The Life of a Writer-in-Resident
This week my son was in his basketball playoffs – five games in four days. And since it was the play-offs, these games weren’t at the elementary school gym. Oh no, we were traveling 20 minutes to the “big” gym at the high school. So we logged a lot of car time and passed the time posing questions to each other. One of my son’s questions was: If you could have any wish, what would it be? My answer was three months of uninterrupted writing time. No job, no laundry, no walking the dog. Oh, the luxury!
In light of my wish, when I received an email from Louisa Stephens of the Associates of the Boston Public Library about their Writer-in-Resident program
I couldn’t resist learning more about it. According to Stephens, the fellowship provides a $20,000 stipend, an office in the library and nine months of writing time to a children’s writer. Now, the commute from Pennsylvania to Boston would be a bear for me but for another WOW reader out there it could be a possibility. If you could see yourself as the eleventh Children’s Writer-in-Resident, applications are open until April 1. You can find the application here
. And if not, why not start searching for writing fellowships in your state? I know I am!
To learn a little more about what it’s like to be a Writer-in-Resident, I interviewed Annie Hartnett
, the current Writer-in-Residence and Elaine Dimopoulus
, a former Writer-in-Residence.
WOW: Tell us a little about what you were doing before winning the Writer-in-Residence award with the Associates of the Boston Public Library?
Before the fellowship, I was studying for my MFA in fiction at the University of Alabama. Before
Alabama, I got a MA in English literature from Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English, and I worked several odds jobs, including one at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, which ended up being a big inspiration for my novel.
I had earned my MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College, and I was teaching children's literature as an adjunct professor at Boston University and Simmons.
WOW: How did you come to apply for the Associates of the Boston Public Library Children's Writer-in-Residence appointment?
During my thesis defense at Alabama last spring, there was some talk by the professors on my committee as to whether my novel-in-progress, Rabbit Cake, was for a young adult audience or not. My MFA program was not targeted at writers of young adult literature, so it was an interesting conversation, one I hadn't had before. Then I saw the fellowship with the Associates of the BPL posted on Erika Dreifus's blog and thought: why not throw my hat in? Let someone else tell me whether it's a young adult book! (And actually Rabbit Cake probably isn't going to end up as a young adult novel, but more on that in a moment…) I'd also been to a psychic who told me there was a big creative opportunity coming my way soon, which I know makes me sound totally nuts. Still, it would only be really nuts if she'd been wrong...right?
I had previously earned an emerging artist grant from the St. Botolph Club in Boston. My writing teacher and mentor at Simmons, Hannah Barnaby, was the inaugural writer-in-residence at the Boston Public Library. She encouraged me to apply to the residency and recommended me. I owe her a huge debt of gratitude!
WOW: Walk us through your average day as the Writer-in-Residence.
The fellowship requires me to spend nineteen hours of the week in the office at the library, divided however I choose. I'm also a bookseller at Newtonville Books, so I work around my schedule there.
The office is magical. It's a quiet, beautiful room, with a marble staircase and mahogany panels. And a window! Plus a computer and a desk. The resident before me (Hollis Shore) kept a bean bag in the corner, but I can't imagine bring a bean bag on the subway with me, so I just sit at the desk. No one can see me working, which is how I like it. I need absolute quiet to work. I don't even listen to music. I never write in public spaces, because I hate talking to people when I'm in the fog of my own world. Before you think I'm a big grouch, I do go into the main library often, but only to read.
As for community outreach, I am going to be holding a free workshop for teens at the library during the month of June. (if you or someone you know would like to participate, please email me: email@example.com
). I am also teaching some classes this spring at Grub Street, including a six-hour course called "The Adult in Young Adult: Writing Sex and Violence for Teens." I'm excited about that one! I'm trying to incorporate more teaching into my writing life.
I would take the train in after rush hour -- usually around 10 a.m. -- and write until 3 or 4 p.m. I usually ate lunch in the BPL's Map Room Cafe. It's quite delicious! I changed offices midway through the year, but both were fairly secluded. I did participate in outreach, though: I met with the head YA librarian and conducted some college essay writing workshops for teens, at the main branch and at a Roxbury branch. I also held "office hours" in the teen room, so I could chat with some of the kids.
WOW: How do you feel the award has helped with your novel? Was it mainly having the financial aid or did having that title give you additional motivation to finish your novel?
