Friday, November 27, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: "Some Thoughts on Writing," Guest Post by Jayne Martin

Some Thoughts on Writing

by Jayne Martin

At 60 years old, I finally know what I want to be when I grow up. A writer.

This is actually the second time in my life I have realized this. The first was when I was in my 20’s struggling to be an actress despite my extreme discomfort in actually standing up in front of anyone and performing. This was about the same time that Sylvester Stallone was achieving his “overnight” success as writer and star of the first “Rocky.” I naively figured if he could write, how hard could it be and I started writing scenes for my acting class. To my great surprise, they were very well-received and I suddenly went from being the worst actress in the class to someone regarded with a certain amount of respect, it felt good.

While earning my living typing the screenplays of others, I became exposed to literally hundreds of scripts – some exceptionally good, like those by Alvin Sargent and Fay Kanin, and some exceptionally bad by writers never to be heard from again. I learned from all of them. My forté became the realm of the TV-Movie. I would either pitch an original idea or I would get an assignment to write a script from someone else’s idea, or from a true-life story, or adapt a book. The great thing about working on assignment or from a pitch is I got paid whether the movie got made or not and if it did get made, I actually get a bonus payment. My career as a TV writer spanned almost two decades and I was fortunate to have several of my scripts made into movies.

I wrote my last movie in 2004 and for the longest time I felt no creative drive to write anything. Until recently. It started with the discovery of a few new authors and the re-discovery of some old favorites, and their voices inspired me. So with the encouragement of some friends, I started a blog, injaynesworld, and darned if people didn’t start showing up, although where they got the idea there’d be refreshments served I have no idea. Oh, yeah, I might have said something about that in my shameless effort to lure readers. Most importantly, my creative juices are flowing again and I’m meeting and making friends with some wonderful writers.

Since I am no longer completely dependent on writing for a living, I am once again free to write for the pure pleasure and love of it, and I had forgotten how much I truly do love it. Not that I would turn money down. I’d love to get a paycheck for writing again and maybe I will. In the meantime, it’s such a joy to write directly for an audience and get that immediate feedback. A writer needs an audience. Because if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around, it really doesn’t make a sound.

Jayne Martin is an unapologetic, bleeding-heart liberal who loves good horses, good friends, and good wine. A TV-writer in a former life, her credits include "Big Spender," for Animal Planet, and "A Child Too Many," "Cradle of Conspiracy," and "Deceived By Trust" for Lifetime. Visit her blog, injaynesworld.

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Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

 

NaNoWriMo Stories: Joy V. Smith

I'm past the halfway point (32,000 words) on my novel that I'm writing for NaNoWriMo, but why does the homestretch look even longer?! Anyway, after passing that point, I decided to go back to the beginning. Yes, I know you're advised to keep writing, but I knew I had to do some cleanup and there was more information I needed to put in--that's not an info dump, is it?!--which would add to my word count so I went through my novel and rewrote parts, added stuff (not much description yet), and cleaned up typos, and then printed the new version. Partway through I ran out of paper and upset the printer, and that really slowed me down, and I was tempted not to try to make my quota, but I didn't like not doing that, despite other projects waiting their turn at the computer. Anyway, I made order out of chaos and added another chapter to make my quota. What next?! Now I've got to clean off my other desk, which is covered with paper.

I got to bed at five last night, but could sleep in. Now I've got piles of notes (written on random pieces of paper) to get on top of , research (what are American navy and British navy ranks?). Better check my air force ranks; I don't care so much about the militia ranks, but where the heck did my rank printout go? And then I have to work on the story... Someone suggested flashbacks and then a nostalgic look back. Someone else warned me about flashbacks because you lose immediacy. I know what she means by that! I've seen it in TV shows and movies. So, now I'll work on other chores and forget my novel. Wait, I have to do something with those notes before I'm buried in paper! Actually, I have a notebook I'm adding notes about characters, places, and names, timeline, etc. to. And last night (sigh), I put page numbers on the pages so I can start cross referencing... This is certainly a challenge; and, btw, this is the longest story I've ever written. Previously I wrote sequels and then sometimes stuck the stories together.

