Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Writing While the Rice Boils

Last week, Debbie Maxwell Allen commented on my Thankful Thursday post that she loved the Adventures in Children's Publishing site I mentioned. "Too many helpful sites, too little time. :)," she wrote.

Well, that's why I follow Debbie's site Writing While the Rice Boils:  "Resources for writers with little time and even less money, who are on the journey to publication."

I found Debbie's site through the Pikes Peak Writers member directory. She's very helpful and friendly on her blog and in person. I met her at a writer's conference.

Debbie shares relevant resources available on the Internet and bonus:  I don't have to search for them. Debbie does all that work for us. She reviews books on the writing craft, highlights agents on Fridays and shares a ton of resources.

If you don't follow her regular posts, you can search for a specific topic through the "Looking for a Post?" box in the right hand column.

She also Tweets her posts, so follow her on Twitter  @DebbieMaxAllen

A few recent posts I enjoyed:

If you get a chance, look up her site. Lots of useful resources there.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Writers need to ask questions, consider value

It's only mid-week and I'm already overloaded with  information. The publishing landscape is changing faster than the soil around my new house is sinking.*

On Monday, BookEnds, LLC - A Literary Agency rolled out information on how it will publish existing and new clients. The post The BookEnds Strategy for Self-EPublishing caused a bit of a stir. Comments keep flying on this one. 

I think each writer needs to read the piece and sift through the more than 150 comments to determine how he or she feels about this news. Writers had a lot of opinions on this topic. The agency received a lot of pushback for their Beyond the Page Publishing.

I think The Passive Voice blog did a good job of summing up the conflict of interest issue raised by so many on this new change in an agency's role with writers: Agents in Conflict with Clients - Issues and Responses.

Before I posted this, I ran across Bob Mayer's take on the topic:  Should your agent self-publish you? Can your agent self-publish you? 

All this raised an important topic for me. As writers, we are asked every day to pay for services from someone who will coach, edit, train or market us to be better writers. Some will even "just write the damn book" for us.  

I think one thing won't change in the publishing industry — writers need to be educated about their options. You need to ask questions. You need to consider the value to your career and your pocketbook. And, sometimes you should go with your gut and not worry about what everyone else on the Internet thinks of your decision. 

How do you educate yourself as a writer about all the changes in the publishing landscape?

(*I won't bore you with those details, but it's all covered by the home warranty. So, it's a blessing.) 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Writers: Are you Social? Q&A with Author Edie Melson

Edie Melson shares writing tips on her The Write Conversation blog. I met her in cyberspace a while back. I took a keen interest in her blog while preparing for a writer’s conference this year. I’ve forwarded multiple links to friends after a conversation about “what to do” in preparation for a conference.

Now, Melson is offering her advice on Social Media in an ebook  Social Marketing for Writers:  How to Blog, Tweet, & Peep Your Way Onto Amazon’s Best Seller’s List available through Kindle  and Nook.

Within a few minutes of seeing a notice that she had a book available, I downloaded it.

Melson offers solid tips in her book just like she does on her blog. She knows how to blog, write, teach, edit and share. Her bio is extensive. In addition to her publishing credits, she is the assistant director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference and Southwest Christian Writer’s Studio.

Q & A with Edie:
Edie Melson

Q: Welcome Edie. I enjoyed your book and think it applies to just about anyone who uses or wants to use Social Media. I like how you begin in your book by encouraging people to not take on too much at once. When you talk to writers about using Social Media, what’s the first one they should begin using?

Edie: I encourage writers to begin with Facebook, because it’s a little less intimidating. Then I recommend a Twitter account (and using Tweetdeck immediately) and finally a blog. Doing it this way means the writer is familiar with the tools to get the word out about a blog.

Q: I loved your honesty when answering whether blogging is a good use of a writer’s time. Did you develop your list of how it works and does not work for writers through trial and error in your own writing experience?

Edie: A lot of it was trial and error with me, although I waited to go public with my blog until I felt like I had a solid platform. I’ve worked with hundreds of writers, helping them develop platforms and find a solid niche on the Internet. It’s helped so much to see what did and did NOT work for them.

