Tag Archives: platform

5 Prompt Friday

First, I must ask for a moment of silence to honor our fallen American Idol comrade, Casey Abrams. I believe Casey possesses the whole package: an understanding of music: both history and theory; the IT factor to experiment and challenge himself and of course, the confidence that makes this red-headed, bearded guy “sexy” and charismatic. I’m not worried about Casey’s future – I’m sure we’ll hear and see from him again outside the American Idol realm. But, remember, as you write – Experiment and Challenge yourself; you don’t need to impress the masses, just your own circle of fans. Find them, be true to what they expect and love from you and you’ll have a following of loyal readers.

And now…

Prompts to motivate that pen!

  1. At the tone the time will be….
  2. “Squeeze my hand if you understand.”
  3. Inside the locket was a picture of…
  4. A sobbing child with smeared chocolate on his cheek.
  5. Beer here! Get your ice-cold Beer here!

~~~~~~~~~~~

Truth or Dare? DARE!! I dare you to Subscribe to the Writers Inspired Blog! C’mon, all the cool kids are doin’ it ; )

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What I learned this week

…in writing, marketing, teaching, and life!

Writing

Marketing

  • Found on Twitter (I signed up for TweetBeep: alerts when someone mentions you, your handle, your links, etc. also tracks ReTweet’s)
    http://www.meryl.net/2009/01/50-writer-uses-for-twitter/  This is all a part of the social networking etiquette. If someone mentions me, I will know and can reciprocate (or at least tweet a “thanks!”)
  • Used Mr Tweet to find relevant suggestions /recc’s for those to follow on Twitter (provides lists who follows them, who has RT’d or mentioned them in tweets.) This is helpful, because I will see tweets that relate to my industry, learn about news,contest, etc; find links and possibly buddies!
  • Linked to a great site for Public Relations help. Tips on writing and tweaking your own Press Releases and there is even a Press Release formatting guideline

Teaching

Life

  • Ha! Always learning in this category. I’m a control freak. Yes, I’ve said it before and it bears repeating. Control freaks have a phobia about asking for help, but I’m slowly overcoming that fear. This week, I needed to reach out for help on things beyond my experience. Car problems, babysitting schedules and in the writing realm: I am asking parents and students of mine for their testimonials and help in publicizing my Young Writers Summer Studio. I also requested and received help from one of my mentors, Christina Katz, with my local platform development.
  • I also learned to slow down, a little. Baby steps, ya know? I scaled back on my responsibilities with Capitol City Young Writers, the nonprofit organization I volunteer with.  I will be phasing out the job of creating, editing and sending the quarterly newsletter and picking up the task of managing their new young writers blog.
  • Hugs! You can never give or receive too many…

What have you learned this week?

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Filed under Advice, Organization, Platform/Marketing, Rest, writers, writing inspiration

Go ahead and Jump!

“To do anything truly worth doing, I must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in with gusto and scramble through as well as I can.”

Og Mandino, 1923-1996, Author and Speaker

 

{photo coutesy of SparrowsFlame}

{photo coutesy of SparrowsFlame}

We all face fear, especially as artists. There is the doubt whether we are really “that good.” There is the evil little whisper of our inner critic that makes us pause long enough to forgo a unique idea. Or that good ‘ol “common sense” who has a list of excuses at the ready.

Today, my goal of moving out of the cubicle world and into a world of full time writing and teaching young writers is being stumped. How can I commit to teaching an on-going after-school young writers’ workshop in my community if I realistically don’t get home from work until almost dinner time? Are parents and students going to want to come back to school in the evening for this program, rather than a short walk to another class when the last bell rings at 3pm? Can I adjust my day job hours, again? Is that completely irrational, given today’s job market, to possibly jeopardize my steady income?

When faced with the unknown, we paralyze ourselves.  I know I do. I over think, over analyze. Then, you know what happens? Somebody else who has the same idea takes that jump – and makes it.  And I can kick myself.

So, I will muster up the courage and take the next step. Maybe not a full “leaping in with both feet,” but I will make the call, set the appointment and map out my plan with the school. Who knows? It may all work out.

What is stopping you from taking the jump?

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Filed under Advice, Believe, Education, goals, Perseverance, Platform/Marketing, procrastination, writers block

What I learned this week…

Through surfing the net, posting on other blogs and scanning Twitter, I will post each Friday the valuable lessons I’ve learned about writing, marketing, teaching and living : )

Marketing

  • Just linked to this great post by Thursday Bram, who will be blogging daily this month on how to market yourself. Be sure to bookmark this and come back daily through July. Great tips on building your niche.
