Stretching Our Comfort Zones

NQ Promo Pic 2018The FWA 2018 Conference offered some neat “extras” this year including an affordable, professional author headshot studio and a recorded video interview session for the Meet the Authors Show with Dr. Philip Levin. Since I’d just had the headshot done at JC Penny not long ago, I decided to invest the small requested fee in doing the interview. (Fees benefited the Florida Writers Foundation to combat illiteracy in Florida.) Dr. Levin made the interview fun and easy, but I was sweating it for two days beforehand. I’m not particularly comfortable in front of a camera lens but I thought I’ve got to stretch this comfort zone some! Take a look at the results of a mobile studio interview with a rookie interviewee and a pro interviewer: NL Quatrano on Meet the Author with Philip Levin

On September 28, I was interviewed on the syndicated radio talk show, BIRDSONG, and I had a blast – but no cameras were involved, so aside from fearing that I’d sound like Minnie Mouse, I wasn’t as nervous. The nice thing about radio is that you can have it playing in the background while doing other things, so listen to the show! https://www.talkzone.com/episodes/LegalChannel/BIRD092818.html) Be prepared to laugh, to ponder, and to be engaged with this show.

What’s the value of all this out-of-the-box activity, you may ask? Well, Leonard and Philip and I are all authors and spending time with one another in these formats helps spread the word for us all. And, media like video and audio help spread the word exponentially compared to print and static web presence, so they are powerful tools for all of our social media like websites, FB pages, Twitter, etc. AND, I learned things, had fun, and grew as a person and an author!

Moral of this story: If it’s not immoral, illegal, or dangerous to you or others, don’t let discomfort keep you from trying new things! Be willing to learn something new every week – it’ll keep your body, mind, and spirit in good shape!

Keep writing and reading!

I WISH TO EXTEND A HEARTFELT THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES FOR YOUR DEDICATION TO THIS NATION AND OUR FREEDOMS. THE PRICE YOU ALL PAY IS TOO HIGH AND YET IF YOU DID NOT – WERE NOT WILLING TO – THEN WHO WOULD BE GUARDIANS OF THIS UNIQUE AND INCREDIBLE COUNTRY? May God Bless you all today and always. 

Nancy Q. 

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WRITERS AND FRUSTRATION

Orange Juice by Andreus

Orange Juice by Andreus http://www.dreamstime.com

I’ve been in touch with – and made aware of – a lot of writing frustration over the past 4-6 weeks. I’d like to offer some suggestions that may empower you to write anyway.

The most common comments include, “I don’t have any time to write”; “This story just isn’t coming together”; “My publisher is not happy with this latest story”; “Sales really stink” – I can list many more, but in the interest of time for us both, I won’t.

I send us all a hug on this stuff. And hugs sent my way are appreciated. We’re all in the same boat even if not at the same time. And, I think that the bottom line sometimes just needs to be, “So what? This too shall pass.” We’re human. We have things to learn. We get sidetracked. So what?

A healthy quality of life includes the ability to live with joy on a daily basis regardless of the circumstances. It’s the result of a healthy spirit. Of being present to the moment we are currently in. We cannot have healthy spirits without balance. We won’t have balance if everything, every day, is about us or our writing. (We also won’t have friends.) And, it’s easy to get down that rabbit hole without a clear way back – I’ve been there myself a time or ten in the 20+ years I’ve been writing professionally.

We have to make our writing a priority, but it isn’t who we are and it won’t work well to be an obsession. I suggest that it must rank higher than twenty hours of television per week or hours upon hours of video games. I recommend giving up social media except for carefully selected, and disciplined viewing. Set up times per week, or per day if you must, to do your viewing. Then get out and get back to work. This includes research.

We don’t always get what we want and we often don’t get it when we want it. Sorry, these are just facts of life. They apply to me and Bill Gates equally. But, do we have all we need to be at peace, to be safe, to be healthy at this moment

GRATITUDE: Thankful people are happy. Happy writers write more words per year. Balance comes along with being diligent about being grateful. Be constantly thankful for all that you have: safe, clean water, electricity, clean air to breath, funds to pay the bills, food, health, a roof over your head, friends who love you, etc. Be thankful for what you don’t have: a catastrophic illness, the death of a child, the loss of a limb or sense like hearing or sight.

MIND OUR OWN BUSINESS: Let others run their own lives. Running anyone’s life but our own will eat up so much time and energy that there isn’t anything left for our writing – and it will not be successful or productive. Limit your exposure to Facebook, YouTube, and political news if you want your spirit to stay healthy.

