Monday, May 30, 2016

Encore Presentation: WRITERLY WISDOM series






***I have a number of writing deadlines coming up over the next couple of months so I have decided instead of stepping away from my blog completely to concentrate solely on my writing, I will bring back an encore performance of my WRITERLY WISDOM series from three years ago. WW is 52 glorious posts by authors, agents, and editors from around the country providing writerly wisdom in categories from why even become a writer all the way to how to publish and market your books.



There will be two posts loaded per week...Mondays & Wednesdays...so be sure to stop by and check out all the encouraging information given by my lovely writerly friends! I hope you enjoy the encore presentation of my WRITERLY WISDOM series and I will return with shiny, new posts in the fall!***
 
 
Social Networking Enough Already…When It Hinders Your Writing
By Donna M. McDine


As a society we are bombarded with technology at every angle. Often times overloading our brains with too much information. No matter what type of business world you travel in, it has become a constant buzz of checking our email and voice mail at a frantic pace, and hanging out on social media networks to the point that our face-to-face communication suffers.

Personally, I’ve come to the decision I need to turn off the technology to rejuvenate my creative juices for my writing. When I say turn-off, I don’t mean completely, but with limitations. I always write my first draft of an article or new manuscript long hand with my favorite pen. In my case, my Graf Von Faber-Castell pen. Yes an indulgence but oh so worth it! Using this method to write away from my computer greatly reduces my temptation to check email every 30 seconds and surf various social media networks.

Over the years I have forced myself to get to the task at hand and write first, marketing second (yes, I know many feel social networking is a form of marketing, but when you spend the majority of your time socializing with peers and not connecting with your readers what’s the point?), researching publishing markets and blogging (which is a form of social networking) and in my opinion instrumental in developing one’s platform. How to build your platform is a topic for another day.

It’s wonderful to connect with people through social networking whom you most likely would have never met otherwise, however if you allow social networking to become your “job” you risk valuable writing time that could result in the next “big” book!

Yes, utilize social networking but with responsibility. Do you want to concentrate on honing your writing skills and writing the best manuscript possible or have hundreds of thousands followers on your social networks with no concrete publishing credits to show for your efforts? You decide what’s important to you. I made my decision to get out from behind my computer and engage in-person with members of my community who are instrumental in getting the books in to the children’s hands, librarians, teachers, parents, after school program directors, etc. The end and continued result is my business relationships have soared.

Good luck and expand your outreach beyond your computer!








About Donna M. McDine: Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions, Literary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval Recipient Picture Book Early Reader, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book Fiction, and Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Books ~ The Golden Pathway.









Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna has four more books under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing, Hockey Agony, Powder Monkey, A Sandy Grave, and Dee and Deb, Off They Go. She writes, moms and is a personal assistant from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network, and Family Reading Partnership. Visit www.donnamcdine.com.

 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Encore Presentation: WRITERLY WISDOM series






***I have a number of writing deadlines coming up over the next couple of months so I have decided instead of stepping away from my blog completely to concentrate solely on my writing, I will bring back an encore performance of my WRITERLY WISDOM series from three years ago. WW is 52 glorious posts by authors, agents, and editors from around the country providing writerly wisdom in categories from why even become a writer all the way to how to publish and market your books.


There will be two posts loaded per week...Mondays & Wednesdays...so be sure to stop by and check out all the encouraging information given by my lovely writerly friends! I hope you enjoy the encore presentation of my WRITERLY WISDOM series and I will return with shiny, new posts in the fall!***
 
 
To Blog or Not To Blog: A few thoughts on writer blogging, the hows, whys, pleasures and pitfalls
By Beth Stilborn

As writers consider how to “build our platform,” we often ask, “Should I have a blog or a website? What should I blog about?”

Blog or website? I suggest you start with a fairly simple blog, one that allows for “pages” behind tabs. You can move to a full website later, if you choose. An example is Julie Hedlund’s website. Julie started out with a blog but as her career in writing expanded she had a website built which includes her blog and much more.