  • Yesterday I pounded the pavement in downtown Downers Grove getting to know the community shop owners and passing out flyers on my Young Writers Summer Studio: I met some helpful book sellers at Anderson’s BookShop, the manager at My Favorite Toy Store and an eclectic artist at Poe*m Art House (get out there and get to know your neighbors!  Support local vendors and they will reciprocate!)

Organizing/Time Management

Refresh

  • Earlier this week, I posted about hitting the  “refresh” button on your writing career. I urged everyone to take a day or two to just “play” and refresh their well of creativity. I found that my kids are a huge source of fun and inspiration for my writing; my husband helps me to focus on my true writing and teaching goals and to by-pass the busy work and fluff; and being outdoors fills me with hope and peace.
  • I also stumbled upon this amazing blog: The Happiness Project. I’ve added this to my favorites and have been reading archives here daily. Author Gretchen Rubin has her own set of Ten Commandments and urges others to create their list of 10, as well. Dont’ we all need a little more happiness in our lives?

Thanks for stopping by Writers Inspired.  Please share what you learned this week in writing, marketing, teaching and life!

Happy writing!

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Filed under Advice, Believe, books, Education, Inspiration, Organization, Platform/Marketing, Rest, writing inspiration

Blog Book Tour & Giveaway: Elisa Lorello, Author of “Faking It”

Elisa-Lorello_cutesy_01

Today, please welcome first-time novelist, Elisa Lorello in her book blog tour for Faking It.

Originally from Long Island, NY, Elisa is a full-time instructor of academic writing at NC State University and a member of the Raleigh Write2Publish group. She has appeared on *The Artist’s Craft*, a local Raleigh television show, and is currently on a blog tour for her first novel, FAKING IT. In addition to writing and teaching, Elisa’s passions include reading, music, chocolate chip cookies, and reciting lines from *This is Spinal Tap* with her siblings.

Elisa is giving away a copy of her book Faking It to one random winner!  You must leave a comment or question (following the interview) by 12 midnight tonight for a chance to win!  Winner will be posted tomorrow!  So, kick back with your notepad, cause you’ll want to jot these tips down, then pick up a copy of Faking It for a fun summer read!

Interview by: Mary Jo Campbell

Tell us about Faking It.faking it cover 2

Thank you so much for hosting me today—it’s an honor to be here!

Faking It is a romantic comedy. Andi, a 30-something writing professor, meets Devin, a handsome, charming escort (is there another kind?) who catches her attention. She proposes an unusual arrangement: lessons in writing in exchange for lessons in how to be a better lover. When the two break the rules of their contract that forbids each other from seeing each other socially and become friends, problems ensue. I always pitch the novel as *When Harry Met Sally* meets *Sex and the City*. It’s witty and fun, but also poignant at times. The perfect summer read!

What made you decide to go the self-publishing route with your book, Faking It?

I had queried about sixty agents, and even though I received and responded to several requests for manuscripts, I wound up with all rejections, albeit encouraging ones. Looking back, I made a lot of mistakes with the querying process, including not doing enough research about prospective agents and writing queries to a specific audience as opposed to a form letter, to name two examples.

I listened to the feedback that these agents had, however, and made the necessary revisions. I always believed that the novel was worthy of publication, and I knew I had access to an audience in terms of networking, so after doing some research and weighing the pros and cons, I decided to self-publish. I was also very fortunate to catch the wave of social networking (such as Facebook and Twitter), which has been instrumental in Faking It’s success.

What steps did you take to find the “right fit” with a self-publishing vendor?

I attended many panel discussions organized by author Stacey Cochran through the Raleigh Write2Publish group about self-publishing, and did some internet research as well. I probably didn’t do as much research as I should have at the onset (mainly because I didn’t know where to look or what to look for), and know a lot more now than I did then. There’s a lot more information available now (at least it seems that way), and a lot more competition, so you have to be careful.

I chose Lulu.com because they allowed me to maintain creative control as well as the rights to my book, the technical support was very helpful (especially for a first-timer like myself), and I liked that it was a local company (they’re currently located in Raleigh, NC). And while I’m not disappointed with Lulu, some of my criteria has changed, so I’m not sure if I’ll stick with them for my second book. As I said before, I’m in a better position now to make a more informed decision.

