Since my last post there have been a lot of changes in my personal life. Changes that I’m not going to go into here. Suffice it to say they have taken up a lot of my brain and heart space and so blogging has been low on the priority list.
What came in high on the priority list this week was my workshop preparation for the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. That presentation, “Desire in the Middle Grade and Young Adult Novel,” went very well (if I do say so myself). I was honored to spend the day with seven aspiring writers who braved five hours with me at the Patten Free Library in Bath, ME. Together we explored model texts including Julie Berry’s; All The Truth That’s In Me, Linda Urban’s, A Crooked Kind of Perfect; Ingrid Law’s, Savvy; and Alan Cumyn’s, Tilt.
We asked questions, challenged ideas, reviewed manuscripts, wrote, revised, and even meditated. The day was a success!
Now I’m looking forward to my next presentation. May 2nd, I’ll be at the NESCBWI Annual Spring Conference presenting a workshop called, “Active Mind, Active Body.” We’ll be exploring the connection between physical activity and creativity, developing physical and creative goals, and crafting plans to achieve our goals. Finally, we’ll be doing some gentle physical activity (stretching, dance, yoga) to jump start fun writing activities. Register today!
If you were in my workshop today, share your learning, a new epiphany, or something that went well in the comments below.
If you are coming to NESCBWI New England introduce yourself in the comments and get your own badge here.
My Maine Writer’s and Publishers Workshop, Desire in Middle Grade and young Adult Novels, has a new date and time. Instead of two three hour sessions we are compacting it into a single five hour session on March first at the Patten Free Library in Bath, Maine. Click the picture or text link above for more information and registration. I can promise you a kick-ass lecture with examples from wonderful books, and one on one attention. If you know a someone in or around Maine who might be interested, please send them the link to this blogpost. Retweets and Facebook postings are encouraged!
“[E]xperience has taught me that you cannot value dreams according to the odds of their coming true. Their real value is in stirring within us the will to aspire. That will, wherever it finally leads, does at least move you forward. And after a time you may recognize that the proper measure of success is not how much you’ve closed the distance to some far-off goal but the quality of what you’ve done today.”
A super congratulations to Erin Hagar who won the Totally Awesome Teacher/Reader Guide. I happened to know that in addition to being a wonderful writer, Erin is also a wonderful educator. I look forward to working with her on a Guide to meet her needs!
THREE TIPS FOR RUNNING AN ONLINE GIVE-AWAY (or do what I say, not what I did.)
By the time I unveiled my teacher/reader guide contest on February 7th, I had been thinking about it for weeks months. I had already worked diligently on a guide for Melanie Crowder’s, PARCHED so I’d have an example guide. I had developed the content for the information page and the downloadable PDF. I had researched Rafflecopter. Really, I had spent many hours on the project. Here’s the thing… no one else knew that I was spending hours on the project. I never dropped any clues or hints. Unless you have an amazing following, you need to get the support of those who already do. Ask them to drop teasers for you in the days leading up to the contest. Use your own social media to hype the contest and its benefits to possible entrants. Send an email to your most influential friends (research their following) asking them to use their social media as well. Guest post on other well-known blogs to promote the contest and what you are giving away. That way, when you unveil the contest, people will be waiting for it… nay, chomping at the bit to enter.
2. Have well-defined and simple goals for the contest.
I knew my goals for the contest. I wanted people to learn about my new Teacher/Reader Guide service that is perfect for busy authors/illustrators who want focus on their creative work and leave the marketing and peripheral writing to another professional. I wanted to boost my Twitter following. I wanted to boost my blog following. In hindsight, this was too much for a mid-list blog contest. My most important goal was to inform people about the new service. I should have designed the contest with this focus. Ideally people would have shared the blog post with others and gotten something for themselves. If they commented with the link to their own social media post, it would have potentially boosted their traffic as well.
3. Make it easy for people to enter.
I’d seen Rafflecopter work really well on other blogs and was excited to use it. Here’s the thing. WordPress.com doesn’t support the Rafflecopter widget. That meant that in order to enter, people had to follow a link away from my blog post and then come back. IT IS RARE THAT PEOPLE WILL CLICK BACK. If I’d had simpler goals, I wouldn’t have needed Rafflecopter at all. I’d rather have a single entry from many rather than multiple entries from the same person. A simpler procedure would have increased entries.