What platform should I use? Many companies provide blogging capabilities, and each has advantages and disadvantages. For most bloggers, I think either Wordpress or Blogger is simplest. Both offer free blog-hosting and are customizable.

Blogger offers Google Friend Connect, an easy way for people to follow your blog, flexibility in pages and add-ons, and good statistics information.

Sylvia Liu has suggestions to make your Blogger blog more like a website.

Wordpress is comparable, but without Google Friend Connect. I found Wordpress.com to be limited in widget capabilities (which allow for lists, and other add-ons along the sidebar.) It provides some flexibility, and good statistics.

Wordpress.org is the paid version, which gives widget capability, but few statistics, and less flexibility for post appearance. It’s a seesaw of positives and negatives, whichever you choose.

What url to choose? I advise you to use your name for your blog address, in the way it is (or will be) used on your books. That allows a reader, editor or agent to find your blog easily. Purchase your name’s url even if you’re not ready to set up your blog or website.

Content: The content of your blog is the most important consideration. It is what you write that will attract people to your blog and keep them coming back, not the appearance.

What do you have to share? What will show your area of expertise? Does much of your writing focus on a topic such as sports or science? Incorporate that. You don’t have to stick exclusively to one topic, but let that special interest show through so that a reader – or editor or agent – sees the basis for the focus in your writing.

Joanna Marple has a particular interest in endangered animals, and Miss Marple’s Musings highlights this in many creative ways. Patricia Tilton’s blog, Children’s Books Heal, focuses on special needs kids.

You may say, “I have too many interests to narrow my blog so much!” So do we all, but for building a platform it’s best to highlight one or two areas.

Some people, like Susanna Leonard Hill, find ways to reach out and involve others through their blog posts. Her Would You Read It Wednesdays and Perfect Picture Book Fridays allow an eclectic platform.

Cautions: It’s great to blog about the writing process, but leave giving actual writing advice to the experts.

It’s best not to post your manuscripts (in part or in whole). Besides the potential for plagiarism, many editors consider something to have been published once it’s on a blog, and don’t want to publish something that’s already freely available. To demonstrate your writing abilities, it’s better to use writing that you don’t plan to submit.

Copyright: Simply stated, if it isn’t yours, don’t post it on your blog without permission. This applies to photographs and artistic images as well as writing. Just because you can find a photo through google images doesn’t mean it’s okay to use it on your blog. Use a site that offers images for legal free use or a service such as Fotolia through which you can purchase licensing rights to images.

To read more of what I’ve learned about copyright, check out my three-part blog series.

Brevity: This post notwithstanding, brief posts are best. The sweet spot is about 500 words, although sometimes a post will be necessarily longer.

It’s easier on your reader’s eyes if the paragraphs are kept brief.

Scheduling: Schedule one, two or three posts a week. If circumstances prevent you from blogging, give your readers a heads-up.

Overkill: You may have many things you want to say in separate posts, or many books you want to review. Space these out over the weeks. Six or seven blog posts coming in from the same person over a period of a couple of hours can cause a follower to delete without reading after a while.

Format: You’re competing for people’s attention with thousands of other blogs. You need to catch their interest with a hook sentence and keep their interest with a good post.

Keep your font simple, not too large or bold, easy to read. Note: light text on a dark background is very difficult to read. A “busy” background or sidebar can detract from the overall effect of your blog.

You can learn much about format at Laura B. Writer’s blog. (Search for the word critique in her blog’s search box.)

Comments: Comments are one of the perks of blogging. It’s common courtesy to respond to comments left on your blog. (When you get to the point that your posts have a couple of hundred comments on them, we’ll cut you some slack!) Comments build friendships, community, and that all-important platform.

Some people use Disqus for the comments on their blogs, which allows them to respond both on their blog and via email. I’ve heard positives and negatives about Disqus, but have not used it myself.