Can you tell us about the steps of self-publishing, i.e. do they offer editing services? Marketing? Book cover design?

Great question. Lulu offers all of the above services, and has especially kicked up its services in terms of marketing and cover design. Another nice thing about Lulu is that you can pick and choose which services you want or need. If you want to hire a graphic designer outside of Lulu, for example, you can, and use your own cover art. I edit my own novels, but some people may have neither the time nor ability to do so.  Keep in mind, however, that these services cost extra, so you need to determine what’s feasible for you. But, also keep in mind that all of the above elements are crucial to the success of a book—the more professional your finished product is, the better.

Was there anything that surprised you about the writing and/or publishing process of this novel?

It took me five years before I even started writing this novel because I kept telling myself that I wasn’t a fiction writer. All of my previous attempts at writing fiction (namely short stories) were horrid, so I just kept trying to push the idea for Faking It in the back of my mind. But the idea wouldn’t go away—it needed to be born. So I finally sat down to write it and told myself that I was the only one who had to read it—thus, if it was garbage, no one would ever know! My mantra while writing it was “I wrote the book I wanted to read.” And lo and behold, it wasn’t coming out like garbage—quite the contrary, and when I showed it to people, they responded positively. Then the dam broke, and now I can’t see myself as anything but a fiction writer (or, a fiction writer who occasionally writes nonfiction essays).

The writing process can be slow and tedious at times, but I like those times because it gives me time to listen to the characters’ voices and to do a lot of mental composing.

What has surprised me about the publishing process is how time-consuming it is, especially when it comes to promotion—it never stops. Everything takes longer than I think it will take. And I’m not the most organized person (I blame this on being Italian), so I’m sure that doesn’t help.

What happens if a big publishing house now comes a-callin’ for Faking It?

Hello! Bring ‘em on! Seriously, since I own the rights to my book, that’s not a problem. If the right agent and the right publisher/publishing deal come along for Faking It, then I’ll go with it. I’m still on the lookout for a literary agent and/or a traditional publisher mainly because they have the resources to reach a much bigger audience than I do, and because, unfortunately, self-publishing still carries the stigma of being an outlet that produces poor quality works. That is perhaps the greatest obstacle to overcome. But I stand behind the integrity of my novel.

I also have more confidence now than I did when I started this whole process of getting published three years ago. I’ve learned a lot, especially from my mistakes. When my next manuscript is ready to be queried, I feel quite confident that I’ll have more success finding an agent. If not, then I’ll continue to self-publish.

Have you experienced any back-lash from authors who are “traditionally” published?  If so, can you offer any tips on how to counter these attacks.

The majority of authors and independent booksellers I’ve personally encountered have been nothing but supportive, be they traditionally published or independently published. And yet, I’ve attended panel discussions in which traditionally-published authors insist that that’s the only route to go if I want to be taken seriously. I also recently read and participated in some discussion forums in which readers were downright mean and discriminatory against indie authors. And I already know that know major retail chain booksellers won’t touch my book with a ten-foot-pole because of the aforementioned stigma (and because they don’t really make money from self-published books unless it really breaks out).

Here’s the best and worst thing about self-publishing: anyone can do it. With digital technology and POD companies like Lulu, anyone who wants to write and publish a book can do so, and make it available to the masses. That means there’s a lot of poor quality work out there and, as a result, readers are going to have to sift through all that sand to find the gold.

The best piece of advice I can give is to maintain integrity about your work and yourself as an author. If you want to be taken seriously as an author, then treat yourself like a professional, as if you’re drawing a monthly or weekly salary. Treat your work professionally. That means get feedback and be willing to accept criticism. Form a writers group so that you maintain accountability. Get an editor if you need one. Hire a graphic designer or a publishing consultant if you need to. Be a go-getter, but also know what’s appropriate and inappropriate in terms of approaching an independent bookseller or scheduling a reading or a blog tour. Know the protocols.

As for those who continue to slam all indie authors as hacks, well, they’re not people I want reading my book. Don’t waste your breath trying to convince them otherwise.

Tell us about any of your current writing and marketing events/tours/appearances and what is on the horizon for future writing projects!

Gladly! I’m currently in the middle of a 30-day blog tour for Faking It and would like to do at least one more reading at an independent bookstore to wrap up the promotional tour. I’m also in the process of getting Faking It into at least two more independent stores: one on Long Island (where I’m from), and another one in MA (where I lived for eleven years).