The financial aid was great, I'm not going to lie. It's given me a lot of time to write that I would not have otherwise been able to afford. But the title of writer-in-residence was motivating, and very validating. It gave me hope that someday people other than my own mother would want to read my book. The welcome reception the Associates of the BPL held for me in October was so wonderful too. It was so fun to hear people laugh at all the parts of the book I read that I wanted them to laugh at.
The title was amazing -- I felt like Miss America for the year. The accountability piece, having to hand over a completed manuscript at the end of the residency, applied a gentle pressure, but the most valuable way in which the residency helped my novel was making me come in every day to get it done.
WOW: What is your novel about? Can you tell us how the idea for this novel evolved?
Rabbit Cake is a darkly comic coming-of-age novel. It is narrated by Elvis Babbitt, a very precocious ten-year-old girl obsessed with animals. The book begins as the Babbitt family copes with the strange and tragic death of the mother, who recently drowned while sleepwalking. Elvis’s older sister, fifteen-year-old Lizzie, is a sleepwalker as well, with tendencies towards nighttime violence. When the father sends Lizzie away to a mental hospital, Elvis find solace at the zoo where she volunteers. Lizzie is released from the hospital three months later, her wild spirit seeming broken. With Lizzie on the couch all day, Elvis tries on the “bad sister” role, until the day Lizzie reawakens, emerging badder than ever. The novel ends two years after the mother’s death, when Elvis is twelve. It is a novel that plays with the concept of a “normal grieving period” after a loss.
Some of the novel came from my own obsessions, with animals, and with Elvis Presley. When I was little I used to say my prayers to Elvis. I don't know why my mother didn't have me locked up then.
Eco Chic is told from the points of view of two characters – Ivy Wilde, a Miley Cyrus-type manufactured pop star, and Marla Klein, a talented fashionista who has been elevated to being an arbiter of taste and trends for the masses – the story explores high fashion and the cult of celebrity, in a world where staying young and trendy are the keys to success.
The novel's title is now Material Girls. The idea originated observing fashion trends at a private girls school in Pennsylvania where I taught... and watching a lot of Project Runway!
WOW: Was your novel started before you began the writer-in-residence program? Where are you in the writing process?
Rabbit Cake was my MFA thesis at Alabama, and when I defended last April, I had 40,000 words completed, and a rough narrative arch. Last year it was a finalist for the McSweeney's Amanda Davis novel-in-progress award, which was another big motivator for me to keep working on the book. As it stands now, the novel is 80,000 words, and it's been rewritten and overhauled several times. I signed with an agent this January--Katie Grimm at Don Congdon Associates--and she helped me revise again and now the book is nearly ready for submission. I feel a little sheepish about this, but my agent hopes to sell Rabbit Cake as literary fiction, and not as a young adult novel. I trust she knows what she's doing, of course, but I certainly am hoping it will have crossover appeal to teens. I think I would have loved this book when I was sixteen, and I hope other sixteen-year-olds that share my weird, dark, sense of humor will love it too. Rabbit Cake is sort of similar in some ways to Carol Rifka Brunt's "Tell the Wolves I'm Home," which is a great novel for either teens or adults. I think teens should read adult books, and adults should read young adult books. The categories are not exact prescriptions, just a shelving category in the bookstore.
Truly, one of the best things the fellowship has done for me is that I've read so much young adult fiction this year, which I wasn't doing during my MFA. One of my favorite recent reads was "No One Else Can Have You" by Kathleen Hale. It's so dark and funny and smart. It's about the murder of a teenager girl in Friendship, Wisconsin. Five stars.
Oh and as for the question if would I be at the same place in my writing process without the fellowship? No way! Finding an agent in itself was a full time job. Anyone who is querying agents right now, my heart is with you.
I had written six chapters before I started the residency. I finished the draft in March or April of my term, revised it, and submitted it to agents. I was offered representation, and the novel went through two further rounds of revision before being picked up by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for publication in Spring 2015. I'm thrilled. It's hard to say whether I'd be in the same place had I not earned the residency, but the confidence of knowing that esteemed writers and editors believed in the project was a huge boost.
Now I’m preparing for my book launch! And writing and teaching, still. I primarily teach courses in writing for children and young adults at Grub Street, Boston's nonprofit creative writing center. I'm working on a picture book and a middle grade novel, which I'm hoping will be published after Material Girls!
