30 May 2011
29 May 2011
"Each day is a journey and the journey itself home." Matsuo Basho
|Part of the shell collection|
|The extinct passenger pigeon|
|A rare elephant bird egg|
|Hummingbird nest and eggs|
We ended the day watching the IMAX movie Under the Sea.
|The extinct Carolina parakeet|
Think of places close to home that you could visit for the first time. Schedule a weekly artist date every week this summer and see how much this awakens your creativity!
The Writing Nag
The Writing Nag
28 May 2011
15 May 2011
Although I don’t have any statistics on rejections I do know that many best-selling authors often boast of how many rejections they received before they got their first work published. And almost every how-to writing book includes a chapter on accepting rejection as part of the writing process. Successful writers all say the same thing…surviving the rejection process is the only way to succeed as a writer.
Yet for many writers one rejection can be the end of the submission process. They continue writing but tell anyone that will listen about the horrific way their literary masterpiece was rejected.
Here are five ways to keep ahead of the “not right for our publication” without losing your desire to be published.
1. Make a Game of It. In my writing group we award prizes quarterly for the most rejections, the quickest rejection and the most interesting or funniest rejection. Some writing groups stipulate that you can’t join without twenty- five rejections. Their theory is that you’re not a real writer if you haven’t been rejected twenty-five times.
2. Don’t take it Personally. Although it hurt when my query was rejected in six minutes (email query, email rejection) I kept my personal feelings out of the equation and re-submitted, and submitted and submitted. It might be rejected by twenty publications before being perfect for one or at some point it might need to be scrapped. Either way if you treat your writing as a business product instead of an extension of you; you can move ahead instead of giving up.
3. Don’t Do the Editor’s Job. Don’t reject your own work before you send it out. It might never be “good enough” in your eyes. It’s like the lottery you can’t win if you don’t play. Let your queries, articles, poems and fiction pieces see what lays beyond your pile of musings. Many smaller publications will even give you constructive criticism along with the rejection.
4. Find your niche. What comes easy to some is like strolling through waist high oatmeal to others. If you’ve tried for years to write literary fiction but everyone thinks your writing is hilarious you might want to try chick-lit. Trying on new genres might just be the spark your writing needs to get noticed and published. A site like www.duotrope.com makes it easy to search for markets for your short fiction, poetry or novel length work. It also offers interesting stats on slowest and quickest response times for publications.
5. Learn from your mistakes. If most of the editors are telling you the same thing or your writing buddies are telling you “you need to take a class.” Don’t be stubborn. A refresher class in grammar or a writing workshop could make a big difference.
Consider that collecting rejection slips is like going to “safety meetings” in the corporate world. A necessary part of the job. Enjoy them while you can and then you can brag about all the rejections you received when your book hits the best-seller list.
The Writing Nag
09 May 2011
Before writers establish an author platform, they typically establish a writer platform. Over the past decade, thousands of writers have parlayed established influence into traditional book deals. Landing a traditional book deal is still an effective way to exponentially increase your credibility and visibility.
Your “platform” refers to what you do in the world with your professional expertise that makes you visible and influential in the world. Having friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter is not your platform, unless the majority of those people know who you are, what you do, and are enthusiastic about your work.
I thought I would offer some advice about how to slowly and steadily establish a lasting platform. You may note the lack of fanaticism in this advice and the emphasis on enduring success instead. I’m a mother and a wife, a freelancer, a speaker, a teacher, and a blogger, so aiming for balance is the only way I can afford to work if I plan on sticking around for the long haul.
This advice has worked consistently for my students over the past several years. I think you will find that a grounded, step-by-step approach works just as well for you if you choose to follow it:
1. Develop a platform topic that you love and can work on tirelessly for the next few years. Your passion of the moment should come in second to the topic you could delve into deeply for a good, long time. Prior professional education and a depth of personal experience are going to be a boon to your platform if you have an eye on a future book deal.
2. Hang back from establishing a blog on your topic until you have cultivated a wealth of content and experience working with others on specialty-related activities that lend credibility and trust to your name. Others will tell you to start blogging immediately, but don’t, if you want to be efficient with your time and money.
3. Instead, gain authority by seeking publication in established, highly visible publications both in print and online that serve your target audience. Avoid the kind of publishing that anyone can accomplish, like posting on article sites, and work on your professional communication skills instead. By all means, avoid the content mills offering writers slave wages with the promise of future earnings.
4. Don’t begin any kind of marketing campaign for any product or service offerings until you have established yourself as a go-to person on your topic, again saving you time and money. Before you look at ways to serve others directly, channel your expertise into the best service methods possible based on your strengths and weaknesses. This is a meaty topic that is covered in-depth in my book, Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform (Writer’s Digest Books 2008).
5. Then, develop a product or service that can become one of several multiple income streams over time that will support your goal of becoming a published author. For example, teaching classes over the years has allowed me to re-invest more of the money I earn from writing books back into book marketing. Make sure any offerings you produce are released conscientiously and are integrated into the professional writing you already do. Otherwise, you will seem like you are all over the place and just trying to score a buck.
6. Don’t expect your platform to support you financially for at least one or two years, as you micro-invest in it, re-invest in it as it grows, and expand your visibility.
7. Once you have a professional publication track record in your niche topic, then it’s time to hang your online shingle. I’ve seen this accomplished in as little as six months by exceptionally focused students. Take a portion of the money you’ve earned writing and invest it in a professional quality online presence.