ALSO:

If you have a book club, I’m offering a special: order four or more copies of Faking It from me directly (you can email me at elisa@elisalorello.com, subject: book club) and not only will I discount the order price, but also sign the books. What’s more, if your book club is local to Raleigh, NC, I’ll attend your discussion meeting. If you have speakerphone, I’ll participate in the fun that way.

I’m also preparing to release Ordinary World, the sequel to Faking It. I was originally planning an end-of-summer release, but now I think it’s going to take longer than that. I’d like to get more of a buzz going about it first (enlist previewers, possibly give away sample chapters as teasers, etc.). Meanwhile, I’m working on a third manuscript, this time with a writing partner, which has been a fantastic experience. When that novel is finished, have us back because that is a great story! I don’t think I could collaborate with anyone else.

Faking It is currently available at Quail Ridge Books and Music in Raleigh, NC; Baker Books in N. Dartmouth, MA; Lulu.com; and on Amazon Kindle. For more information about Elisa’s blog tour and other events, go to her blog “I’ll Have What She’s Having” or www.elisalorello.com.

Thanks again!

Be sure to leave a comment or question for Elisa for a chance to win!

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Filed under Author Interviews, books, Fiction, Get Published, Novels, Platform/Marketing, writing inspiration

Book Blog Tour: Mindy Friddle, Author of Secret Keepers

mindyTALK3-797755Today, I am excited to introduce novelist, Mindy Friddle, who brings a seasoned writer’s expertise to the muddle of writing we all face.

Bio: Mindy Friddle’s first novel, The Garden Angel(St. Martin’s Press/Picador), a SIBA bestseller, was selected for Barnes and Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program in 2004, and was a National Public Radio (NPR) Morning Edition summer reading pick.Secret Keepers, her second novel, was published by St. Martin’s Press in May.She lives, writes, and gardens in Greenville, South Carolina where she directs the Writing Room, a community-based nonprofit program she founded in 2006. skeepersorder2

Mindy will be checking for your comments, it’s her “favorite part of blog touring!” So, be sure to leave a comment or question regarding Mindy’s novels, writing in general, or even gardening!(She’s a Master Gardener.)

 

Interview by: Mary Jo Campbell

 
   1. Wow, Mindy, your list of credentials are a novel in itself.  Let’s talk about your fiction awards.  Are you always on the look out for contests that suit your writing style, or is this something your agent or publisher does for you?  How do you prepare your work for a particular contest?  What about a residency contest?

Something I love about entering writing contests: the deadlines. Sounds funny, maybe, but consider two important points:
1. You have to prepare and submit something by a certain date—which can motivate you to finish or polish.
2. You’ll find out whether your manuscript made it or not within a certain time frame. Even if your work didn’t make it this time, take heart. So often when you submit a story or article for publication, you wait a loooong time to find out if it was read, much less accepted. At least in contests, you’ll know for certain if your work was considered or not. And you can move on.
Poets & Writershas an excellent calendar and listing of contests. You can find it at bookstores and also online.

 
 2. I, myself, sit on the board for a national non-profit for young writers and volunteer my teaching for a local non-profit organization for children.  So, your non-profit program, the Writing Room, touches my heartstrings.  Can you tell us how you founded this program, and how much time you now are able to devote to the Writing Room?  How do you seek out reliable volunteers or do they seek you out?

I talked to a local arts foundation, the Emrys Foundation here in South Carolina, that was willing to sponsor a program for writers. So I agreed to direct the program, which offers seminar and workshops to writers of all levels. I’ve recruited some terrific writing teachers, and we offer at least one seminar or class at no charge every season, as well as multi-week intense workshops (from fiction writing, flash fiction, writing for children, and screenwriting) for a range of fees. One of our goals is to eventually raise funds to offer one or two scholarships every season for folks who want to take in-depth writing workshops, but need some financial assistance. It’s a new program, which I spearheaded because I sensed we had an untapped literary community. Our mission at the Writing Room is to “build a community of writers.”

 

 3. Aspiring novelists are often curious how much of a platform one needs before tackling the marathon that is a novel (both the writing and publishing.) “Where to focus our energies?” Can you tell us about your fiction writing credits and platform prior to landing your first book deal for The Garden Angel?