I hope this is helpful to others who are considering a contest. Tell me what you think below!
The other day I went for my first psychic reading and there were many moments during the hour that I was completely blown away by her uncanny knowledge of me and my family.
Okay. I know that half of you are spitting chewed pretzels into your hand as you laugh hysterically. Don’t burst my little bubble here. Just go with it. I also know the other half of you are nodding your head quietly. Either you’ve had a reading or you’ve always wanted to.
I’ve always wanted to. I’m a very head oriented person so I bring a healthy dose of skepticism with me, but I also grew up in the New Age 80’s near Takoma Park, MD and went to the Western hills of North Carolina each summer. (Yes I had a pouch with crystals and spent some time in a sweat lodge.)
As I’ve aged into Motherhood, and adult responsibilities I’ve grown out of those practices. According to the psychic– I’ve also lost my intuition and my joy.
My intuition helped me make decisions that led me on the path to joy. My decision to go to VCFA was very intuitive. It was completely the right thing to do. I looked at Ingrid’s Notes the other day and saw her amazing list of accomplishments. A year out of school, intensely focussed on revising and marketing my manuscript, I had to remind myself that just last year I had a similar list. VCFA doesn’t talk about the market. They don’t talk about agents or publishing if they can help it. Coming into the school I hated the practice. What was I paying for if not a route to publication? Now I pine for the focus on craft, the feedback of trusted advisors, the regular visits with people I love and trust. If only I could have that safe space again.
As much as I might want to, I can’t go back to VCFA as a student. (I’m still paying off loans.) What I can do is remember the joy of writing. I can believe that I have all the resources I need to be successful. I can let go of my fear and anxiety. Write more. Trust my intuition (muse) in my work.
Okay. Let’s be honest. The NaNoWriMo people should have chosen any month other than November. Why?
Pre-December Agent Rejections Responses
Yes, I should have written while I was traveling with my two children to visit my family who were finally together after years and years of being in various places– but I didn’t. Now I have a flat line the size of the Colorado Plateau on my NaNoWriMo graph. It’s embarrassing but here it is.
The funny thing is that I can see a pattern. A few days off, then some productive days. I get stuck on a plot twist, talk it out with someone, then get back on the horse and ride. The other day, my friend Laura of Silver Freckles jewelry fame was offering custom wording on the wonderful pendants she crafts. Here’s my bummed-out comment and her heartening response.
So much of life is about showing up. It is about plunging into cold water, straddling a horse with its own agenda, boarding the bus on the first day of school, or putting your fingers on the keyboard and typing the first words of a novel. Even if we set goals, even if read and research a topic, plan a story or essay, or learn about a new activity, the fact is that someday we have to actually show up ready to do it.
In my current WIP, the main character has been avoided learning to swim because other things, running in her case, is easier. But when we are off-kilter in our learning, when we face disequilibrium, and challenge what is comfortable, we learn and grow and find a sense of achievement.
If you’ve showed up and plunked out a few words for your NaNoWriMo project each day, take a bow. Celebrate. You showed up. The more you show up, the easier it will be and the higher your word count will be.
It is day two of NaNoWriMo and I’m already 1,667 words behind. I will not apologize. I’ve had an especially productive month. I sent out a re-re-re-re-revised draft of my manuscript to agents and have already gotten one request for a full. (NYC agents- I hope you and yours escaped the worst of Hurricane Sandy.)
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that for the last few weeks I’ve also been deep in grant writing mode. Yesterday I got my AROHO application official postmarked and sent! I’ve had wonderful support from friends. A special thanks to Women’s Studies/Sociologist professor, friend and fellow student of the world, Kim Simmons whose tweets kept me going! The best part was this wonderful email from the AROHO group:
You’ve made the commitment. To yourself, to your work, to the world. This is the beginning. Thank you for cultivating your creative vision and sharing it with us. We are honored. Your proposal is one step closer to being shared with the world. A world that is waiting.
Now I know that everyone gets this email, but there was something about this idea… making a commitment to myself and my work. It’s a commitment whose real beginning was about a decade ago. Let me tell you, it is a hard commitment to keep. It often comes with guilt and self-doubt. Yesterday, when I handed over that envelope, I was more sure than ever that the commitment I made was the right one.
So with that commitment firmly in place, I embark on the next project. This month I’ll be posting things that inspire and inform me. Today– two blog posts on organizing your daily writing to meet your goals.