It is also crucial to read other people’s blogs and comment on them. The more you involve yourself with others’ blogs, the more they’ll involve themselves with yours.

Purpose: A personal blog can be random. A writer’s blog needs to have focus.

What do you want your public to know and what is it not necessary for them to know? They don’t need to know that you cleaned the bathroom yesterday – they do need to know what sort of a writer you are, what drives your imagination, what you read.

What would you want an editor or agent to see if they checked your blog? Heed this agent’s post – don’t air your dirty writing-laundry on your blog.

For more about blogs, check out Kristen Lamb’s post on blogging in which she calls it “an author’s most powerful social media tool”, and Robert “My Name is Not Bob” Lee Brewer’s blog.

Joy: Blogging can be, and usually is, a joy. It is a great way to hone your writing skills. It is a way to build community as you interact with your readers and reach out to other bloggers. I wish you that joy!






Beth Stilborn lives in a prairie city, and writes in a converted bedroom in her apartment, but she’s often elsewhere in her imagination! Most, but not all, of her writing projects (picture books, chapter books, middle grade fiction, adult fiction) include a focus on the arts, particularly theatre and music.

Beth blogs about “reading, writing, the arts and life” at By Word of Beth. She is a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers), the Saskatchewan Writers Guild, the online Children’s Book Hub, and 12 X 12. Along with Emma Walton Hamilton, she is co-host of the Children’s Book Hub Facebook Group.

You can find Beth at her blog, http://www.bethstilborn.com
 


 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Encore Presentation: WRITERLY WISDOM series



  ***I have a number of writing deadlines coming up over the next couple of months so I have decided instead of stepping away from my blog completely to concentrate solely on my writing, I will bring back an encore performance of my WRITERLY WISDOM series from three years ago. WW is 52 glorious posts by authors, agents, and editors from around the country providing writerly wisdom in categories from why even become a writer all the way to how to publish and market your books.


There will be two posts loaded per week...Mondays & Wednesdays...so be sure to stop by and check out all the encouraging information given by my lovely writerly friends! I hope you enjoy the encore presentation of my WRITERLY WISDOM series and I will return with shiny, new posts in the fall!***
 
 
Social Media - Made for Illustrators!
By Hazel Mitchell


I often hear writers say, "Illustrators have it easy on social media". Sorry writers. I guess it is much easier for us to engage with folks instantly - we have all these beautiful illo's we can share, to catch the eye of the viewer and make it easier for us to interact. It IS like the internet was made for us!

Humans love to look at pictures. This world we live in revolves on visual media. Before we read the written word, we are more likely to look at pictures and then have an instant impression of the written content. It's how we learn to communicate from an early age. To read the signs around us.

That's what we do when we read a picture book - flick back and forth between the story and the illustrations. As illustrators we are ALWAYS telling a story.

Luckily the internet is geared towards posting pictures.

FACEBOOK - probably the biggest arena for social networking. It's a reality that posting a picture with a short description will get you more 'shows' on the newsfeed of your personal/business page. And don't forget the wonderful TIMELINE BANNER. A great way to showcase your work FREE. Here's the thing ... don't just stick your book covers on Facebook, with a link to buy. (Only do that OCCASIONALLY!!) Share interesting stuff that your contacts can connect with. Sketches you did in your spare time, process, photos, research as well as full blown finished pieces.  Be a REAL person and people will look forward to your posts. Reply to poeple who are kind enough to make a comment. It's rude not to.

TWITTER - now lets you post photos and many more opps to display your art. As with Facebook, make your posts interesting, not hard sell. I try to reply to tweets ... if it's too much, slow down on posting.

LINKED IN - you can now link and post photos here, as well as join groups and share work.

PINTEREST - has to be one of the most visual spaces on the internet these days and growing. Share images with friends, keep boards of your work and subjects you are interested in.