I've been writing stories since I was a kid. My stories and articles have been published in print magazines, webzines, and anthologies; and my SF has been published in two audiobooks, including Sugar Time. Recent books include Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook; a children's book, Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?; and my story collection, Aliens, Animals, and Adventure. I live in Florida on a registered backyard wildlife habitat with Xena the Warrior Puppy and Bryn the Flying Corgi.

Visit Joy's blog for helpful house hints and publication news.

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We'll be posting words of encouragement for NaNoers and sharing stories here on The Muffin. If you'd like to share a story about your experience, please e-mail our blog editor Marcia Peterson at marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com.
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Friday, August 14, 2009

 

Guest Post: An Unexpected Reaction, by Kim Smith

An Unexpected Reaction

by Kim Smith

I recently had an article published on Friday's Speak Out. Naturally, I was thrilled, and promptly fired off the link to sundry friends and family. All of the reactions were positive (oh, I love those strokes!) with one notable exception.

My father.

When I didn't hear from him, I phoned and asked him what he thought of the article. After a brief pause he said in an unenthusiastic tone, "It was great."

That wasn't enough for me. "Did you like it?"

"Well, I learned something about you that I didn't know before."

Expecting some sort of positive remark, I asked, "What's that?"

"I didn't know you were unhappy all your life." He sounded angry, and I immediately felt terribly small. I know he said more, but I blanked out and can't remember his exact words. I tried to laugh it off and change the topic, but when I hung up the phone, a flood of anxiety washed over me.

You see, I worked for my dad all my life. He hired me first as an office assistant, and eventually I became the bookkeeper for our small retail business. In my article, I wrote that I was unfulfilled all those years, and that I felt trapped. Not because of work or any external factors; it was an internal battle I was fighting.

Does my dad think that I'm not grateful? Does he feel resentful or annoyed? Or is he merely surprised to learn that I wasn't happy? I don't know what my dad actually feels; I am afraid to ask. The worst part about this conversation was that it made me doubt myself. I reread the article, berating myself for writing it in the first place, and for not anticipating every possible scenario.

His reaction, then, was unexpected and rather upsetting. In an ideal world, everyone would love every word I wrote, but alas, there is no such world. I never stopped to wonder how he, or anyone else, would interpret this particular story - I thought it was obvious what I meant - and I thought wrong. As with all experiences, good and bad, I walked away the wiser for it. I know that other writers must have similar experiences, and I wonder how they react.

Several people have commented that my stories are too dark/sad/depressing and have advised me to write 'happy' stuff. I never know how to react, so I just bite my tongue, though I feel that their advice akin to telling Tim McGraw he should sing pop. My husband, to my chagrin, is from this camp. While he enjoys my (very few) humorous writings, he dislikes many of my stories because of their serious content. Tactful man that he is, and keenly aware of my sensitive nature, his reviews usually sound like this: "You're a fantastic writer, honey, but I didn't really like it. Why don't you write a funny piece, for a change?"

Regardless of others' opinions, I do encourage them to point out awkward or confusing sentences; I've often taken their advice and made corrections. I especially am grateful when some alert soul points out grammatical errors, especially if it's a story I'm about to submit to a contest or for publication.

Then there are the writers who bare it all in their memoirs. How do they do it? I wonder. Do they prepare their family and friends ahead of time, or do they just fling it out there, daring to face the wrath of one or many? How many rifts are formed, permanently or otherwise? It is one thing to reveal one's less than stellar thoughts and actions, quite another to reveal another's. I doubt that I shall cross that particular bridge in this lifetime, so my family may rest easy.

My family and friends have been hugely supportive of my writing endeavors, and I value their support. Else why would I offer up my few published stories and wait eagerly for their responses? I realize that I have to accept certain comments at face value, and know that they are usually well intended, and to realize that I can't please everyone. Sometimes, I just need to remind myself: this is who I am, this is what I'm writing, this is what makes me happy.


Kim lives in the country with one needy dog, three perfect cats, one long-suffering husband, and far too many chickens. She tries to write on a regular basis after a suffering a writer's block of thirty years.