 
I didn’t have much at all, as far as credits. And no platform, really. I hope aspiring novelists will take encouragement from that. You can’t go wrong with focusing your energy on the writing. Easier said, than done—I know! But a set schedule—writing several times a week no matter what—and reading a lot—that will get you far. Also helpful: attending writing conferences and forming a supportive group of fellow writers to read each other’s work.  After winning a fiction award in my state—the first contest I’d won—I attended Bread Loaf Writers Conference. There, I met Julianna Baggott, a generous writer who recommended that I send my manuscript–when I finished it–to her agent. I followed up and queried, and was fortunate to acquire my agent that way.

 
 4. Back to your latest novel, Secret Keepers.  Where did you get the inspiration for Emma’s character and what kind of research was needed to write from the POV of a 72-year-old woman?

 
After I got to know Emma—her background, her yearnings—and observed her actions (which sometimes surprised me) it wasn’t hard to get into her head. I like to think that age, gender, race, class, etc. aren’t obstacles to writers. Yeah, I know– that’s one of those Big Ideas that crops up on panel discussions: Can you really write about characters outside of your own experience/age/gender? YES. Imagination. Empathy, Curiosity. They go a long way.  Also, the omniscient point of view in Secret Keepers allows the reader access to the thoughts of a cast of characters: Emma, but also her adult children, her teenage grandson, a landscaper, and a homeless guy.  I really loved using the omniscient point of view, with a narrator who occasionally chimes in.  I hope the reader does, too.  I have more about the story behind SECRET KEEPERS on my website.

 

   5. On your tour post at The Muffin, you gave great bulleted tips on the process of novel writing: how to be a “weekend writer” and get through the first draft of your novel before focusing on revisions.  What method(s) do you use to keep all of your writing, research and notes organized while pummeling through that first draft? Do you outline; use note cards; have a favorite writing software?
Organize…not one of my talents. I manage piles. I don’t outline, really, but I do take notes on subsequent drafts and revisions. I use notecards to keep track of characters’ basic bios—when they were born, for example—and also to track scenes. If I think a scene is missing—a conversation between two characters that needs to explain something that will figure in later, for example—I make a note of it on a notecard. “Dora and Jake need to talk about Will’s death before we know Bobby remembers…” something like that. Occasionally, when I want to see the big picture and step back, I’ll use flip chart pages to note when things happen—sort of a crudely drawn timeline. That usually happens in revision, when I’m having to nail down details. I think you can find out what works for you as a writer—I love colors, for example. Highlighting my notecards by character is helpful, and using the “highlight” function in Word to figure out what needs to stay [green for me], what needs to be cut [pink], what needs to be moved somewhere else [yellow].  It’s always interesting to see what works for different writers. I’ve interviewed a number of authors, and this topic often comes up. The interviews are posted on my website, on the Interviews with Writerspage, and there’s more commentary on my blog here, and here. I wrote about the zen of writing– you just walk the path– at A Good Blog is Hard to Find
 

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and insights!  Please tell us what is on the horizon and where we can find more of your work:
I’m drafting a novel….and between drafts I sometimes turn to writing short fiction. Please feel free to visit my website and blog for more information on writing and reading, and drop me an email with questions or comments. Happy writing and reading everyone!


SECRET KEEPERS:  strong storytelling, comic touches, prickly family dynamics, and the magical power of nature.

St. Martin’s Press
Read an excerpt at www.mindyfriddle.com
On Sale: 4/27/2009
ISBN: 978-0-312-53702-9
ISBN-10: 0-312-53702-6
Also available: THE GARDEN ANGEL (St. Martin’s Press & Picador)

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Filed under Advice, Author Interviews, books, characters, Fiction, Get Published, goals, Inspiration, Novels, Organization, Perseverance, Platform/Marketing, writer markets, writers, writing inspiration

Summer lovin’

Happy Summer!

Coppertone - 1953 ad

Coppertone - 1953 ad

OK, Summer doesn’t “officially” begin until June 21, which is also Father’s Day this year (and my mother-in-law’s birthday – Love ya, Rose!) But flipping the calendar page to June just sets my warm-weather clock a-tickin’.

School will be out, my work hours will shorten and hopefully the “lazy days” will be relaxing but productive for my writing.  A plan of action needs to be in place, not just for the next few months, but leading into fall and the new school year, as well.  Geez, Mary Jo, you’re saying, isn’t it bad enough that school supplies will be on sale soon? Can’t we just relax and enjoy this slower paced time of year?  

Sure, if you want to starve. Maybe not starve, but you will fall behind while other freelance writers are working their way up the ranks.  Businesses don’t close down for the summer and neither should you. If you’re taking your writing seriously, as a business, that is.  I’ve already emailed the principal of my son’s middle grade school to discuss the possibility of starting an after school writing club. And began plans for National Novel Writing Month, which isn’t until NOVEMBER!