Q: How did you develop your schedule for how you use Social Media? In the book, you say your schedule allows you "to interact with my readers without sacrificing my writing." 

Edie: I developed my schedule because I was totally overwhelmed. I felt like I was spending all this time on social media and not getting any writing done—which was the reason for starting the social marketing. I found the minimum I could do and still get results.

Q: What mistake do you see writers most often make with Social Media?

Edie: I think they do two things. The first is to be too afraid to try it out. The other is to give up on it too soon. Like anything worthwhile it takes time to see solid results.

Q: I recommend people follow your blog and Tweets, who do you recommend people follow for helpful and reliable information on Social Media? 

Edie: I have several blogs I read every day, and I follow them on Twitter:

Q: Thanks for stopping by. I’ve been trying to update my blog recently and your book has helped me focus on a few future changes.

Edie: Thanks for having me! Our relationship is actually a great example of social networking at its best. You left a comment on my blog and since I didn’t recognize you I clicked on your profile and then visited your blog. I was impressed with what I saw so I signed up for email notification and left you a comment. The rest, as they say, is history.
I love it when things work like they should! You’re a huge blessing and encouragement to me and I’m so glad we’ve been able to get to know each other.


Well, that was too kind of Edie. 

Whether you are new to Social Media or have been using a single or several formats, this book offers good advice to help you improve your journey and get more out of the experience. Please stop by Edie's blog or drop by Social Media Marketing for Writers on Facebook and LIKE her page.

Follow her on Twitter @EdieMelson 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Adventures in Children's Publishing

If you write, Adventures in Children's Publishing is a great site to follow.

Don't write children's books? It doesn't matter.

The site features good writing tips — they apply universally to a variety of genres.

I found it long before I acted on my desire to write a picture book.

The tag under the blog's banner says:  "Children's writers in search of readers ... and the information, market info, insider tidbits, and writing advice they find en route..."

The site has tabs on its contributors, quotes on writing, great openings, beautiful writing and contests & workshops.

I really enjoy the "Helpful Articles" column on the homepage. You can quickly find worksheets, writing tips and query information. One of my favorites is a Pre-Submission Checklist. This checklist is a great editing tool — even if you aren't ready to submit your work yet.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rules of the page

Rules. Rules. Rules. 

As a writer rules dictate how we write, format, edit, query, publish and promote. All the information can make a one's head spin. 

Rules do keep things in order.  Agents encourage us to visit their website for submission rules and guidelines. There are multiple blogs to help you write a query letter or the realities of the publishing business

So, follow the rules. It may save you time from querying an agent, who isn't interested in your genre. And, it may help get your foot in the door, so it can have a larger audience than the dog. 

I found "food for thought" links to share: 
Happy writing.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Oh, zoo — what about you

We took a family trip to the zoo earlier this month. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has wonderful exhibits and lots of animals. It's on the side of a mountain and has great views of Colorado Springs below.

While Enzo stared at giraffes, lions and prairie dogs for the first time, his parents were a bit jaded.
Enzo checks out an indoor display at the zoo.
At the giraffe exhibit at the zoo, I recalled a visit to another one in Nairobi where Out of Africa author Karen Blixen lived.
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo allows visitors to feed the giraffe.

I did this in Nairobi.
Looking at the zebras, hubby and I recalled the Zebras in the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti in Tanzania.
A couple of zebra at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
Zebra and wildebeest share a water hole in Tanzania.

The elephants ate lunch at the zoo.
At Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
Elephants roaming in Kenya.
Can you tell? I traveled on safari. My husband took a safari vacation too, a few months before me in 2006. I didn't know him then. We had trips of a lifetime. I visited Victoria Falls as well. Hubby climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

I knew when I stared at a mother Leopard and her cubs in Kenya it would be difficult to visit a zoo again. A zoo seems a bit unnatural — so says the lady who invaded a natural habitat in a Land Rover and a zoom lens.

While we stood pondering the elephants in their enclosure, I realized I don't want my safari adventure to hinder my zoo experience with our son. I mean the elephants don't have to worry about predators at the zoo. That's a good thing.

