The Ins and Outs of Writing

If you’re interested in writing, or recently found yourself sucked into it, here are some important things you need to prepare for. Old-timers may also find a gem or two below.

Being a successful book author is a “whole life” plan. It’s nothing like being a machine shop operator or assembly line worker, or even a desk jockey, although you will spend much of your time at a desk. You are not doing the same thing over and over. You can’t survive on knowing how to do only one job. It requires learning as much about the whole industry as possible and keeping up with the constant changes that happen as the internet molds our way of thinking, buying, selling, and communicating. Before long, the daily challenge to be a successful author consumes your whole life.

So, what does an author really do?

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Along with writing, many other skills are required to be a successful author. One must know how to use a computer writing program, most of all. Manuscripts must be formatted to the requirements of different publishers and contests.

We also have to join online and offline groups, purchase programs/memberships that will be helpful in one manner or another. Before long, we’re also attending conferences, workshops, and webinars. If we do not buy into the most popular plans and products, we may be left behind when the writing industry moves forward. Then we scramble to catch up.

It is important to have some understanding of the skills others do for us. This often requires knowing whether we plan to self-publish, use a hybrid publisher, or be traditionally published. Do we need an agent? Some need illustrators or cover artists. Others might need formatters or marketing specialists. Many authors use a video or audio specialist, or both. Learning your publisher’s schedule also alleviates unnecessary frustrations.

Regardless of how you plan to be published, critique groups and beta readers are important for polishing manuscripts. And, all writers need to learn how to work with editors.

We need to determine whether our work is for newspapers, magazines, anthologies, or books. Different publishers have different writing rules, style manuals, and different submission preferences. We even have to learn how to pitch our work to a publisher during a short elevator ride!

Once we learn how to write and submit our stories, we have to learn more about selling them. Most of us start out selling to family and friends. Then we join a plethora of social media sites, schedule multiple book signings, speak at events and purchase advertising online, in printed publications, etcetera. If we’re smart, we also have a “street team.”

If we don’t have a website when we start our writing journey, we soon will. Learning to blog is also important.

During all this shuffling of skills and knowledge, we adjust our schedules again and again. Our family lives can easily be hindered or lost to our careers.

Just when we think we have mastered most of the skills and sit back to draw in a nice, long, relaxing breath, a new skill is required, we see something we missed along the way, or some fantastic new product, group, or idea comes along. Being the good authors we are, we must learn this new thing. And, so we get after it before we can exhale that beautiful breath we just took.

Somewhere along the way, our health comes into play. For many authors, health doesn’t become an issue until something serious happens or the doctor gives an ultimatum. Or both. So, we find ways to fit healthy foods and almost daily exercise into our plans. By this time, many of us already have physical limitations, so this can create a downhill domino effect if we do not take it seriously. Ultimately, most of us learn that a health plan of some sort must be added to our busy schedule. (If you’re just now starting out, please take this into consideration and plan ahead.)

How can you find your place in this constantly shifting field?

If you are an aspiring author, prepare to take on these challenges. Learn what you can about each stage as you move into it. Although many things different as times change, so try to stay in touch with the writing community.

If you’re a trailblazer, find your area of expertise and create new paths for other writers to follow.

If you’re a friend or family member, try to imagine what your writer is going through. Share their successes with your friends and family. Writers NEED your support. They can get overwhelmed in this craziness, and it’s nice to know someone close to us is paying attention. One of the best things you can do is acknowledge their career choice as a real job and help them set aside time to meet their daily challenges.

Need some great gift ideas for a writer? That’s my next post, so stay tuned!

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The Whirlwind of 2017

I apologize for being absent for half the year. I have been working on a lot of stories, including some of my own. I’ve also been to some exciting events, this year.

In May, I spent a weekend with a couple of friends at the OWFI Conference, in Oklahoma City. We had so much fun! I hope we are able to share a room again, next year.

The next week, I was honored to be a presenter for the second annual Read. Write. Share! Writers’ Weekend in Morrilton, Arkansas. I critiqued short works which had been submitted and shared some of the finer points with those in attendance. What a powerful weekend! I’m looking forward to next year’s event.