WOW: What did you learn during the writer-in-residence program?
I can write a book! That was a great surprise!
I would say the best benefit was that the award taught me how to be a writer. I had to come in and write even if I wasn't in the mood, even if I had no idea how to begin a scene, even if I would rather have stayed in bed. Because of this training, I don't fear writing the way I used to, and I don't procrastinate as much. I know if I sit down in front of my computer, I can find my way around problems in my writing projects, and I know that I will, eventually, finish them. It's empowering.
Jodi Webb is still toiling away at her writing in between a full-time job, a full-time family and work as a blog tour manager for WOW-Women on Writing. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For Jodi's take on reading and writing (no 'rithmetic please!) stop by her blog Words by Webb.
Labels: Annie Hartnett, Associates of the Boston Public Library, Elaine Dimopoulos, writer-in-resident, writing awards
Your Blog is Your New Resume
How often do you blog?
It's a valid question for writers and one worth thinking about. Honestly, I used to blog one main story a week - generally my newspaper column that's printed in several weeklies - and I would add a post or two to promote work in other publications.
I didn't have the time to blog daily because- here goes - I feel like I'm spread thin the way it is, so squeezing time to blog every day, plus promote it on social media sites, makes me even more tired.
It's not that I don't want to blog, but I manage a weekly newspaper (which means I write multiple articles a day), I teach journalism classes, and I have family responsibilities. Something has got to give; unfortunately, it looks like it's my blog. I haven't posted anything since the day after Christmas. Yikes!
But I've been thinking, and reading, that a writer's blog is a writer's new form of resume. It showcases your work and in some respects, shows how much time, thought and effort you put into a piece.
It's true. Your blog (or website) is your calling card, your introduction to the world, so you want to make a good first impression. Otherwise, why would you expect an editor or agent to take interest in you and your work?
Looks like my Saturday will be spent updating my resume. What about you?
by LuAnn Schindler
Labels: blog as resume, blogging, LuAnn Schindler, resume
Friday Speak Out!: Making the Choice between Parenting and Pursuing Your Passion for Writing
by Stephanie Romero
Anyone who is a parent (or knows one—which would qualify all of us), is well aware of the mommy wars that can happen. You know the ones I’m talking about…homeschooling versus traditional schooling, stay-at-home mom versus working mom, co-sleeping versus let ‘em cry it out and well, the list could go on and on.
But there’s another battle that can emerge when it comes to mothers who are writers. It is the pull between parenting and pursuing your passion. Somehow we’ve been convinced that we must choose one or the other. Or we have to wait until a “season” or “stage” in our child’s life has passed. Yet the next one could prove to be more difficult and time-consuming than the last. So we remain stuck. Or we end up feeling guilty because we’ve made what we perceive as the wrong choice.
For too long, mothers have been convinced that when they choose something else to pursue (other than parenting), they should feel guilty. As if being a mom is the only identifying factor in her life. When the truth is that we are so much more. We have passions that go beyond motherhood, so why not embrace them?
Do you ever feel guilty about writing? I have been there. When I’ve been holed up in my office downstairs for hours at a time, knowing my full attention isn’t always with my children. So I have to remind myself—this is not only my passion, it’s my job
. I get paid to do this—which means someone is expecting me to produce. I’m teaching them responsibility and something about hard work.
But the same thing can happen when we want to take time to break away and work on that novel, polish up the manuscript or write a blog post. The guilt monster sits on our shoulder, needling away at us. “What kind of mom are you?!” And we’re back to believing that in pursuing our passion as a writer, we have somehow failed as a mother.
Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we do it to other women? Because we believe the lies. We have fallen into that trap, the one that tries to convince us we are not being a good mom if we are passionate about something other than our children. Of course, it’s all about balance. But that’s a different topic for another day.
The point is, I feel like women need permission to be excited about something else in life. To understand that the beauty of being a woman extends beyond motherhood. You can be a mother AND a writer. You might have to write during naptime, in the middle of the night or while they’re at school. But for heaven’s sake, don’t wait until the “right time.” Do it now. You really don’t have to choose between parenting and pursuing your passion for writing—there is a way to have both.
