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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 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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Taking Stock

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Our guest blogger for today ran into a scheduling conflict, so we’ll meet him at a later date. You see? Life happens to us all – ready or not.

While I’ve blogged before on the importance of balance in our lives as writers, parents, spouses, children, employees – I was recently reminded of another aspect of our lives that needs our attention and is often an afterthought at best. (I am including myself, here!)

There is little “instant” gratification in this business. To be at peace and to see a profitable career develop, remember you are in a marathon, not a sprint. Athletes invest great amounts of time, energy, and money in training and getting fit for their event(s). So do entrepreneurs. Many of us are authorpreneurs.

I’ve nudged you all before about sitting down and preparing a real-time, time/energy and financial budget for your book publishing and marketing. If we aren’t writing as a hobby, then our writing is a business and any business that is going to grow into a profitable operation, takes a time and financial investment. It also requires monitoring of the income and expenses on a regular basis, be it monthly, quarterly or semi-annually. While it isn’t a business where you can always point to an expense and see a direct result, it’s still important to track all the activity.

What part does our writing play in our financial planning? Are we including it at all? We have to be careful not to reinvest every dime back into the business. A powerful muscle to build for ourselves is to save some of everything we bring in. A recommended number is 10% – but if you hate that number, choose another one. The amount isn’t as important as the habit of putting aside some of your income, every time you bring in income. Use an envelope tucked in your sock drawer, a can or jar on the shelf, or open a savings account just to these funds.

For some of us, that savings might be our “emergency fund”, for others, it might the “vacation fund”, or the “Christmas fund” – it doesn’t matter what label it has as long as it’s important enough to you to do it! And when you get to where there’s a significant amount saved up, seek a good financial planner to help you invest wisely so you can earn while you sleep! Financial stability is a very good thing for us all. And it is what successful, happy business people do.

I’ve got a good friend who was inspirational to me in the business of writing. She and her husband had recently moved into a new home where her husband could build his shop on the property and not have to commute anymore. She laughed when she told me that she’d saved her royalties over the years in her “someday” account – and that’s what they bought the house with. WOW! She treated those checks as paychecks and she and her husband had agreed early on that they’d live on one check and bank the others, so they lived on his and banked hers. A marvelous argument for not spending every penny we bring in. There are many times I’m reminded of that conversation and it still makes me smile. It didn’t happen overnight – it was probably close to eight years of saving.

So, keep writing, keep reading, keep saving! Be patient and be diligent. I wish you peace and prosperity, always.

Nancy Q.

 

 

 

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Faith Trumps Fear

Merciful Blessings Award

Once upon a time, twenty-five years ago, I could not conceive of putting anything I wrote into a contest. My gosh, I’d never survive knowing someone else read it and thought it was horrible stuff! That my “baby” was the ugliest they’d ever seen?

But, as we grow in our writing by learning and applying, by listening to others and reading a lot, we gain a bit of confidence – a little “faith” in ourselves as writers and as evolving human beings.

Back in 1997, I can remember being over the moon when I won (a door prize at a special meeting) a critique by a NY-published author that I knew and respected. This was the significant event in my life that taught me the power of words.

I quit writing for years after I read her notes. She felt that honesty was more important than tact. I still disagree with that theory, today. Thankfully, my own group of critique partners had faith that I’d be a better writer if I carried on. So, after a lot more learning and listening and reading, I went back to it. I gained lifelong friends and mentors like Anne Waldradt, for one – a woman who permanently shaped my writing for the good.

One of the lessons I learned was to never, ever, share my comments or opinions with anyone unless I was sure they’d be helpful and not hurtful. All suggestions can be offered so they don’t crush the life out of someone.  My writing partner, DK Ludas, or Daria in our circles, is wired the same way. One year she and I even chaired a large writing contest for pre-published authors. We spent hundreds of hours making sure the comments were constructive and not destructive before they went off to the authors. We wanted to encourage faith – not fear.

In time, contests became an opportunity to learn and grow for me, not something to be feared or dreaded. My “babies” can be unique-looking, but they are nurtured through editing, feedback, and rewriting from trusted partners in the business – and I’ve got faith that I can be proud of the results, even when those babies don’t win or even final. Judging a work, be it words, paint, or some other art form, is a subjective process.

I’ve often written in the newsletter about the value of entering contests. Sure, when you win, you feel GREAT!! And every time you glance over at that sticker, trophy, or award certificate, you feel great, again. Sometimes you can win money or a prestigious review, publishing opportunity, or something else that is important to you. And sometimes, we don’t.

But most importantly, we get to exercise and strengthen that faith muscle. And, the made-that-deadline muscles And muscles that are not exercised, do not get and stay strong.

Daria and I pray over just about everything. And even though sometimes we have to encourage each other to let it go and leave it with our Lord to do with as He sees fit, we know the result will benefit us. With our kids, our husbands, our communities and with our writing.

The results do not define us: our participation does. That’s how to let faith beat out fear, every single day. Go for it – and do it with a smile!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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