In June, I presented a session about the Secrets of Writing for Children to a room full of interested writers at the 73rd Annual Arkansas Writers’ Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. I hope to speak at this event again. I also represented 4RV Publishing at a vendor table and took a few pitches.

October will find me at the 51st annual Ozark Creative Writers Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I’m hoping to submit a good number of contest entries, and for the third year, I am sponsoring the Middle Grade Fiction for Boys contest. I’ll also be representing 4RV Publishing in Publisher’s Row for the second year.

As always, Gene and I have dedicated much of the summer to our grandchildren. They are growing like weeds and have become great helpers with bigger projects.

I bought a Kool Kart four-wheel surrey (pic below) from International Surrey Co., this summer. When the weather permits, Gene and/or I (and sometimes a grandchild) take off riding for our health. When I spend time on the surrey, my blood pressure stays much lower. I slept for most of a month while it went down. As much as I enjoy my time on the surrey, I look forward to having a small engine installed to help me climb the steeper hills when I need to go to town. If you check out the website and decide to purchase a vehicle from the company, please tell them I sent you. That motor is not going to be cheap to build, and I get a check for every sale I help happen.

Due to numerous requests to put a class or two online, I’ve promised to work on that project. I’ve also set up a traveling workshop for groups within a 200 mile range. Check out the website for more information. I’m also taking an occasional short story or children’s story to edit on the freelance side. No novels at this time. Sorry.

I’ll do my best to write sooner, next time.

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Falling into the Publishing Industry

Did you start the new year on the right foot? I didn’t. I started 2017 on my left foot and two crutches.

A couple of days before the end of the year, I did the splits–unintentionally. For five days, I could not straighten my right leg. On that fifth day, a monster-size bruise showed up on the inside back of my thigh. The doctor said I had a severely pulled hamstring. Now, I walk with a crutch to remind me not to get in a hurry. When I rush, my leg threatens to throw me back on the floor. I don’t EVER want to do that, again.

If you are a writer in the OK AR TX KS MO area, you can’t afford to miss the upcoming Meet the Publishers! event on March 6th in Tulsa, OK. Designing the World with Words and Tulsa Area Children’s Book Writers are bringing SIX area publishers together to answer authors’ questions and offer tips from self-publishing to traditional publishing. (Click here for more information.) This FREE event is open to ALL writers. As usual, we are expecting an audience from multiple states, again.

Have you seen the latest publishing news? Tate Publishing and AWOC.COM Publishing  have sent their authors scrambling to find new publishers. Are you one of those authors? If you are, you can’t afford to miss the publishers event mentioned above. Don’t sign a contract with anyone else until you hear what the six experts have to say about the future of publishing.

I’ll be speaking at multiple events, this year. You can find me at the Read.Write.Share! event in Morrilton, AR, the Tulsa Genealogical Society meeting on March 20th, and the Arkansas Writers’ Conference  in Little Rock, AR. I also scheduled a number of writing workshops. I expect to find serious writers at all these events. See my schedule for a full list of places I plan to be.

I’ve decided to offer mobile writing workshops, this year. One person will receive free registration in exchange for organizing each event. Simple requirements must be met, of course. For more information, visit Designing the World with Words and click on the “Mobile Workshops” link.

Have you entered any writing contests, lately? If not, you should. You can’t win money and awards if you never submit your work.

The Summer Scoop

So, here’s the scoop. It’s summer. It’s HOT. We’ve had our grandchildren over, one by one, for two weeks, each. Well, the last one has been more in piece-meal visits. He’s a homesick boy, so he has to go home for a day or two in the middle. He’s at home, today. I miss him, but I have a moment to myself, too.

I hope you’re writing. If not, I hope you’re putting together some fabulous event for writers, or marketing your latest books. Do something writerly, today.

I’m working on last minute preparation for the Writing for Children workshop I’m holding this weekend. I’ve had some folks write in about it, which is always encouraging. At least two may be driving in from a little distance. I plan to offer some information not always shared by other speakers. I have some great door prizes for this week. If you’re interested, there’s more info at this website.

I found another conference I’d like to check out this September. I added it to my list of area events on my LINKS page. Are you going to any conferences, this year? Did I miss any area writers’ conferences in my links?

The new school year is about to start in most places. Some of my grandchildren will be going to new schools. I’m excited, but nervous for them. It’s almost like I’m the one going to the new schools.