* * *
Stephanie Romero is a professional web content writer for "We Do Web Content." Her personal blog, "REAL Inspiration for the REAL Writer" provides weekly encouragement to writers of all genres. But her biggest passion (and what she hopes to one day turn into a book) is helping other moms (and even dads) learn how to treasure every moment with their children. Through her own candid experiences in parenting, she shares how faith has helped her navigate the ups and downs of parenting. In addition, she is the writer/instructor of "Recovery from Abuse," an online course currently being used in a correctional institution's character-based program.
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
Labels: Friday Speak Out, guilt, motherhood, Stephanie Romero, writing and parenting, writing passion
Interview with Paranormal Romance Novelist Molly Harper
Molly Harper has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and the stranger the better.
It worked—she’s turned her quirky sense of humor and magical characters into one successful book series after another. After working as a reporter and church secretary in her native state of Kentucky, she decided to try her hand at paranormal romance, landed an agent and has been writing prolifically ever since.
Molly is the author of How To Run With a Naked Werewolf, A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses
, and The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires
as well as many other paranormal romances. She also writes the Bluegrass series of contemporary ebook romances, most recently, Rhythm and Bluegrass
. A former humor columnist and newspaper reporter, she lives in Kentucky with her husband and children. Visit her on the web at MollyHarper.com or at SingleUndeadFemale.blogspot.com
We were thrilled when Molly agreed to chat with us about her work, where she gets the ideas for her stories, and the television show cancellation that she is still mourning to this day.
Interview by Renee Roberson-----
WOW: Molly, welcome! First of all, I want to point out how much fun I had browsing through your website, and I love that you include different music playlists inspired by your different books. I like to do that too when I’m writing fiction. And the Half-Moon Vampire Name Generator was a blast—I have now been christened Morgana, Princess of Darkness. We’d love to hear about what you were doing when you first found out an agent wanted to represent you. And did you pitch that first book as a stand-alone or as a series?
I was working as a secretary for a Baptist church at the time and when my agent, Stephany, called I ran out to the church parking lot. I didn’t think the pastor would want to overhear me discussing my vampire romance novels outside of his office. I pitched Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs
as the first in a three-book series. I knew when I wrote the first title that I had much more to say about Jane. I just didn’t know it would go on for four books and even more spinoffs.
WOW: I love it. One of the things that first struck me was your impressive catalogue of books. Wow! Can you give us an idea of what your writing schedule is like? Do you have any fun "working from home" stories you can share with us?
I just started working from home in February 2012. I wake up around six, check my reader emails and try to take care of my social networking stuff. I get my kids up and ready for school, then run to the gym or jiu jitsu lessons. Then I write from 10 to noon, have lunch, and then back to writing until my kids get home around 4. If I have a deadline, I usually write during the evenings after dinner. I set a writing minimum of 2,000 words each day. I am just now getting my own office. I have written all of my books from a couch. I am really looking forward to having a desk!
I guess my one funny “writing from home” story involves my hair. I hit my rebellious phase late in life and have dyed the “underside” of my hair bright purple. I went to volunteer at my kids’ elementary school about a week after I dyed it and one of the little girls from my library group gave me the “deer in headlights” eyes.
“Miss Molly,” she gasped. “Did you know the back of your hair is purple?”
“Yes, sweetie,” I told her. “I dyed it last week.”
“Who told you that you could do that?” she asked.
“Well, I’m 35 and can pay for the hairdresser to dye it, so…”
“But won’t you get in trouble with your mom or your boss or somebody?” she asked.
“I work from home, so I don’t have a boss. And my mom isn’t really surprised by anything I do anymore.”
“Oh.” She nodded. “OK, then.”
And off she toddled, assured that my hair wouldn’t get me fired.
WOW: You eventually transitioned from vampires to werewolves. Can you tell us a little about how you got the idea for your popular Naked Werewolf series?
There was a huge ice storm in January 2009 that knocked out power to thousands of homes, including my own. I packed up food, essentials, my infant and my preschooler and moved over to my in-laws’ house, where they had a gas fireplace. We slept on a mattress in front of the fireplace for two weeks while my husband worked twelve-hour emergency shifts at the police department. I was cold, exhausted and I could feel the walls closing in on me. After the kids went to sleep, I would sit down and write about my weird, claustrophobic feelings. I knew I wanted to write a book about werewolves and I thought, why couldn’t the werewolves be from a cold environment like Alaska? And why couldn’t the main character be a Southern girl who wasn’t used to living in those conditions? By the time the lights came back on, I had more than twenty pages of notes that became How To Flirt With a Naked Werewolf
WOW: I love it when writers can turn even the most difficult of circumstances into works of fiction. I know I was stuck in an ice storm about ten years ago and did nothing but wallow in my misery! You started out your career working for a newspaper in Kentucky. Did any of the stories you covered there ever find their way into any of your books?