HELP OTHERS: Participate in the world around you where you can. What passion lights up your heart? This is a world of many needs. Mentoring a student might be one, or helping the local library be what makes you smile. Maybe you help out at or through your faith community. Hats off! Don’t give it up – we grow by helping others.

ENJOY OTHERS: Don’t ignore your friends and family, but also let them know that you have a writing schedule and we appreciate them helping us stay on it. When they ask what you’re writing, reply, “The Great American Novel” – regardless of what you are really writing. BUT, don’t share your manuscript or ideas with friends and family until you’ve written at least your first draft. The influx of THEIR ideas will create a frustration level that will be hard to get past as you try to please everyone. I can guarantee you won’t be pleased with the result and you may even just quit altogether.

GROW YOUR KNOWLEDGE: Join a professional writer’s organization that can help support your growth in terms of skills, knowledge, and friendships. If your hobby is knitting, then you’ll probably have a blast joining a group that meets a few hours a month to knit projects that help others. Makes sense that you should be spending time with writers – others who understand what it’s like to have characters make you crazy with their insistent plot changes, or an experienced group that can help you learn to market that passionate non-fiction book that is almost finished.

BE KINDER TO YOURSELF: Be sure to schedule time and activities that take care of you. If it’s a spiritual retreat once or twice a year, be sure to do it. Love movies? Get yourself there, with or without your favorite movie-going buddy. Take a walk on the beach or in the woods regularly. Get out there in the fresh air for a round of golf every week with your pals. And I recommend that you write a max of 6 days a week – even God took off one day, remember? And He too was in the business of creating things. We are no good for anything or anyone if we are too tired, too hungry, too lonely, or too angry.

Keep reading and writing – I’m sending you hugs! See you next week.

Nancy Q.

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WRITE YOUR TRUTH

Michael Ray King 300dpiAt the Ancient City Chapter of the Florida Writer’s Association meeting held in St. Augustine yesterday, guest speaker Michael Ray King did a powerful workshop suitable for new writers and those of us with much more experience. Maybe too much experience! 

Mike has become a powerful writing coach and a highly effective speaker. When we first met he was a very talented and powerful writer, learning to be comfortable with coloring outside the lines. His expanded expertise is exciting and energizing to be around. And, he made an impact with the writers at the meeting, for sure. This one included.

In speaking about writing the first draft of anything, Mike encouraged us to JUST WRITE THE *^%$# THING. Don’t censor it, worry about the grammer, anyone’s opinion, or the rules you learned in 7th grade about what makes for “good” writing. Your first draft of anything will be unsuitable for anyone else’s eyes anyway – so just get it written. Enjoy the freedom of NO RULES, NO CENSORS, NO RIGHT OR WRONG! Write your truth with passion and without apology! That enjoyment will carry over into your writing and you’ll find yourself – and your words – energized.

Several of us, who are multi-published, remarked to one another later that we’d once written that way, before we attempted “good” drafts, making deadlines (self-imposed or otherwise) or surviving critique group comments regarding that first draft. Mike’s advice on that? Don’t give it to your critique group before you’ve given it a good edit!

THE DRAFT is your truth. Raw, visceral, necessary – it’s the essential starting place. As Nora Roberts has told thousands of writers at conferences over the years, “You can’t edit a blank page.” And as a professional developmental editor, I can confirm that. But the more powerful the draft, the more powerful the finished product will be. Fiction or non, it makes no difference. People can only be reached through their hearts – and writing your truth will enable you to write with the power and emotion you need to do that.

Mike also pointed out that the road to publication will also include self and professional editing, and a plan for marketing your book. “You won’t sell any book that you aren’t excited about,” he said, mentioning how he’d lost his passion for his first book, FATHERHOOD 101, long before it was released. “It became about the words and the deadline, not the topic, though I never meant that to happen,” he told us. “I never marketed that book because I was sick of it.” If we’re going to be successful in selling our work, speaking to others is essential to that success. If we’re not excited about it, we won’t tell anyone about it all.

So, I’ll share Mike’s message here. Whatever it is that you are writing, PLEASE enjoy the journey and experiences of your first draft. Let the joy, the anger, the excitement, and the disappointments of your topic or plot carry you away and just write it all down. You can fit it into your genre and have it conform to the norms of the publishing world in the editing phases with the help of knowledgeable professionals – not to worry. But if you don’t start with a passionate manuscript, all is lost before you get out of the gate.

Have a terrific week. Enjoy what you read and write and keep going!

Nancy Q.

 

 

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Happy Grandparent’s Day!

Due to major and rather consistent computer connectivity issues the past 8 days, I did not get the interview off to Will as planned, so we’ll have his chat next week. Tonight things seem to be working a bit better and I hope they will continue to improve.