Adjustments to your regular writing routine may be needed and beneficial to you and your family – but don’t STOP writing!

So, what are your writing plans for the summer?

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Book Blog Tour: Danette Haworth, Author of Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightening

Tour #2 on the Summer Book Blog Tour presents an Author Interview with Danette Haworth: author of Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightening

Danette Haworth webshotDanette Haworth was first published at six-years-old, when she created a comic book series starring Peter Pan. These marvelous adventures usually ended with a defeated Captain Hook raising his sword, shouting, “I’ll get you, Pan!” Her mother still has the first edition, so carefully colored and stapled all those years ago.

Danette’s degree in English landed her a job as a technical writer, which was a fun position because she got to play in tank simulators and explain to scientists that possessive its does not have an apostrophe. She later worked as travel writer and a freelance writer/editor.

VioletRaines-coverHer debut novel, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning, was published by Walker Books for Young Readers, Fall 2008 and will be followed by The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness (2010) and Me and Jack (2011).

Danette will be popping in throughout the day, so feel free to leave a comment or ask her a question or two!

Interview by Mary Jo Campbell

MJC: I love your “About Me” page on your website.  Readers can really get a sense of your good nature and humor.  Have you always written light-hearted humorous pieces?  What kind of advice can you give those of us who take ourselves (and our writing) too seriously?

DN: Thank you! When I write, I take on the mood of whatever I’m writing, so light-hearted pieces are great to work with. One thing I liked about Violet Raines was being able to be stubborn and feisty through her character. She’s so bold!

On taking one’s self too seriously—I don’t have any advice! I tend to take things seriously myself, especially things I’ve poured my heart into. My mother can let things roll off her back; not me, I feel every bit of it. I really do believe creative people are sensitive—that’s our weakness and our strength. Sure, maybe we take things too seriously, but we also pick up on nuances that others might miss. We’re a bit more raw in that area, but as I said before, it’s actually a strength and a gift. I would never trade it in!

MJC: Good point. I wouldn’t trade my sensitivity for anything, either! The book video produced by Scholastic Books is exciting!  Can you tell us how you became involved with Scholastic Books for your book, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning?

DN: I received an email from my editor asking me if Scholastic reps could visit and film me for their video. I was like Yeah! Of course! When the crew of three arrived, I felt relaxed, eager. They’d read my book, and I’d read some of the books written by authors they were set to record. The sun shone, birds chirped, and my hair turned out well. Then they turned the cameras on and my mouth went totally dry!

Larry Decker, Scott Bennett, Juan Cruz were professional and nice. They wanted to see the Econlockhatchee River, which was the inspiration for the setting of Violet Raines. I couldn’t wait to take them there. Larry thought it was beautiful, and it is. Oaks and palms hang over the river, forming a canopy in places. Egrets and other fishing birds wade in the shallows for lunch. We didn’t see any alligators that day—I think Scott was hoping for at least one!—but I was relieved, being the smallest and probably the slowest in the bunch.

They filmed for several hours and somehow, in editing, took out all my um, uh, what was the question? They made me look good and I LOVED the lightning effects they added to the sequence. They did a great job!

(Check out the book video here!)

MJC: You said in a recent interview, that Violet just “walked into” your head one day. Did the rest of the story “write itself” or did the characters stump your flow or theme you were trying to follow?  What was your novel writing process in regards to outlining; rough draft writing; research for setting/characters; revision, etc?

DN: When I got a hold of Violet, she was so complete, so real, I could have dropped her into any situation and I would have known exactly how she would react. Boy, was she feisty! I wanted to come up with a story that would be a match for her.

I wrote a brief outline before drafting detailed character sketches, which then led to a full outline taking me all the way to the end of the book. Having an outline keeps me immersed in the book. I know what I have to accomplish today, and when I’m done writing, my mind wanders down the path of where I’ll go tomorrow.

Sometimes a character will pop with something not on the outline, and I follow that new direction to see where it goes. Who knows? There might be something exciting down that way! I never feel dictated to by the outline; I look at it as more of a guide.

As far as research, it’s true you should always research, even if you’re writing about your own backyard. For as well as I know the Central Florida area, I still researched things like lovebugs (When do they swarm? Lovebug—is it two words, one word, or hyphenated?); Detroit and its monorail system; alligators; and, of course, lightning!