Not so much specific stories, but the overall weirdness of the stories I covered. I covered school bus crash derbies. I covered the escape of a fully-grown brown bear that a man kept as a pet in his basement and was on “Bear Watch” for almost two weeks. I covered the arrest of a Florida man who faked his death by shark attack, hit the road and ended up working for a pizzeria right down the street from my office. That quirky charm oozed its way into my story-telling and heavily influenced the way I write about Half-Moon Hollow, the setting of my vampire stories. I often say that Half-Moon Hollow is my hometown with all of the normal people removed.
WOW: I love the story on your bio about the first book you ever wrote at age eight. Could you please share it with our readers?
I was always fascinated with my mom’s manual typewriter from college. When I was eight, I set up a little writer’s office on my parents’ couch (foreshadowing) and pecked out a short story about my class taking a trip around the world and losing a kid in each city. One boy fell off the top of the Eiffel Tower. Another girl fell into the canals in Venice. Mom was concerned, but entertained.
WOW: I read on your website that you are a big fan of vampire movies and TV shows. What are some of your favorites?
I wrote Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs
because I was in mourning for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I also love “Angel,” “Lost Boys,” “Moonlight,” the original “Fright Night,” “From Dusk 'Til Dawn,” and the Keanu Reeves version of “Dracula.”
Don’t judge me.
WOW: Somehow I knew Buffy was going to come up in that answer . . . And as someone who is completely addicted to current CW show “The Vampire Diaries,” I also cannot judge! You’ve turned writing about the paranormal into a successful career. What advice can you give writers about writing paranormal romance?
Keep it grounded in reality. Yes, it’s great to write about fantastical creatures and magic, but your characters have to share common ground with the reader. I enjoy writing about paranormal creatures with everyday problems because there’s something weirdly funny about a vampire worrying about taxes and shopping for dental floss. I think that has allowed my readers to put themselves in my characters’ shoes and enjoy that skewed reality.
WOW: In the FAQ section of your website, you mention you speak to book clubs and schools "Advice For Writers." Can you elaborate on the section called "Don't Act Like a Lunatic?"
Almost every agent I know has a story about an aspiring writer doing something extreme, like sliding a manuscript under a bathroom stall to them or sending an absolutely insane response when their manuscript is rejected. Writing is a business. Yes, it’s a dream come true to have a book published, but it’s still a business. If an agent or publisher rejects your work, it’s not personal. It’s business. So behave in a professional manner and avoid becoming a cautionary tale that industry types tell over lunch.
Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor who also works as a blog tour manager for WOW-Women on Writing. She’s currently looking for blogs to promote Frances Caballo’s book Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers Who Want to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write. You can contact her at email@example.com.
Labels: How to Run With a Naked Werewolf, Molly Harper, Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs, Pocket Books, Renee Roberson, Simon & Schuster, Writing paranormal romance
Everyone's Talking About Sisterhood (and The Moon Sisters book giveaway)
The Moon Sisters
is about will-o-the-wisps, trainhopping, and unrealized dreams…but mostly it’s about sisterhood. So we’re celebrating the release of this novel by gathering some of our favorite bloggers to share their take on sisterhood. First up is Therese Walsh
, author of The Moon Sisters
, who is visiting The Muffin to tell us about sisterhood in her family.
by Therese Walsh
|Sisters Forever: Aimee, Therese, and Heather|
I have two beloved sisters, both younger, and our interactions with each other—the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful—are all reflected in the story of The Moon Sisters
. They’ve also helped to create some of the most memorable moments of my life.
I was eight when my first sister was born, and shortly thereafter—which trying to figure out the mechanics of a diaper—I stepped away from the changing table and my sister rolled over (a new trick!) and fell onto the floor. She wailed as I panicked. I lied to my mother about what had happened until guilt got the better of me, and then I fessed up and apologized.
Sisters can get you into trouble.
Never step away from a changing table.
Once, when that same sister was older, she took our youngest sister’s favorite pair of pants and drove them to an embankment and threw them into a stream. Our youngest sister had been driving her crazy for one reason or another, and retaliation had seemed a good option at the time. But somehow, some way, my youngest sister knew—just knew—that our middle sister had taken the pants. Not only that, she had a feeling where those pants had ended up. She actually found them, filthy, wet, at the bottom of the ravine.