YOUTUBE - Video is even more interesting - if it moves, we are more likely to spend time watching. Try your hand at making a video. Even with a webcam or slideshow you can achieve alot. Could be your process, a look at your studio, a book trailer, your portfolio! Be creative. Check into Webinair if you want to run interactive sessions or work shops.

INSTAGRAM - Online photo sharing/editing with great sharing abilities!

FLICKR - Cool place to store your images, share with other people and create galleries.

ETSY - sell prints and signed books here.

MAIL CHIMP (and other mail services) - keep in touch with a newsletter and illo's.

There are other places to post your images: Google+, Myspace, Illustration Friday, Illustration Mundo, Behance, and any number of portfolio sites.

As an illustrator you will certainly need a website. If you're starting out, this is going to mainly be a showcase for your illustrations. You'll direct people there from any promo information (physical and online). If you are published it will begin to morph into a place where people can see your books, find out about your visit schedule and news, maybe a place to sell prints.

These days a blog is sometimes used in place as a website - and is often FREE. A plus for sure! See Wordpress, Tumbler, Blogspot to name a few.

Blogging is still a great way to connect with people. If you are posting an image on line you might want to link back to your blog post and enlarge on the process you use, or give more detail about the image.

RULE ONE - Make sure that in some way or other anything you post on line links back to a blog, a website or information that ensures the viewer can discover more about your work.

RULE TWO - Make use of any tags and metatags available to you when posting images.

RULE THREE - Your job is to make great illustration and story. Social networking is part of your marketing strategy. That most of it is FREE is a bonus. WORK SMART!

RULE FOUR - If you don't enjoy it, don't do it. It's not a requirement.
  
So. How can you make the most of the opportunities available? And why? If you are a new illustrator then your reason for posting may be to get your work out there. The more places people can find you - the more likely you are to be found. What you are doing here is also playing the search engines. The more times your name appears online the more pages will fill up when people search for you. Simple, right? It's about building a presence online. If you're a seasoned professional, you want to be more visible and bring your books and work to a larger audience, to let people know about your appearances and visits. Decide what information you want to put across and who you're targeting. Are you looking to build connections with the children's book industry or with readers, or both?

There's a lot you can do. Maybe you will just choose to do one part of social networking well and that will be your focus. That's great! With so many ways to connect with the world, one of them is sure to float your boat.

It's not for everyone. My own experience is that as well as getting my work into the professional arena, I have learned so much from fellow illustrators and writers. I have found opportunities and workshops that would otherwise have passed me by, and at times talking to likeminded people has proved indispensible in an otherwise isolated profession. Remember - give something back.

RULE FIVE - Embrace the good in social media!

RULE SIX - None of this is compulsory!






My latest book '1, 2, 3 by the Sea' by Dianne Moritz, was published by Kane Miller.


Many thanks and see you online!

Hazel
  




Hazel Mitchell is an award-winning children's illustrator. Originally from England, she now lives in Maine, USA.  She still misses fish and chips and mushy peas, (but is learning to love lobster). She has two dogs, two horses, a cat and several snow shovels.

If you'd like to talk to say 'hi' please email me hazel-mitchell@hotmail.com

Publishing clients include Charlesbridge, Makinac Island Press, ABDO, Kane and Miller, Freespirit, Beacon Publishing, Reading A-Z and SCBWI.









tweet me @thewackybrit



Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Encore Presentation: WRITERLY WISDOM series







***I have a number of writing deadlines coming up over the next couple of months so I have decided instead of stepping away from my blog completely to concentrate solely on my writing, I will bring back an encore performance of my WRITERLY WISDOM series from three years ago. WW is 52 glorious posts by authors, agents, and editors from around the country providing writerly wisdom in categories from why even become a writer all the way to how to publish and market your books.