Today is National Grandparent’s Day. Not a widely recognized or celebrated holiday and I think that is a shame. What a wonderful opportunity to share family history with one another! What a terrific chance to let our elders – or in my case – the younger generations, know how precious they are to us. At our local Council on Aging program this past week, we had a cookbook signing for 20 authors! To encourage the seniors to share their love with others, I challenged them to write a book – and promised to help them get it ready for sale. So, recipes, accompanied by a little story about it and a photo of the author, fill the book we named Favorite Recipes. They sold 90 copies in the hour and a half of the event. They treated visitors to a taste of each recipe at the end of the gathering. So now there are 20 more stories in the world that show the history and culture of these families and this rural region. And, there are grandchildren now asking about that meal or story in the book. It’s important stuff!

Author Patricia Charpentier would admonish us to make the most of the days we have together and be sure to capture all the stories we can. She’s a memoir specialist, a vocation she pursued after realizing she couldn’t ask her deceased loved ones her questions. Why hadn’t she asked before they passed? We always think we have more time or that other things are more important.

But our history is important. Our stories are the only way that our future generations will get to know us. I came from a family that was very secretive. I was fortunate to find letters and a worn leather-bound diary in my parent’s home before the bulldozers arrived. It changed me as an adult to learn some of those “secrets” which were not all bad things. My picture of the family matured with what I learned. Would it have helped those relationships to have known things before they’d all passed? I suspect it might have. I was raised not to ask questions (a habit I’ve outgrown, though) so I didn’t. And, much was lost that I cannot share with my children and grandchildren about who they are in history and culture.

So while today is getting very long in the tooth, don’t save your memories and stories for a special day. Instead, I recommend we make every day special and make time to record our special memories and stories. Use a journal or a voice recorder, but don’t let it wait. Once we are gone home to the Lord, we cannot answer the questions our loved ones may have.

And anyone interested in capturing a memoir on a video, which is a lovely way to do it, I know a great couple in St. Augustine who do that work. Drop me an email and I’m glad to share their contact information with you!

Until next Sunday, stay safe, be well, and keep reading and writing!

Nancy Q. 011

 

 

 

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BLESSED LABORS & LABOR DAY

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 A federal holiday established in 1894, the holiday was founded by the labor movement during a very dark time in the history of working class.

 In 1882, more than 10,000 workers took unpaid time to march in New York City in protest of conditions across the nation; this is recognized as the first Labor Day parade.

At the height of the Industrial Revolution, American workers, including children, worked 12-hour days, seven days a week for minimal wages in mills, mines, and factories that were often unsafe and provided inhumane working conditions. Agriculture was replaced by manufacturing in mainstream American employment, and labor unions grew prominent and vocal. Through the pressures exerted by protests and strikes, unions and workers were able to compel major changes in conditions, hours and pay.

 Declaring Labor Day as a federal holiday was an attempt by Congress to repair ties with the American working class in the midst of the massive unrest that shook the nation.

There are approximately 28 million small businesses in the USA (2017) and of those, 22 million are solopreneurs, meaning those businesses have no hired employees. These include cottage “craft” businesses that make and sell handmade goods, homemade food items, and personal services. These statistics are calculated on the number of us who actually file for business licenses, so the true number of Americans who rely on small businesses for employment is a difficult one to pin down. Suffice it to say, there are many. Maybe some of your characters are even small businesses. Many of mine are, in both series.

While there are many very helpful programs under the federal Small Business Administration – paid for by our tax dollars folks, so USE them – they don’t actually protect us except through education. For small businesses, there are no unions to fight for us, holidays (paid or unpaid) are in short supply, and the largest benefit cited by most is our ability to flex our work schedules to include things that are important to us. Like the school field trip or play, caring for family and friends in need, or being on vacation more than the corporate 10.4 days per year. Freedom to live our lives on our terms, lucrative or not. We work longer hours per day and week, pay our taxes before ourselves, bring home less net pay sometimes, and struggle to provide health benefits that we did – or would – when working for corporate-owned businesses, but almost everyone I’ve ever spoken to about this says the same thing: “Wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

What we do is band together in organizations where we can share information, advertising, and service opportunities. For writers – and if you are selling your books you are a business – do your research and then invest in your business by joining orgs that can help you learn, achieve, and maintain your business success. And yes, I know that the word “success” can mean different things to different folks, and it should, but for my purposes today, I mean not putting the family out on the street because you are an author.

As an author, I belong to associations like the Florida Writers Association, Liberty States Fiction Writers and Sister in Crime. My relationship as a member helps me to continue to learn my craft and trade, take advantage of cooperative advertising opportunities, be energized and encouraged by fellow authors, and turn a profit.