I guess the key is not to compare the zoo with our safari experience. It's not the same. Enzo doesn't know the difference. I didn't until I traveled to Africa. Zoos are a wonderful learning opportunity and less expensive than the "once in a lifetime" trip I took.

Once Enzo gets more interested in the animals, I'm sure the zoo will take on a whole new meaning for our family. I don't want to forget the thrill of seeing the animals in the wild, but I look forward to seeing the world anew through our son's eyes.

A monkey smiles at zoo guests.
Are you a little jaded about something — in life or in your writing? Are you making an effort to change your attitude?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thankful Thursday: @MichaelHyatt

My Thankful Thursday posts have morphed into my favorite websites, writers and experts on the web. Here's another one:

I enjoy following Michael Hyatt in the cyber world. I found him after I read a post about a large Christian Book Expo that didn't do so well. I admired his post and have followed him ever since. 

Hyatt is the chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the largest Christian publishing company in the world and the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S, according to his website. 

He focuses on leadership, productivity, publishing and social media issues. His About page states his goal: 
My goal is to create insightful, relevant content that you can put to work in your personal and professional life. If you are in a position of leadership—or aspire to be—then this blog is for you.
He also lists several top posts on his site that are worth checking out, especially those new to social media like Twitter.

His posts are compelling. I randomly comment on them. Hyatt has a large following. The conversation is full without my input. He is always welcoming to those, who post.

I listen to his words and advice. I pass along his posts to friends, who maybe are having a leadership challenge at their workplace or a writer, who needs a dose of inspiration or advice.

I find Hyatt's posts helpful as a writer and a person.

He offers a free ebook on Creating A Personal Life Plan when you subscribe to his email list or you can follow him on Twitter. He's @MichalHyatt.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Are you a deadline wimp or champ?

Stress and deadlines weave themselves together nicely.

As a journalist, I did my fair share of worry, nail biting, pacing and yelling. I'm not proud of the yelling, but I learned from my mistakes.

I worked at the student newspaper in college — organized and professional.

My first newspaper job after graduation was chaotic and in disarray on deadline days. I reported for my first day of work at 8 a.m. I left after midnight. The publisher told me to go home and he would finish the odds and ends. He worked into the early morning hours.

When a weekly newspaper I worked for switched to a twice-weekly publication, the deadlines seemed easier. At a daily newspaper, the deadlines seemed as easy as taking a lunch break. At the end of the day, I knew the paper would be published.

Missing a deadline was never an option. It cost the company time and money. Plus there was the personal push back. If you missed a deadline for something stupid, the press crew didn't like you and the carriers (the folks who deliver the paper in the early morning hours) wanted to kill you. Add in subscribers, who expected their paper at 6:05 a.m. every morning and you might have an angry mob on your hands.

Best to always meet deadlines. Less drama.

Now, I'm a one-man ship, but I still have deadlines. The ones I make for myself. A few weeks ago, I almost missed a submission deadline for an anthology and a contest. I knew about the deadlines, but we had several family events and travel that made me think it was okay to push back the work.

My plan derailed once the summer sickies attacked us after our travels.

As soon as I felt better, I wrote, revised and wrote some more. I made the deadline, so now we'll see what happens. I wish I had pushed myself harder before the trip to work on those essays.

We live. We learn. So, I spent some time reorganizing my goals for the remainder of 2011. I added a few submission goals and took a few away to match family activities.

I like deadlines, especially when I make them.

How do you make your deadlines? Are you a deadline wimp or a champ?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Emails: I've been down this road before

My inbox almost killed me in April when I visited family in Georgia.

A few weeks ago, we traveled to Iowa to celebrate my in-laws 50th anniversary.
Howard and Barb Jensen at their 50th anniversary party in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
I planned no writing time or social media. Heck, I can't get iPhone service where our family lives. Their home is in a dead spot — not a single bar.

The whole trip involved family time, party stuff, family time, party stuff and family time. It also marked the first time I visited Iowa without snow on the ground. Nice weather. Bad mosquitoes.

I did several things to avoid the "700 emails in the inbox issue."