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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Friday, July 24, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: Writing - It’s There When I Need It, Guest Post by Marci Mangham

Writing - It’s There When I Need It

by Marci Mangham

My life took what you might call a turn for the worse about a year and a half ago. My physical and emotional health suffered, and I’m still trying to put myself back together. One of the things I left behind was my writing. It wasn’t by choice or planned; it simply fell by the wayside, along with many other things that made me happy and healthy. I was advised to put my feelings in writing, which made perfect sense. Even if I didn’t have any fictional tales brewing inside of me, at least I could write about my pain. No one ever had to see it, but it would be cathartic. Writing as therapy. But I couldn’t even bring myself to do that.

As I slowly began to emerge from the darkness, I started to wonder about myself. How could I call myself “a writer” if I didn’t turn to writing during the dark times? How could I be “a writer” if it didn’t come naturally to me, if I didn’t NEED it? I read about so many other writers who need to write to feel whole. They would write on the sidewalk in chalk if pen, paper and computers ceased to exist.

Years ago I wrote a novel that in the end I decided was terrible, and I threw it in a Dumpster. I didn’t write for a few years after that. When I started again it wasn’t really a decision. I just began, and it felt natural. Eventually I realized that I had enough short stories to put together a collection, and I published it. It seemed so easy at the time: write stories, enter contests, publish book.

A few months ago I suddenly felt that I needed to end the dry spell. I entered a 24-hour short story contest; I felt the challenge of having 24 hours to finish, and the starting point of a prompt was just the right recipe. I was right. After a slow start, the words began to flow again…naturally. What was wrong with me those preceding months?

I got an honorable mention for that entry, but the real accomplishment was getting my perspective back. Sure, it feels good to have gone a few rounds my nemesis writers block and won. But most of all I realized that I don’t control my writing; it controls me. I know I can’t force it, and I can’t keep away from it when I need it. While I may envy those who spend hours every day, writing any and every chance they get, I realize that I am not like them. Writing means different things to all of us, serves different needs at different times and durations.

Whether I spend every day of the next three years finishing the novels I’ve started, or if I don’t eke out another short story for five years, I will embrace the process of writing, and the end result, whenever it graces me with its presence.


Marci has been writing (when the mood strikes!) for 29 years. Her short story collection, "Both Ends Burning," was published in 2007. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her neurotic dog, Charlie. For more information, visit www.marcimangham.com


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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Friday, July 17, 2009

 

Friday Speakout: Never Too Late, Guest Post by Kim Smith

Never Too Late

by Kim Smith

For years, I did not write. For those same years, I felt angry at this failure, and I mourned the writer inside me that I thought I'd lost forever. It wasn't until I'd made a life-changing decision that the writer's block was shattered, and only then did I realize why I had not written a single word.

As writers, we need to create a life that will encourage and inspire us to put pen to paper, or in most cases, sit in front of the computer and type our little hearts out. Only recently have I created this life for myself.

As a teenager I wrote volumes of angst-ridden poetry. I didn't care how sappy or ill written it might be; I wrote for the sheer joy of writing, and for releasing the vast amount of emotion that dwelled in my tormented soul. It wasn't good writing, but it was honest writing, and I never seemed to run out of things to say.

As an adult, I stopped listening to my inner muse. Instead of pursuing my dreams of traveling abroad, of becoming a journalist, of living my life to the fullest, I became a bookkeeper for our family business and remained in the small town I grew up in. In hindsight, I know I could have made this life a better one, but I did not. Fear ruled my life. I married and divorced, and remarried again. I never traveled or did anything exciting. I stopped learning. No surprise I was bored and unhappy; there is nothing worse for creatives than being stuck in a rut, and to not pursue the gifts we are born with.

But finally, something snapped. I knew I had to change my life, or die a miserable, unfulfilled person. I found myself on the internet, searching for cheap, rural properties located on the other side of the country. There were so many to choose from. I scanned the acreages and showed the best ones to my husband who, thank goodness, is a wonderful supportive man. When I suggested that we buy one of these places, quit our jobs, and move thousands of miles away from family and friends, he immediately agreed, as he, too, is a stifled creative.

This was the first adventure I'd had in thirty years. My husband can drive big trucks, so we bought a semi-truck and trailer to drive across the country. We packed up our belongings and our three cats, and drove from Vancouver Island, British Columbia to Prince Edward Island, staying at truck-stops all the way across. It was the most fun I'd ever had, and for the first time since I was a teenager, I felt myself awakening.