There will be two posts loaded per week...Mondays & Wednesdays...so be sure to stop by and check out all the encouraging information given by my lovely writerly friends! I hope you enjoy the encore presentation of my WRITERLY WISDOM series and I will return with shiny, new posts in the fall!***
 
 
 
Choose The Right Social Media For You  
by Donna L Martin
 

I  can remember when I first started writing professionally during the winter of 2010.  There was so much to learn and one of the things I kept hearing was “You’ve got to build an author platform.”  But what exactly did that mean?

Six years later I don’t feel quite so ignorant about the plethora of social websites a new or established writer have to choose from.  Below, I’ve listed ten of the most commonly used platform building websites an author should consider.


1)    Blogging...a type of "online journal" supported by sites like Blogger or WordPress where writers can connect with "followers".  Blogging gives the most flexibility to write about whatever might be of interest to you, not just about the writing itself.
2)    Facebook...a social media site where you, and millions of others, can connect with friends, family, and potentially unlimited followers from all around the world.  You can even create separate "author" pages to promote your books as well as "fan" pages to encourage interaction amongst your readers.
3)    Google Plus...a fairly new social website, Google Plus began in 2011 and is used by more than 100 million people per month with a total of over 400 million active users.
4)    LinkedIn...this site is promoted as a professional networking social website.  Writers can connect with other professionals, join discussion groups, post resumes and clips of their work, as well as go job hunting themselves.
5)    Pinterest...one of the newest social sites, Pinterest uses "pinning" and "bulletin boards" to connect it's 10 million monthly users with similar interests. It can be used to give readers insight to a writer's other interests as well as a way to showcase a writer's work.
6)    Quora...this is a very useful site for writers, especially of the nonfiction variety.  You can post your own research question and allow others to answer it or you can showcase your own expertise in a particular subject by replying and connecting with over 100,000 monthly users.
7)    Reddit...registered users of this social news website submit copy or links to be voted on by other users.  The larger the vote, the higher the rank, which determines the story's position on the site's pages.  Not really set up for posting blog entries.
8)    Tumblr...this social site is known for it's picture sharing.  Page views are in the billions as teenagers and young adults "reblog" and "like" posted images.
9) Twitter...writers who can condense their message into 140 characters or less will find this microblogging site perfect for them.  Writers can use it to keep their followers updated with the latest info about their work and to connect in other ways. 10YouTube...this extremely popular social network is used primarily for video production, vlogging, movies and music. With over 800 million unique views each month, writers can tap into an almost unlimited source of potential new followers if they understand the video technology.    

Looking at this list, a new  writer might be tempted to throw their hands up in frustration.  Some writers struggle to make time for writing at all and now they are expected to become multiple social media participants as well?

Here are some questions to ask before deciding which social websites to join:

1)    What do you want your online presence to do for your platform?  Do you want to connect with potential readers?  Maybe market your latest book?  Even generate additional monthly income?  How you honestly answer these questions determine which social media avenue will help you the most.

2)    Are you trying to be an expert in a certain area?  Your content on a new blog could showcase your expertise.  If you’re an illustrator, a Pinterest account or WordPress website can spotlight your best work for future clients to view.

3)    Who are you, anyway?  The person you are as a writer or illustrator IS your brand or product you are trying to sell to the world.  Blogging gives you the most freedom to express yourself through your posts while sites like You Tube provides a way to be even more expressive.

Bottom line is you don't have to jump onto every social networking site out there.  Decide what type of platform and message are you really trying to create before you choose one of these sites or maybe one I haven't listed. Maybe a Facebook fan page to begin with while you visit some blogs or LinkedIn accounts to get a feel for how things work.  Agents and editors who are interested in your work will google your name to see what your platform consists of, but one or two strong sites are much better than a dozen poor ones. And since you will have to find the time to devote to whichever site(s) you participate in, there is only one person who can choose what's best for you!




Donna L Martin has spent many years hanging out with her cat, Tommy, and perfecting the worlds in her imagination. She writes engaging children's books, middle grade adventures, and young adult novels. When Donna is not training for her Master Fifth Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo or helping run her martial arts school in Tennessee, she is working on her latest writing project. Donna is an active member of SCBWI Midsouth and participates in a variety of online communities.