I better get back to my planning. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone on Saturday.

 

Conference Fears

Have you ever had the opportunity to go to a conference in your area of expertise, but you chose to stay home? Why? There are many reasons people don’t attend conferences and conventions. Here are a few.

1. Finances… Not everyone has the money to pay out hundreds of dollars for an event they aren’t even sure will help them. If you look around, you’ll find some events are more affordable than others. Check into them.
2. Fear of looking stupid… Don’t even allow this one to bend your brain. It’s not worth it. Everyone who attends a conference has a first time. Why do we keep going? That’s discussed soon enough. But fear of looking stupid is not an allowable excuse.
3. Fear of being found out… All of us feel a little under-educated in our field in the beginning, and sometimes later on. If you’re afraid you won’t know things others know, don’t worry. Plan on letting everyone else answer any questions at your first conference, unless you are absolutely certain of the answer. Silence while paying close attention to the speaker looks good on anyone.
4. Fear of not knowing anyone… Ask around to see who’s going. If you can’t find anyone you know who’s going, and you don’t like to go alone, bring a friend–even if you have to share a room or pay for part of their expenses.
5. Fear of big places or crowds… This one is a little harder to help you through, but if attend with a friend, it will help you focus more on learning and sharing with your friend and less on feeling swallowed in such a big atmosphere.
6. No time… Make time. Most conferences are worth every penny you pay and every minute you give up. Ask a family member to watch the kids for a couple of days. Find out which events are the best in your industry and region. Make it a point to attend one or two of those a year. If you can manage a trip to one or two of the best known national or international conferences, go.

What will you gain if you attend a conference that you can’t gain through a workshop or discussion with friends in the industry? Why do so many others attend conferences? Why do they keep going, again and again? What makes it worth all that?

1. Vital connections… Even if you don’t speak to them (but you should!), you will learn who makes things happen and has achieved the highest respect in your field. When you have questions or needs, you will feel more comfortable contacting them and asking for advice or references.
2. Surprises… Most likely, you’ll know more than one person at the event, especially if it is local. It doesn’t matter if you’re only acquaintances. If they know it’s your first time at that particular event, they’ll often introduce you to other professionals you need to connect with. You may have new friends when you return home.
3. Special offers… Sometimes, just being at an event gives you an opportunity to take advantage of special offers only given to those who attended the conference.
4. Support… A conference is about helping others achieve their highest goals in the field. It is about learning, sharing, and friendships; being part of a camaraderie in a larger field than the one you have been playing in, so far.
5. KNOWLEDGE… When you leave, you will most likely know much more about some things than you knew before. At the very least, you have gained confidence in your own skills and insight and that’s worth the trip, in itself. And that confidence will show in your everyday work, too.

If you’re a writer, editor, publisher, or even a reader who wants to know more about the field, you should attend a good conference or two each year. If you’re around northeastern Oklahoma, I have listed a few of the area events on my LINKS page. If you want to go to the same conferences I’m attending, you can find them listed on my EVENTS page. Let me know if it’s your first time and I’ll gladly spend a little time helping you adapt to the format and meet others who will help you along.

If you’re into people-watching, try sitting near the sign-up tables at a conference and watch as attendees walk near, but seem to be taking in too much at once. It makes many of us look lost, even if we’ve been there for the past three years. So, don’t be afraid to walk up and look lost with the rest of us. We’ll never know you’re a conference newbie unless you tell us. And since we’ve all been there, we understand how overwhelming it can seem compared to how simple it really is.

See you at the next conference!

I am currently packing to attend the Arkansas Writers’ Conference, in Little Rock, Arkansas, this weekend. Will I see you there? I hope so!

Read.Write.Share! Writers Weekend — and Family Appreciation Day

It’s here! I can’t wait to see everyone at this great event. I am driving in from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Will you be there? I hope so. We have some wonderful things planned.

We have Iris M Williams, Brittany Reese, Janis Kearney, and ME lined up for sessions that will give you the head start you need in the publishing world. I can promise there will be lots of discussion!

I may have a very special surprise with me. I’m not sure, yet.