This last year we've been building a house and developing our 25 acres. I've started my very first vegetable garden, and I've discovered the joys of hanging clothes to dry. We've got laying hens now, and hope to eventually raise rabbits, turkeys and sheep. Every day I wonder at the peace and serenity this new life has given us.

But, best of all, this change has released my muse at last. I've started writing again, joyously, fervently. I've rediscovered the pleasure of creating, and I know in my heart I will never let it go again. I've seen and learned so much on this journey; it's no wonder I couldn't create when I lived in that self-imposed box I called a life.

But finding the inspiration to write needn't be as dramatic or as expensive as this. Take a course or class that will challenge you. Become a volunteer. Drive a different way to work, or explore parts of your town you've never been. Take lots of unusual pictures. Stop doing the same old thing and start shaking up your life: a new restaurant, a live performance, or music in the park. Change needn't cost money. Take a walk every night and vary your routes, walk a neighbor's dog, sit in the park and observe the humans that pass by, stroll through the mall and take note of the noises, the colors, and the smells, watch birds from your window, bake some cookies and take them to a neighbor. Reach out and touch the world around you.

Don't be shy, or afraid, or hesitant. Life truly is too short. Get out and live a little, or a whole lot! Do not mourn the time you have lost; celebrate who you are now, and forge ahead with a smile on your lips. Inspire yourself, and the words will flow.


Kim lives in the country with one needy dog, three perfect cats, one long-suffering husband, and far too many chickens. She tries to write on a regular basis after a suffering a writer's block of thirty years. Her only claims to writing fame are placing second in a local writing contest, and publication of a short story in a local writer's magazine


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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Friday, June 12, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: Writing Goes Green, Guest Post by Joanne DeMaio

Writing Goes Green

by Joanne DeMaio

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. We’ve heard the mantra; we’ve seen the recycling symbol, three arrows comprising a circle. Going Green has never been so in vogue as we incorporate it into our lifestyles. Yes, even the writing life.

When I’d first started writing, a common credo in the manuals and how-to books was “Write what you know.” The concept draws upon our experiences, our ideas, our lives, giving plenty of fuel to our words. And so I did. After turning forty, I noticed friends and acquaintances who, turning the corner on that milestone birthday, celebrated with girls’ weekends out. Most of these involved trips to Manhattan, with a Broadway show, dinners, shopping, manicures. Together they celebrated a new chapter in life.

So I wrote what I knew. My fiction manuscript utilizes a Manhattan girls’ weekend out as the story’s springboard, taking off from there. After completing that manuscript, the Recycling process began … Reduce. Oh did I reduce. Manuscript revisions resulted in the elimination of several thousand words. Not a one went to waste. Each word had an efficient function in moving the story forward. Author Joyce Carol Oates says that “The daunting task for the writer is: what to include? what to exclude?” I’ve gotten reducing down to an art form.

My writing continued Going Green as I moved to the second step … Reuse. The essence of my story explores keeping our passions alive. It’s important to have our heart’s desire central in our days. I wrote this at a time when I was doing the same in my own life, trying to make writing central. Eventually, I’d penned a complete manuscript. Like my main character, I had finally become what I’d dreamt of being—a writer.

Talk about efficient Reuse. My words informed my character, and they informed me as I simultaneously explored our journeys. Our dreams became reality in sync. My words did double duty!

And now it’s time to Recycle. I’ll take what the writing process has taught me and share it with you.

Yes, write what you know. Then take it further. Write what you dream, what you wonder, what you long for. Through your stories and your characters, find your heart, discover your purpose. If it’s gardens or home or photography or horses, let your writing lead you there.

Reduce through revision. Reuse your passion simultaneously on the page and in your life. Make your characters’ triumphs, successes and journey parallel your own. Then Recycle, sharing the outcome with others.

Keep your writing green.


Joanne DeMaio is a published writer with freelance credits that include The Hartford Courant as well as literary journals. She maintains Whole Latte Life, a blog about living a full, choice life, keeping your passions close, and the rewards of doing so. Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut.