MJC: Like myself, many writers have full-time day jobs that take us out of the house, but wish to make that leap to full-time writer.  Can you tell us what steps you took to make the transition and was there anything you wish you knew then?

DN: The transition for me took place when we started having a family; I always wanted to be home when I had kids. But I still wanted to keep my foot in the door, so I took on freelance editing and writing assignments, doing what I liked (and getting paid for it!) while babies took naps.

The main change for me was giving up work I could count on to taking the risk on my dream: writing a novel. I’m so glad I did!

The only thing I wish I knew then is relax! After I sold Violet Raines and the final draft was accepted, I’d never been through a copyedit before or any of the proofreading rounds. I pored over the pages when these things came through; it seemed as if the entire success of the book depended on if I kept this comma or deleted it! I went through the pages with a red pencil, and when I tried to copy the manuscript, none of my marks were visible! So I sharpened my pencil and pressed hard over all of my marks to make sure they’d show up. By the time I got done, the manuscript looked like a toddler had been through it with a red crayon! How embarrassing!

MJC: I’ve read that you are working on a second novel, The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness (another great title!)  Can you tell us a bit about this upcoming novel? Is your writing process with this book similar or different to the process used for Violet Raines?

DN: Thanks for your compliment on the title! The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness is set in north Central Florida, in the hills (Yes! Florida has hills!) near a freshwater spring. In Blueberry Goodness, a girl who lives in a dilapidating, antebellum hotel meets an eclectic group of friends, including a teenage runaway.

My process for this book was different from every other piece of writing I’ve ever approached. I knew the characters; I knew the beginning, I knew the climax, the denouement, but for the life of me, I couldn’t draft the full outline. For weeks, I struggled with trying to format the story arc so I’d have an outline for support. I knew what I wanted to happen in the story, but I was blocked as far as getting it down in outline form, which scared me—I’m used to having that guide.

Finally, I said Forget it! I started writing. Staying on course without the outline was easier than I thought it would be. I still explored new paths when they popped up, but it was easy to recognize directions that were purely tangential. At the end of each writing session, I’d scribble some notes to myself about what I just wrote, what needed to be adjusted, and what needed to happen tomorrow. So instead of having one big outline, I had guidance in bits and pieces, and it worked.

MJC: That is fabulous! You experienced novel success working both with and without an outline.  What advice do you have for young writers who aspire to be published in fiction?

DN: My advice to young writers is to look now for opportunities! With the explosion of online magazines, there are more venues now than ever before for young writers. Do your research; don’t worry (at first) about the paycheck, but look at the quality of the stories being published and make sure you’d be proud to have your story there.

Don’t forget about opportunities close to home: class newsletter, community newsletter, contests or columns for young people in the local paper, yearbook, school blog, etc. All these places provide the experience of writing, being edited, meeting deadlines, and the best one—having other people read and enjoy your writing!

MJC: What else is next for Danette Haworth? Please let us know about your tours, appearances, etc!

DN: The biggest thing for me is finishing up Blueberry Goodness and then moving on to revisions for my third book, Me and Jack, which comes out with Walker in 2011.

I recently filmed a short video for Mom’s Homeroom on encouraging and keeping your children interested in reading. Later this year, I’ll be in Philadelphia to speak at the National Council of Teachers of English conference; next April, I fly to Chicago to participate in the 2010 International Reading Association conference.

In the meantime, I’ll be blogging and updating my website! Please come visit me at Summer Friend or my website, Danette Haworth.

Thank you so much for having me, Mary Jo! It was fun!

Be sure to check out Danette’s website for dates and places of her continuing blog tour…

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Filed under Author Interviews, books, characters, Fiction, Get Published, Inspiration, Novels, Platform/Marketing, writing inspiration

Good News x 2

In reading Christina Katz‘s second great writing resource, Get Known Before the Book Deal, I learned that writers should toot their own horn when they achieve little successes. How else would our readers/followers know what we’re up to?

So, taking Ms. Katz’s advice, I’d like to “toot” about my recent successes in publication and contest entries!

Underwired, a KY based women’s print magazine, just accepted my essay “Cravings” for publication in their upcoming June ’09 issue.  I wrote “Cravings” last September, with a different market in mind. I wrote the essay from my perspective on motherhood and our needs to give in to guilty little pleasures. I wrote, rewrote, sent to my writing buddies for critiques, rewrote again and finally submitted to skirt! magazine, who politely and promptly rejected my essay due to “no space.”