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On Saturday, April 9th, Gene and I will be celebrating our “best friends” anniversary. We’ve been best friends for 30 years, now. Because of the trust that grew from that friendship, we will also be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary in August. So, we have always called April 9th our FAMILY APPRECIATION DAY and encouraged others to use it for that, as well. Buy a simple, inexpensive gift for each of your family members, or go somewhere special together, just to celebrate how lucky you are to have each other. A single rose, a good book, a tank of gasoline, or just an afternoon free of housework can do wonders for a person. Show them how much you appreciate all of them. Make it an annual event… every April 9th. That’s when you’ll see we are celebrating. Always.

To my wonderful husband… If you happen to read this, I’m still very thankful for every year we’ve had together. I couldn’t think of a more handsome, more wonderful man to spend my life with. (I hope that’s okay with you.) I’m sorry I won’t be home until late, but you will be on my mind all day and I’ll be looking forward to hearing your voice on the phone! I love you!

 

Meet the Publishers! Monday, March 28th

To all authors, publishers, illustrators – anyone who wants to know:

Meet the Publishers! is coming to Tulsa in mere days. Learn how the publishers work with your books in different settings. This is a FREE event.

Monday, March 28th, 7:00 PM
Martin Regional Library (Auditorium)
2601 S. Garnett Rd., Tulsa, OK

Website: http://jespiddlin.com/designingtheworldwithwords/meet-the-publishers.html

See you all there!

This year’s event is brought to you by Tulsa Area Children’s Book Writers and Designing the World with Words.

Also…
– COMING ON APRIL 8TH AND 9TH –
In one fabulous weekend, learn how to take your manuscript from the first draft to book signing. Register soon! Time is running out! (Click on the flyer for more info.)

Read.Write.Share! Writers Weekend

 

Tulsa – Meet the Illustrators! Monday, March 14th

As the organizer of Tulsa Area Children’s Book Writers, I started a new thing, last year. I decided to introduce my writers to some local illustrators  and give them an opportunity to ask questions. It’s back this year and open to the world.


To all authors, publishers, illustrators – anyone who wants to know:

Meet the illustrators this coming Monday evening and bring all your questions! Learn how the illustrators work with your books in different publishing settings. This is a FREE event.

Monday, March 14th, 7:00 PM
Martin Regional Library (Auditorium)
2601 S. Garnett, Tulsa, OK

Website: http://jespiddlin.com/designingtheworldwithwords/meet-the-illustrators.html

See you all there!

This year’s event is brought to you by Tulsa Area Children’s Book Writers and Designing the World with Words.

Designing the World With Words – Editing Workshops

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Click on the pic to learn more about the workshops.

Don’t miss Stop the Head Hop on Saturday, June 27th, 2015.

The 2015 Hustle Begins

A lot is going on for me lately. In January, I set up a MEET THE ILLUSTRATORS! Night for a couple of local writers’ groups. We enjoyed learning the information they shared.

In March, I have called together a panel of five area publishers who will answer questions at a MEET THE PUBLISHERS! Night in Tulsa. That event will be at Martin Regional Library (in the auditorium) on Monday, March 9th, 6:30 PM. If you come, bring questions.

On Saturday, March 21st, I will be offering a workshop in Broken Arrow, OK, called EDITING YOUR FICTION STORY. Writers will learn fun, easy editing tricks to expose the real story behind the words. Find more information at http://jespiddlin.com/designingtheworldwithwords

THE ADVENTURES OF DAYTON BARNES – A middle grade fiction anthology to entertain ages 9-12. The submission deadline has been extended to the end of March. A lot of wonderful stories have been submitted. Some have been accepted, some have been rejected. Find more information about submitting, visit http://jespiddlin.com/DaytonBarnes/submit

ANYTHING GOES, VOLUME 2 is a multi-genre, unthemed anthology that promises to be just as good as Volume 1 from last year. The authors are working hard to bring you an exciting collection of stories this summer. Yes, I am editing this volume, too.

I have a few writing conferences to attend this year. Will you be attending any? Which ones? Good luck with any contests you enter and at all the conferences. Learn as much as you can and share!

I am editing a very interesting story for 4RV Publishing that will be coming out in just a few months. I’ll let you know when it is published.

Don’t forget to write notes on the back of people’s business cards that you collect, to help you remember special discussions, etc.. It makes them feel special when you recall conversations and know where you met them.