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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Friday, June 05, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: Writers and Their Finances, Guest Post by Michelle Dwyer

Writers and Their Finances

by Michelle Dwyer

Authors regard writing as sacred, fighting anyone who says it's not. They share the same goal, to be heard. With skill and a sprinkle of luck, they hope to make an impact on at least one person in this life while earning a living, or at least while supplementing the income from more traditional jobs. And as most starving artists would say, "Times are tough."

What I've learned about money has helped me tame money's excessive influence over me, thus allowing me to focus on what I love: writing. Maybe my life lessons will help you too.

It was a typical morning. The alarm drilled into my ears, and like a trooper, I got out of bed, dressed, then got my kids out of their beds, and we left for the day. After I dropped my children off at school, I went to Starbucks. The line was longer than an American Idol audition. But I waited. As I cursed and banged my knee against the car door out of extreme impatience, I remembered the words of an old marketing professor, "The mall has everything you want and nothing you need."

Those words propelled my thought process. Stores all over the globe entice us to spend money when our time, and our money, are better spent elsewhere. Starbucks is no exception. Please do not mistake my honesty for hate. Starbucks is delicious and a wonderful treat. But how could I be so weak-minded that I would choose to wait in a line for over forty minutes, be late for work, and then pay seven dollars for coffee and a breakfast that I can make at home for a dollar? I immersed myself in thought. And what I discovered was chilling. I needed validation in a world where I had none. I wanted to say that I had the power to buy anything at my choosing. But in reality, it was a form of self-sabotage. I loved Starbucks, true. But I hated my job more, and I was looking for some solace every morning, to help me survive the day. My own little piece of absolution.

Then I thought of another professor who'd said, "Leadership is the ability to make somebody act in a given way."

I did the math. Leadership plus desire equaled a person of awesome power, me. But I had given my power to my money and let it justify my being unhappy.
Now I'm betting on myself, living on student loans while going to graduate school and working on my writing. I plan to start my own business, maybe even a small publishing company. But I'm also being smart, saving at least 100 dollars a month. And you know what? I'm the happiest I've ever been, and I spend half of what I had spent before I quit my nine-to-five.

Through it all, I’ve learned that calculated risk, determination, and hard work will help me see my passions bloom...and my voice in print.


Michelle studied writing in high school and longed to become an author. But circumstances arose, causing her to join the military instead. However, she never gave up. She enrolled in writing school, finished her first crime novel, and will achieve her MBA this fall. She writes as Krymzen Hall at http://www.helium.com/users/421563/show_articles


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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Friday, May 22, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: "Write What You Know? Or Not," Guest Post by Michele Howe

Write What You Know? Or Not.

by Michele Howe

When two of my closest friends became single moms over sixteen years ago, I had no idea that their trials, tribulations and challenges would the become the touchstone of my writing career. What began as a therapeutic way to tell my friends' stories (and to help other single moms) has grown into multiple articles, four books, and a column. All because my dear friends were willing to share their story, first with me, and then to others.

Right after their divorces, I recall being amazed and so proud of these women's hard choices and how they determined to raise their family solo in positive, proactive ways. As a good friend and onlooker, I'd carefully watch, ask questions, and then cheer them both on. Over time, I started writing article after article, telling readers how to tackle the various challenges of being a new single mom, from which "Going It Alone: Meeting the Challenges of Being a Single Mom" published by Hendrickson Publishers was developed.

As time went on and their lives changed and morphed (and still single), I continued to be amazed and wowed at my friends' ongoing savvy skill at parenting. So, at midlife (theirs and mine), "Still Going It Alone: Mothering with Faith and Finesse When the Children Have Grown" (Hendrickson) was born.

It always surprises me when people ask me how I come up with writing material because I never have to look further than my own experience or beyond the experiences of those I love. Everyone has a story to tell. Not everyone has someone to tell it for them. Writers have that privilege to be the voice for another person and what a blessed privilege it is.

Michele Howe is an author and Single Parenting Columnist.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: A Friend in Need, Guest Post by Jo Barney

A Friend in Need

by Jo Barney

Editing. I believe I have it down pat. I have worked the pages of my novel until they are skin and bones, so lean I am envious. Time to get serious about marketing? I ask myself. One more time through, I think, a little worry niggling at me. I have Mother Jan and Son Tim lifting their shoulders at each other more than once, I’m pretty sure.