8. A low-cost way to do this is to purchase your name as a URL and use a hosting site like GoDaddy.com to host a Wordpress.org blog. I use the Thesis Theme, which you can see in action at my blog. In this way, a blog can also serve as your website where you post your published clips, offerings and bio. If you don’t have a ton of money to invest in the look of your site, you can always pay a designer later.
9. Delay partnering with others on joint ventures until you have a clear idea of your own strengths and weaknesses in and around your topic. And when you do partner with others be extremely discriminating. Make sure the partnership is going to be win-win-win for everyone involved.
10. Start an e-mail newsletter or e-zine with those who are most interested in your topic. Build your list by invitation and then grow it into a permission-based following over time. Create an expected, ongoing dialogue that is mutually beneficial to everyone involved and your list will grow.
11. Now you are ready to start blogging. And yes, I mean while you continue to do all the things we’ve already discussed. Be sure to zoom-focus your blog on what you have to add to the conversation that is already going on about your topic. Don’t just share information; make an impact. Make your blog a go-to, up-to-date resource for your audience.
12. Partner selectively with others who serve the same general audience that you do with integrity and humility. Spend time getting to know folks before you decide to partner with them. You can’t afford to taint the reputation you have worked so hard to establish by partnering with just anyone.
13. Now that you have an established niche and audience, definitely participate in social networking. I like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn because they all offer something unique. The best way to learn is to jump in, spend an hour online each week until you are up and running. Follow the instructions for getting started provided by social media expert Meryl K. Evans.
This start-up plan for a writer platform will eventually blossom into an author platform. From start to finish, implementing a solid platform following this advice should take you about a year. By the end of that year, you will have established yourself as a serious contender in both professional and online circles, without killing yourself for some huckster’s promise of overnight success.
Have a plan. Leave a legacy in words, connections and professional influence. If you are consistent, by the time the year is done, you will have made effective use of your time and money in 2010. I wish you the best of luck in your platform-building efforts!
Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids for Writer’s Digest Books. She has written hundreds of articles for national, regional, and online publications, presents at literary and publishing events around the country, and is a monthly columnist for the Willamette Writer. Katz publishes a weekly e-zine, The Prosperous Writer, and hosts The Northwest Author Series. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia College Chicago and a BA from Dartmouth College. A “gentle taskmaster” to her hundred or so students each year, Katz channels over a decade of professional writing experience into success strategies that help writers get on track and get published. Learn more at ChristinaKatz.com.
Posted by Writing Nag at 7:48 AM
05 May 2011
New England Graveyard by Stephen Sandy : The Poetry Foundation [poem]
I cannot see forsythias in bloom and not think of Spring in New England.
Posted by Writing Nag at 11:19 AM
02 May 2011
This post brought to you by Microsoft. All opinions are 100% mine.
"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." St. Augustine
On our last trip to Italy we spent much of our time in the Chianti region of Tuscany with occasional day trips to outlying villages and historic cities. It was a memorable vacation filled with incredible meals, wine and olive oil tastings, museums, tours and moments of simple relaxation but had I planned it a little better I would have included a couple of days in the Cinque Terre region. Last week I had the opportunity to plan a 24-hour trip to the picturesque coast of the Italian Riviera, Cinque Terre, using Microsoft OneNote. I'm confident that any future travel plans will include this fun and easy digital notebook program.
I've never used Microsoft OneNote so I prepared myself for a bit of a learning curve but it was very easy to get started. I began my TripBook with a welcome page and I was easily able to add new sections within minutes. By adding sections for food, drink, hotel, hiking and a quick itinerary I could organize my research and notes. If you feel overwhelmed with the details of vacation planning this is a great place to start.
Begin with research. With only 24 hours in the Cinque Terre I wanted to take advantage of the best of the Italian Riviera...I chose to concentrate on hiking, eating the local foods and sampling the wines. I used the research function to access websites, blogs, tour companies, restaurant reviews, hotel rates and simply inserted pictures, screen shots and general info. Because you can type anywhere on the page in OneNote you can easily jot down notes so you won't miss anything. And Tags let you easily add lists and follow up functions like addresses, photo numbers, and contacts to your TripBook. Tags also help with prioritizing and remembering important info!
Plan everything ahead of time. While the Cinque Terre has many options for accommodations I chose a luxury hotel for the close proximity to the hiking trais, the views, and breakfast. Getting a good night's sleep was paramount after a long flight from Denver and with a long hike on the next day's agenda. Okay the views from the terraced hotel rooms had a lot to do with it too! By planning meals ahead of time I knew that no minute of my short 24-hour trip would be wasted.
Have fun with formatting. When all the research and planning was done I found the formatting functions in OneNote inspired my creative side. I could change section colors, draw, highlight, arrange photos, link notes and even record audio and video.
Share your thoughts. If you're planning a trip with other people OneNote has simple collaborative tools so you can share your TripBook with others. For longer trips I thought it would be fun to assign each travel companion a day or a section for a one of a kind vacation.
Now my OneNote TripBook was almost ready. But instead of stacks of paper file folders, emails, notes, journal entries and attachments I just had one TripBook. And within my TripBook I could effortlessly move, edit, and add and delete information as I finalized my travel plans.
The more I used OneNote the more ideas I had including starting a writers’ notebook and using different sections to organize all of my writing projects. Journaling your trip for a blog or to share with family and friends would be another fun section to add to your TripBook.
I hope you'll visit my OneNote TripBook and let me know what you think!
The Writing Nag
Posted by Writing Nag at 9:01 PM