As the owner of On-Target Words, I belong to organizations like American Writers and Artists, Inc. (AWAI), Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), and most recently, Florida Authors and Publishers Association (FAPA). And, for all of the same reasons I cited above. The point is, get the right support for your goals and understand it comes at a price. Make the time to take full advantage of the amazing perks of belonging.

I hope that your Labor Day is spent without labor and can be spent being energized, instead. May your burgers (beef or veggie) not be burned, your favorite beverages plentiful, and may the Lord keep you safe, humble, and happy, every day.

Keep writing, reading, and submitting! See you next week with an Author Interview. You’ll meet an amazing man: Colonel (Ret) Will Merrill, author of the Ordinary People: Extraordinary Heroes non-fiction series. See you then!

Nancy Q.

 

 

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Writing Business Tidbytes – August

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SORRY, I MISSPOKE!

We often write the things that we say ourselves and hear in everyday life. That’s the way to be authentic, right? Well, yes – if we’ve got the words right, that is! Neither my hearing nor my memory are what they once were, so I’m double checking my writing and my speaking!

Some often-misused words:

  • All the sudden – should be – All of a sudden
  • Calvary vs cavalry. If military on horseback are what you are looking for, you want to use the word cavalry. If you are writing or speaking about the location where people were executed on a cross, you want Calvary, also known as Golgotha.
  • Chomping at the bit – should be – Champing at the bit
  • For all intensive purposes – should be – For all intents and purposes

EMOTIONS & MARKETING

We know that when reader’s hearts are touched, we’ve done our job, right? This is true in fiction of course, but it is also true in non-fiction work including ad and web copy! The link below to Hubspot will take you to a great article that discusses which emotions evoke what response. Worth a few minutes to read!  HubSpot Article

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS A LANDING PAGE?

The thing I liked about this fun offer is that when you learn what makes up a good landing page, you have also learned what makes for ideal marketing points for your press releases, ads, emails, etc. They have a free book offer in exchange for signing onto their newsletter. Don’t want the newsletter? When you get the first one, just opt out – but I suggest you don’t. Lots of good information coming your way for free! Up to you, but if you want to check it out, take a look here. How to Design & Optimize Landing Pages

AUTHOR CHRISTIE STRATOS VIDEO ABOUT AUTHOR HYBRID MARKETING

In March of this year, I presented two workshops at the Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference in New Jersey. One of those was a workshop entitles, HYBRID MARKETING for AUTHORS. Christie came in a bit late because of her appointment with a literary agent, but she was with us for most of the session and had some great questions and input. Here, she used her You Tube channel to share what she learned with her friends and followers. If you’ve got a half hour, she does a pretty good job of recapping the points I tried to drive home. Author Hybrid Marketing

Until next week, I wish you lots of quality writing time, a good book to read, and people who love you. Keep reading, keep writing, keep submitting!

Nancy Q.

 

 

 

 

 

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EXPOSED: Win a Prize Pack!

Diana Hunter and Peter Hopkinson have been temporarily assigned to Task Force Indigo, a counter-terrorism group.

Following the failed assassination attempt on a Canadian Senator, their mission is to interrogate a known associate of a new terrorist organization, ILIF.

What they uncover isn’t just a simple case of an angry young man, but a plot to claim the lives of thousands of people and change the political direction of two countries.

Can Diana and Peter intercept the terrorists to prevent the planned attack or will their pasts destroy their ability to trust each other and undermine their attempts?

Find out in the latest installment of this edge-of-your-seat series!

Available on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited!

Alison Golden was born and raised in Bedfordshire, England. She writes cozy mysteries and suspense novels, along with the occasional witty blog post, all of which are designed to entertain, amuse, and calm. Her approach is to combine creative ideas with excellent writing and edit, edit, edit.

Alison is the creator of the Reverend Annabelle Dixon cozy mysteries, a charming, fun series featuring a female vicar ministering in the beautiful county of Cornwall, England. She also produces a Jersey-based detective series featuring Inspector David Graham and the Diana Hunter series, set in Vancouver.

Her books’ themes range from the humorous and sweet to harder hitting suspense. They are recommended for readers who like to relax and unwind with their books, who enjoy getting to know the characters, and who prefer the tougher side of life implied.

Alison is based in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and twin sons. She splits her time traveling between London and San Francisco.

To receive three free books, updates about new releases, exclusive promotions, and other insider information, sign up for the Cozy Mysteries Insider mailing list at: http://www.cozymysteries.com.

Enter to win a A Diana Hunter Mystery Prize pack. Hunted, Snatched, and Stolen Paperbacks along with a $10 Amazon GC. Ends 8/26/18 @ 11:59PM EST

 

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