  • Took a close look at email subscriptions — I deleted many business subscriptions, because I'm not in the market a "special deal" or to spend money. 
  • Unsubscribed a little more — I unsubscribed to blogs on writing, coupons and blogging. I saved one email from each site and labled it "resubscribe." In a month, I'll see if I need the blog in my inbox every day or if I can continue living without it. 
  • Deleted it — I read, filed away or deleted all but two emails in my inbox before we left our house. The task took two hours. I loved the white space in the inbox. 
  • Changed settings — I follow a few Facebook groups on writing, so I eliminated email notices on posts. 
  • Changed frequency — I updated my Google Alert frequency to a weekly delivery. I have several alerts, so this eliminated around 60 emails for the week.
I'm not sure what I missed in the blogosphere for that week. I Tweeted some as hubby battled traffic across Kansas, Missouri and Iowa. I used the car time as a way to clean up my Twitter feed. 

I continue to struggle with the volume. 

Two posts I love about the inbox are from Michael Hyatt and Mary DeMuth. A long-term goal is to implement a system to empty my inbox daily. I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it. 

How do you make your inbox manageable?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Daily Writing Tips

I use  Daily Writing Tips often.

Posts are on a variety of topics like grammar, spelling and vocabulary. 

Some popular articles include:

That's my random sampling from their home page. 

The team shares its credentials (impressive) on the About page. 

I receive posts by email. They serve as mini-refresher courses. When I have more time or a specific issue, I roam around on the website. 

Where do you find your writing tips?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Stylish Award: Seven things about me

I'm stylish today. Not because I'm rockin' my muffin top or trying to tan my pale white legs.

Maeve Frazier kindly awarded me this:

Maeve shared fun details about herself and provided links to lots of fun blogs. Maeve is a children's book writer. She writes at LolliPop's Cottage. I've found her posts useful, especially the "Books with Cookies and Milk" series. She shares a book and a cookie recipe. Yummy.

Back to this award thing.

The rules include:
  • Thank and link back to the person giving the award. 
  • Share seven things about yourself. 
  • Award 10 to 15 blogs who you think deserve this award and contact them about the award.
    Seven things about me:
    1. As a kid, I watched a black and white movie where a woman slept in silk pajamas in her bed. Her covers were crisply folded down at her chest with her arms on top. Dracula came into her room and bit her neck. I sleep with my covers around my neck — to prevent vampire bites.

    2. I quit eating red meat around the seventh grade. I don't know why.

    3. I traveled to London, Puerto Rico and Africa by myself, but hate going to the movie theater alone.

    4. I own a Dooney & Burke purse. My twin sister Tracy received it as a prize for her volunteer efforts. She shied away from carrying it, because she didn't want people to think she spent several hundred dollars on a purse. "Sure, I'll use it. Nobody knows me." Plus, it's a basic brown, leather design with no logos. Tracy sent it to me for my (our) 40th birthday. It's been more than a month and I've never used it. Why? "People will think I spent hundreds of dollars on a purse." One day. I will carry it out of the house.

    5. I met my husband Andy through eHarmony. After my late husband died, I hated dating. I met nice and weird people. I tried this site, because it cost money. I thought guys would be more serious, if they paid for the service. My official statement about online dating:  "It worked for us."

    6. I used to be a newspaper editor and reporter. I miss it most days as I lurk around news sites. I don't miss 14-hour work days or typos.

    7. I read each of the Harry Potter books one through six out loud to my late husband Jimmy, while he lived in a nursing home. He died before the seventh book published. I bought it on its release date, but never read it. I put it off and then told myself I can read it when I finish the memoir manuscript. Lately, I think I need to read the book, so I can get on with my writing.

    Oops. I got a bit chatty.

    I'm passing this Stylish Blog Award to:
    10. or the novel at:

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    A Declaration: Happy Fourth of July

    Sometimes while rambling around the park, lounging by the pool or sleeping a little later, we forget about what happened on July 4, 1776. A group of guys got together to declare independence. Thanks to them, I think we're pretty special.

    Here's the preamble:

    When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

    To read it all, visit here.

    Have a wonderful day.