My iMac has a Find-Change feature I have used only to change a character’s name once and for all to Sally not Suzy. Rather than read through those three hundred-twenty pages yet another time, I decide to find the excessive shrugs with the help of my electronic proofreader. To my dismay, I uncover twenty-two of them, or an average of two shoulder liftings per chapter, and the problem becomes, how do I change some, at least, of these twitches and still show instead of tell?

The answer, I soon realize, is one at a time. Jan raises her eyebrows, bends her head, throws up her hands, rolls her eyes, and gets comfortable with an expanded vocabulary of body language to show her indifference. Her son, however, being sixteen, needs to shrug constantly. In place of shoulder jerkings, he learns to mutter words Jan doesn’t want to hear to indicate his “whatever” feelings.

The smile problem is harder. A smile between two cheerful people is as ubiquitous as the word “said.” (She smiled as she handed me the book; "Yes,” he said, smiling at my confusion.) All five of the children in my book either smile or--I discover with Ms. Find-Change’s help--tear up. I thought I had been in trouble with shrugging. A search of smile/tear led to eighty-two instances of what could be termed obsessive-compulsive behavior on the part of these kids. In my revision, their mouths curve, eyes crinkle, grins show their eyeteeth (or lack of them), or they say things like “I like you,” and leave the smile to the reader’s imagination. Tear-wise, eyes moisten, water trickles down nose crevasses and into ears, wet blinks flicker, views get foggy, Kleenex gets dabbed.

I have spent the good part of a week with my electronic assistant and feel good about our collaborative efforts. Time to market. I box the book. Second thoughts attack as I wrap it in brown paper. Perhaps my wonderful Jan breathes too much. I go back to the computer, look and find only three “breathes.” However, Jan also inhales, exhales, chokes, fills her chest, sighs, sends the breath to her aching thighs (a yoga thing) and holds it in her lungs for long moments.

Well, I think, as I paste the label on the package, so do I, all of these various breathings. I’m doing them right now, in fact. I shrug, tuck the manuscript under my arm, smile, and head for the post office.

Jo Barney is a writer from Portland, Oregon.

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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Friday, April 24, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: Message Board Marketing, Guest Post by Rita Milios

Message Board Marketing:

First Make a Good Impression, Then Make a Sale

by Rita Milios

Do you have a book to sell? Are you considering using message boards or news groups to reach potential book buyers? How you present yourself in your early contacts with members of these social networks can make the difference between being seen as an intruder or spammer and a valued member with a valued resource to share (your book).

Before you post that first message, take a moment to stop and think. Is your post likely to establish good rapport? Does it set a friendly tone? Does it help you create a good reputation for yourself–as a respectful and helpful resource person?

Prior to sending your message consider these questions:

• Is this topic something that most members will be interested in?

• What is the stated purpose of this group?

• Is my message “on topic” with the group’s stated purpose?

• Does my message offer an answer to a question or the solution to a problem?

• What benefits can the members derive from reading my post?

If you answer the “what’s in it for the group?” question with each message you create–starting with your very first message–then you will quickly become a valued resource person that members admire. Then, later, should you have an announcement that helps you (a new book to announce, for instance), they will be less likely to consider your announcement as “spam”.

Here are some announcement tips to help you craft a message that will be willingly read:

1) Focus on the benefit for members (what’s in it for them?).

2) Appeal to the emotions. Sales experts say that people respond first emotionally to a sales message and then later re-think it and justify it with logic.

3) Hook ‘em with a great headline. A headline is the first few words of your message. It is the “title” as it were. Your announcement’s headline is the most important part of your message. Members (who are also potential customers for your book) will either continue reading your message or completely ignore the rest of it, depending on how good your headline is.

4) Make sure your headline suggests a benefit or value for the reader. Make your headline interesting and cute if possible, but don’t sacrifice clarity…they have to “get” your message.

5) Most importantly, make sure your headline spurs the reader toward an action. (If the action you want them to take is to click on a link that takes them to your website, don’t be shy about telling them what to do. Be direct. Say something like, “Go to (www.yourwebsitename) to find out how you can access this valuable information!