Of course it was a minor blow, equivalent to a small crescent shaped shiner under my right eye, but I went down my list of markets and sent the essay out again, this time to Imperfect Parent.  My essay seemed to fit their tongue-in-cheek humor and bold observations on being a parent without losing your identity. Weeks, then months went by with no reply and an updated message on their website stated they were “backlogged” and no longer accepting submissions.  So, I emailed the editor, again, and professionally stated I’d be pulling my essay from their consideration if I hadn’t heard back by a specific date. No reply and off to the market guidelines I returned.

So, you can imagine my elation when the editor of Underwired replied via email with a “Congratulations! We’ll see you in print…” Not to mention the attached contract that spelled out payment and rights for my publication of “Cravings.”

The lesson in this? Keep moving forward. Don’t lose momentum, don’t lose your faith or your focus. Your essay may be personal to you, but editors have a job to do and though they may appreciate your wit or tone, it may not fit for their publication.

My second “toot” is about another exciting email I received a few days ago, in regards to my fiction entry for the 100 Words or Fewer Writing Contest.  This email said I was at the top of the mountain where the air was thin. My entry “In Father Brannigan’s Room” had made it past two levels of judging and is now in the running for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place! 100 little words, crafted so carefully, rewritten about 20 times, paragraphs cut and pasted in different order to achieve the maximum effect of “wow” in such a small space.  And I deliriously wait,  with little oxygen.

Who thought after writing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where every word counts and even contractions are banished to maximize  number of words, I’d be able to cut out prepositions, articles and adverbs to ruthlessly minimize word count and tell a full story with less than 100 words. An achievement in itself. I’m proud to have even accepted the challenge.

And when the winners are announced in mid-June, I’ll be back to “toot” some more (hopefully!)

Keep writing and submitting my friends! And please share your successes here and EVERYWHERE!

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Filed under Advice, Believe, contests, Creative Essays, emotion, Inspiration, Perseverance, Platform/Marketing

“There ain’t no free lunches in this country…”

“…And don’t go spending your whole life commiserating that you got the raw deals. You’ve got to say, ‘I think that if I keep working at this and want it bad enough I can have it.’ It’s called perseverance.”

Lee Iacocca, Businessman and Former CEO of Chrysler

Love this quote. I think we all have our moments of the “life’s unfair” attitude. But seriously, how would we know our true passions if we didn’t hit a bump or two (or ten) on our way to success?

Perseverance is the path that we must take to develop and live our true passion.

What struggles or speed bumps are hindering your writing goals today (this week, this month)?

I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed in my day job as an Executive Assistant to the Regional V.P. This drags me down, body and mind, for any creative work I had planned for the evening.

I’ve also been procrastinating tedious technical work I need to get done to move forward with my young writers’ summer studio plans for June. And I’ve been putting off a rewrite of an article that should have been finished by now.

Distractions in the form of Facebook, Twitter, Blog surfing & commenting keep me from moving towards my goals, as well. These social medias are excellent tools, when used correctly and in moderation, so as not to take up all of your “working” time.

Perseverance rounds her head again when I sit in my day job cubicle, or in traffic going to or from said job. I know I can’t get different results from doing the same thing. Perseverance is what will blast through those bumps of distraction, overwhelming feelings and procrastination. The innate desire to write and teach full time as a way of replacing my current income  – that big carrot dangling in front of my nose is what will get me through one more day, week or month. To success. To my goal.

But dreaming and wishing and musing is all a bunch of fluff if there is no action behind it.

I learned the other night that just by speaking about my goals of teaching and the local organizations and schools I plan to contact lit a fire under my ass. Talk about it!

I have decided to open my MS Word doc’s ONLY when rewriting or crafting a rough draft of an article. Email and the internet as a whole is too tempting for me if opened in a tab at my bottom toolbar. Set up blinders to focus and blast away distractions!

The technical issue I’m having that is holding back my next steps for my young writers studio is the time to figure out adding a Paypal button to my writelikeCRAZY blog for easier payment of tuitions.My husband, with his knowledge of all things techy, said to ask if I needed help. Well, I asked, I delegated. Get more info to get past the procrastination (or delegate a task you don’t want to do!)

Please share your bumps and how you’ll use perseverance to get over or around them!

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Filed under Advice, emotion, goals, Organization, Perseverance, Platform/Marketing, procrastination, writers block