Some of the ways you can reach her is through Facebook (www.Facebook.com/donasdays), Twitter (www.twitter.com/donasdays), Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/donasdays) or email (www.donasdays@gmail.com).  

Monday, May 16, 2016

Encore Presentation: WRITERLY WISDOM series

 
 
 
 
***I have a number of writing deadlines coming up over the next couple of months so I have decided instead of stepping away from my blog completely to concentrate solely on my writing, I will bring back an encore performance of my WRITERLY WISDOM series from three years ago. WW is 52 glorious posts by authors, agents, and editors from around the country providing writerly wisdom in categories from why even become a writer all the way to how to publish and market your books.

There will be two posts loaded per week...Mondays & Wednesdays...so be sure to stop by and check out all the encouraging information given by my lovely writerly friends! I hope you enjoy the encore presentation of my WRITERLY WISDOM series and I will return with shiny, new posts in the fall!***
 
 
 
Never Too Late To Become A Writer
Darlene Foster

A goal without a plan is just a dream.

Many of us dream of being a writer. After all we have tons of ideas. We spend years talking about it, fantasize signing our books, and envision people saying, “I read your book and loved it.” But there is always an excuse.  We are too busy working, raising kids, keeping a house, volunteering, looking after grandchildren or aging parents; the list goes on. Then one day there is a bit more time and we say, “Now I’m too old to write a book. If only I had started years ago. Its too late.” I have heard this many times.

I was one of those people. I had so many excuses for not sitting down and writing a book. I took writing courses and attended seminars, wrote a few short stories and submitted to the occasional contest, but the idea of writing a book was too daunting and I often felt I left it too late.

Then I went on a fabulous holiday to the United Arab Emirates and decided I needed to write about it. It worked best for me to write my story from the point of view of a twelve year old and target it to middle readers.  Although I was already in my fifth decade, I was still busy working a full-time job, tutoring part-time, volunteering and sitting on a few boards. How was I going to fit in the time to write a book?

I came up with a clever plan.  The plan was to write the book in three years; a realistic time frame for me. How was I going to do this? I planned to write one chapter a month by writing one hour a day. By breaking it down into doable steps, it was not so difficult. I simply eliminated watching television for one hour every evening.  Soon my friends and family understood that I could not be disturbed for that one hour. If I missed one day, I would write for two hours the next day.

My plan worked. At the end of three years I had Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask completed and ready for submission. It took another 5 years to find a publisher, but I persevered. In those five years, between researching publishers and writing query letters, I continued to write and completed, Amanda in Spain-The Girl in the Painting. After all, I was used to writing at least one hour a day.

Now in my sixth decade I have three books published, I have organized numerous book signings and people of all ages have approached me saying, “I love your books. I hope you write more.”  I write two hours everyday now and managed to write my latest book, Amanda in England-The Missing Novel, in one year.  I am working on the fourth novel as we speak and have many more ideas. There is no stopping me now!

The lesson I learned is that it is never too late and you can never be too busy, to make your dream of writing come true – if you make a plan and stick to it. As a much wiser person than I once said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” -C. S. Lewis









Biography of Darlene Foster
dreamer of dreams, teller of tales
 
Darlene Foster is a writer of children’s stories, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, reading, shoes, cooking, sewing, music, chocolate, walking on the beach and making new friends.  Her grandson calls her “super-mega-woman-supreme”.  She was brought up on a ranch nearMedicine HatAlberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people.  She lives inTsawwassenBC with her husband Paul and their black cat Monkey. 
 
Darlene has always had a desire to write. She has published three books for middle readers, Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask, Amanda in Spain – The Girl in The Painting and Amanda in England – The Missing Novel,recently released.
 
She believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true!
 
Her website is www.darlenefoster.ca