6) Once they arrive at your website, direct them to the sale. Tell customers exactly what action to take. Click here. Fill out this order form. Provide your credit card information. If you fail to direct your customer to these final actions, you may lose them at the most crucial point. So make sure that your customer knows exactly what they need to do in order to purchase your book.


Rita Milios is author of more than 30 books, including How to Create Quizzes, Surveys and Polls to Power-Promote Your Book or Website! She offers unique book promotion services to fellow writers, including hourly “Borrow a Brain” brainstorming sessions. Find out more at www.ritamilios.com/bookpromotion, where you will also find FREE Quizzes and e-Reports.

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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
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Friday, April 03, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: Having Fun with Anthology Builder, Guest Post by Joy V. Smith

Having Fun with Anthology Builder

by Joy V. Smith

I learned about Anthology Builder on a listserv and checked it out. Hmm. This looks interesting, and it could be a home for my old stories since they only take reprints. Then I googled it and discovered that lots of writers are discussing it on blogs, submitting their stories, and selling some. So, I submitted a couple stories and then more, and then some more. I got the chance to put connected stories together that had run in different publications.

You're probably not going to make a lot of money with Anthology Builder. As a matter of fact, some people are using it for their own pleasure. They collect stories and cover art, and the book is printed by Lulu and sent to them for $14.95 (up to 350 pages), plus shipping, which depends on the size of the book. You can choose to have your anthology kept private or placed in the public library, where anyone can buy it. You select from a list of stories (with descriptions and previews), choose your own title and cover art, and receive a perfect-bound, Trade Paperback book.

After I had a few stories accepted by Anthology Builder, I noticed that some writers and writing groups were putting together their stories in collections and anthologies, so I thought I'd experiment with a cover and a collection and ended up putting my collection, Aliens, Animals, and Adventure, in their library, and I ordered a copy for myself. (I've wanted my stories in a collection for a long time.) I've received my first book; it didn't take very long, and the quality is good. Though there were typos, they were mine, and I have no idea what caused the broken lines in some stories. (The sentences are complete, but dropped to the next line.)

The cover art is in genre categories, as are the stories (you choose up to three genres per story when submitting), and the artists include Frank Wu (Hugo fan artist winner) and Baen's Universe artists. There are a number of public domain stories available, by authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, L. Frank Baum, and Jane Austen. There is also a list of publications that the stories appeared in and an author category. You can have fun browsing all the listings.

Nancy Fulda, who is the editor/publisher of Anthology Builder and who is also Assistant Editor of Jim Baen’s Universe, offers blog entries that give you updates on submissions, what she's doing to enhance the website, and describe some stories and art, if you want to check them out.

Future plans for the site include the addition of an Open Market where authors can set their own prices for individual story sales and the addition of a direct-import option for texts from Project Gutenberg. I plan to add more stories to my collection; you can do this, change your cover art, and add more tags. I'm happy to have my stories in Anthology Builder, and Nancy Fulda is a pleasure to work with.

Visit Joy's Live Journal for media tidbits and more.

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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Friday, January 30, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: The Power of Writing in My Life, Guest Post by K. L. Mc Loughlin


The Power of Writing in My Life

by K. L. Mc Loughlin

Baby Steps is the story of one women starting over with a second chance at love and happiness. Lynda Blake is a widow with a teenage son struggling to find room for herself in her own life. From the very beginning I knew she deserved to be happy, I knew I was going to find a way for her to have it all, a happy ending that was really a happy beginning.

Lynda is a character I know well. In many ways she and I think alike. I was determined to give her a life I didn’t think I’d ever have. When I created her, I had two small children, one in pre-school, one in kindergarten and was hanging on in an unhappy marriage. I’d made my bed and for the sake of kids I was laying in it. But Lynda was free and she had her chance, I was going to make darn sure that she made the most of it.

As you can see, my first real experience with the power of intention and affirmations came about inadvertently by writing this novel. Now, I’m not the fastest of writers. From start to submission I spent four and a half years writing and rewriting my novel.

I learned about Lynda’s love interest Dr. Michael Cameron early on in the process. He was tall, dark hair, strong, had the look of a solid man but most importantly he was a man who was honest with himself about who he was good and bad. He was a man who not only knew how to love but didn’t need Lynda to be anybody other than who she was.

