unfinished work before it’s time. If you let the cat out of the bag too early, it may never come back. Plus, I don’t really know what’s going to happen yet myself. I’ll keep you posted, though!

WOW!: Thanks for keeping us posted, and for letting us in on the advice that a mentor gave you. We can all learn so much from each other. What advice do you have for other writers who would like to enter a WOW! writing contest?


Allie: Rewrite and rewrite until you’re happy with each and every word. With only 500 words, each one has to count. Other than that, just go for it and don’t be afraid to put your writing out there. Oh, and good luck!

WOW!: Thank you, Allie, it has been fun and interesting getting to know you. If you want to read more about Allie, check out her blog at http://blog.sierratradingpost.com or her website at www.alliecomeau.com . You can also email her at alliecomeau@gmail.com .

Happy Writing to everyone!
Margo Dill
http://www.margodill.com/

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

 

41 Blog Success Tips You Can Learn Today

Blog days. They are a great opportunity to put your voice and your thoughts out into cyberspace. Some writers are so excited to connect to their readers that they blog daily and sometimes more than once a day. For others of us who haven't yet hit our blog stride, blogging seems more like a pesky morning chore with one looming question, "What the heck am I going to write about?"

If I ever figure out the answer to that question, you'll be the first to know.

While I continue trying to work that out, I'm always on the lookout for tips to help make blogging easier and more effective--which
is good for you because I love sharing when I find good information and inspiration. Today, the tips come from Susan Gilbert, AME's Search Engine Marketing Expert and the Web 2.0 company owner of http://www.JoomlaJump.com, who provides Social Networking websites and services.

Susan offers up some great ideas to boost your blogging success...

41 Blog Success Tips You Can Learn Today
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1. Read - The more you read the better writer you will be. Being a blog reader helps you understand the mind of the blog reader. What they want, how they like information to be presented, what turns you off. Read good blogs and note your thoughts.

2. Take one step - Chunk it down. Don't be overwhelmed, take one step at a time and keep going.

3. Be interesting - Readers want to find fresh, valuable, entertaining, remarkable information. Make an effort to deliver more than just facts. Make it about them, not you.

4. Get your point across - Style, grammar, spelling all count for nothing if your audience doesn't get your meaning. Make sure you are understood.

5. Deliver the goods - Being valuable is more important than following any rules.

6. Be consistent - You are only as good as your last post.

7. Prioritize quality over quantity - Fewer kick-ass articles are better than many so-so posts.

8. Develop expertise - You might not be an expert now but you can be. Dive into your subject and become the go-to person.

9. Hold on to passion - Keep the fires burning, don't let your subject turn into a chore.

10. Communicate fascination - If you love your subject then let your readers know, share your enthusiasm, make it contagious.

11. Write better - All of us can improve our writing but it takes effort and motivation.

12. Grow your experience - Do new things, broaden your horizons, stretch yourself.

13. Share your experience - When you learn something new, tell your readers about it.

14. Explore and experiment - Keep trying new things, never stagnate.

15. Be unique - If you are the same as everyone else, why would anyone visit your blog?

16. Look good - Appearances count, both in terms of your blog design and your posts. Make your content zing!

17. Make a great first impression - Do new visitors know what your blog is about in under 10 seconds? Can they navigate easily? Where is your best content?

18. Build momentum - Keep pushing every day, do not be content, it takes less effort to keep going than to stop and start over.

19. Optimize - Keep tweaking, continuously improve.

20. Write with focus - Don't squander your readers' attention, give them what they came for.

21. Build your reputation - Know what you stand for and deliver it consistently.

22. Go for keywords - Find out what your readers are looking for and write about it.

23. Write compelling headlines - Get attention, promise a benefit, provoke interest.

24. Offer full feeds - Attention is more important than page views.

25. Interview - Supplement your knowledge by interviewing experts.

26. Break news - Be first to a story, let everyone know and see the links flood in.

27. Run contests - Contests are fun and build awareness.

28. Research, survey and poll - Research results are newsworthy and differentiate.

29. Toot your horn - Celebrate successes, send out press releases.

30. Monitor your stats - Stats tell you the health of your blog. Where is traffic coming from? Can you do more of what works? Is your blog growing or sliding? There are many free services.

31. Comment and answer comments - Nurture your audience, make them know they are valued. Comment on other blogs.

32. Link generously - If you want links then you have to first give them.

33. Join forums - Break out of your bubble, meet people where they are.

34. Give stuff away - You get what you give. Free downloads get rewarded with links and traffic.

35. Make friends - One of the pleasures of blogging and also a route to success.

36. Guest blog - Write brilliant content for other bloggers and see your brand grow.

37. Ask questions - Curiosity is a virtue.

38. Twitter - Constantly communicate and get to know people. Anything too short for a blog post can be delivered in 140 characters.

39. Stumble - Train yourself to discover, recognize and share brilliant content. What you can identify you can imagine, what you can imagine you can create.

40. Rebel - Break the rules, go against the flow, zig when others tell you to zag, do your own thing your own way.

41. Enjoy - Keep doing what you do until it stops being fun. When it is no longer fun, bring the fun back and your energy will be infectious.


Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

Share your blog link and/or links to some of your favorite blogs in the comments section. We'd love to check them out!

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