By the end of my third draft of Baby Steps, three years later, I had been separated from my soon to be ex-husband for the better part of a year and the divorce was all but signed. I’d dedicated myself to learning all I could about myself so that I would not dare make the same mistakes again. If I was going to get a second chance at love I was going to make all new mistakes this time! I wanted to learn about myself and grow so that I would be ready for love. I woke up every day happy and appreciated that more than I can express. I was lonely but it was so much easier to be lonely and alone than lonely and in a relationship.

I wasn’t sure I’d ever really trust a man enough to be willing to bring him into my children’s life when I met my very own Michael. He is strong and solid. He has black hair. He is honest with himself and knows how to love better than I do. He has an EQ off the charts. For some reason this amazing man fell in love with me and my kids. We became a family and married 11 months later.

I had no idea when I began writing Baby Steps that I was opening the door to my own new happy beginning but if Lynda deserved to be happy then I did too. So even if you can’t see your way out of where you are write it for someone else, someone kind of like you and see what happens. You just might create your own new beginning too!

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K.L. Mc Loughlin is the author of Baby Steps and host of PIVTR's Today's Women. For more information please visit her website www.klmcloughlin.com or www.internetvoicesradio.com.

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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Friday, December 05, 2008

 

Friday Speak Out: Keep At It! Guest Post by Michelle Hickman

Keep At It!

By Michelle Hickman

The house is quiet. The nephews are in bed. My niece has had her bottle and will give me at least four hours of time before her soft cries push through the nursery walls as she asks for her next feeding. The house is quiet...for about two seconds.

Tap-tap-tap-tap.

My fingers skim over the black keys, giving light strikes as I try to keep the noise down. However, my mind will not be quiet. Its words have grown louder and my hands have to obey them over my worry of an awakened child. This is my time away from the aches in my back after I had swept all the floors. My time away from wrinkled skin soaking in greasy dishwater as I had washed the mountain of plates to feed dinner to three children who ate like twenty hungry firefighters.

Eyes stray to look over at the cup of steaming tea. My tongue runs across dry lips. I drank a diet soda this afternoon when the kids had their snacks and watched "Dora the Explorer" videos. Yes, one can (half really) before I ran into the basement as the washer buzzed at the end of the rinse cycle. By the time I returned to finish the can (five hours later after another mess to clean because the kids thought it would be neat to lick the back of Teddy Graham crackers and stick the tiny bears to every window), the warmness had offended my taste buds enough to pour the rest of the soda down the sink. Then I grabbed the scouring pad to rub out the rust stains along the drain that I had been neglecting for the past week.

The tea appears tempting. Yet my fingers keep typing, refusing to take away any time from my writing. I dare not stop now. The boys have a full schedule for me tomorrow. They will fill my day with watercolor paints staining the carpet and missing jigsaw puzzle pieces I will spend most of the morning trying to find only to then have the kids wanting to play with their missing matchbox cars instead.

My hands stop moving over the keyboard. I hear a noise. Was it one of the boys having a nightmare? Or perhaps a stuffed animal falling from the crib as the lack of fuzzy warmness against my niece's face will cause her to awaken? No. The noise is coming from outside. I tense. House keys jiggle in the lock. The door opens.

My brother is home from work. He asks, "How were the kids today?" I wince, not from the question but from the loudness of his voice.

"DADDY'S HOME!" Two pairs of running feet enter the hallway from the boys' bedroom. Then wailing cries begin from the nursery.

I look at the computer screen. Four lines. Four sentences sit alone on the word processor page. I smile at the wonderful sight. I got farther than expected.

Even four sentences are considered an accomplishment in a writer's hectic life.

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Michelle Hickman is the owner of The Surly Writer, a fun and inspiring blog that posts stories of surly humor and, as Michelle says, "on occasion bits of useful information, although I'm trying to stomp out that bad habit." We think she's way too modest though!

Her blogger profile says, "I grew up in the rural hills of Pennsylvania (yes, I am a hillbilly--you do not have to rub it in.) I first discovered a love for writing in high school where I had the opportunity to annoy my fellow students by waxing poetry. No! I didn't use car polish on it, although it would have given the verses a nice shine. My pleasures in life involve laughing at a good pun, enjoying a good read, and having a good friend."

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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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