Sisters know things. Don’t try to prevent this knowledge.
Life with sisters is made up of a million little moments when you’re all living together under the same roof. Waiting together for the ice cream truck. Trying to cheer one another up with crazy antics like dancing stuffed animals. Food experimentation. Secret-telling. Talk of love and sex and politics and health and family and life and death. Everything. Secrets are rare, and the bond can be extraordinarily strong, even when sisters are miffed with one another.
Honesty—it’s the way of sisters, even when it causes conflict.
Now that we’re all grown, we’re just as close as ever. Maybe closer. We’ll never again wonder if that missing CD is in someone else’s bedroom or what happened to that pair of pants!
Last summer I had a health scare, which thankfully turned out just fine. While one sister, in town, visited with me and soothed with face-to-face contact, my other sister, from away, communicated by phone and sent a constant stream of positive thoughts in my direction. Both strengthened me during one of the most tenuous times of my life.
Sisters can be maddening and nosy, and supportive and loving. My sisters are a vital part of my bedrock, and my life with them has helped to define me in complex and significant ways.
Do you have a sister story to share? I’d love to hear it.
About The Moon Sisters
In The Moon Sisters
, her second novel, Therese Walsh
wanted to write about one sister’s quest to find will-o’-the-wisp light, which was her mother’s unfulfilled dream. Also called “foolish fires,” these lights are sometimes seen over wetlands and are thought to lead those who follow them to treasure. Despite the promise, they are never captured and sometimes lead to injury or even death for adventurers who follow them. The metaphor of that fire – that some dreams and goals are impossible to reach, and that hope itself may not be innately good – eventually rooted its way into deeper meaning as the Moon sisters tried to come to terms with real-world dreams and hopes, and with each other, in their strange new world.
Olivia and Jazz Moon are polar opposites: one a dreamy synesthete, able to see sounds and smell sights and the other controlling and reality driven. What will happen when they are plunged into 24/7 togetherness and control is not an option? Will they ever be able to see the world through the other’s eyes and confront the things they fear the most? Death. Suicide. The loss of faith and hope. Will they ultimately believe that life is worth living, despite the lack of promise?
The writing of The Moon Sisters
was a five year journey and at times author Therese Walsh felt like it was her own “foolish fire.” But remember, some fires are worth the chase!
Hardcover: 336 pages (also available in e-formats)
Publisher: Crown (March 4, 2014)
Read a review of The Moon Sisters
on the Muffin here
***** BOOK GIVEAWAY *****
Thanks to Therese who is giving away a print copy of The Moon Sisters
. Just enter the Rafflecopter form below to be entered in the drawing.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Want more chances to win? Visit all the other bloggers talking about sisterhood today to enter.
Who else is talking about sisterhood?
The blogs listed below have all decided to share their stories, essays, poems, photos, or other means of creative expression on the topic of sisterhood. We really have no idea what bloggers will come up with, but we can't wait to find out! So check out the blogs listed below and see what they're up to!
The Unfaithful Widow
A Ponderance of Things
One Sister’s Journey
Words by Webb
Mother-Daughter Book Club
Vickie S. Miller
One Writer’s Journey
A Book Lover’s Retreat
I Love to Read and Review Books!
Traveling with T.
Me and Reading
Cassandra M’s Place
The GaGa Sisterhood
Deal Sharing Aunt
Thoughts in Progress
Labels: book giveaway, Everybody's Talking About Sisterhood, group blogging, sisterhood, The Moon Sisters, Therese Walsh
What People Think Matters (When It Comes To Your Website)
Last week, I heard an agent refer to the importance of a “thoughtful online presence” and at first, the phrase zipped right past me. Yeah, yeah, a website. Got it.
But then, I needed to check a list of author websites. And as I pulled up each name, that phrase came back to me. It was easy to see who had a thoughtful online presence—and who did not. By the time I’d finished checking a ton of websites, I’d learned a few things. But mostly, I learned that a little bit of thought can make a big difference in what people think when they see you on the web.
Like what, you say? So
glad you asked:
If you want people to think you’re a dependable writer who’s on top of things, then keep your website information updated
. That means posting regularly if you have a blog. If you just can’t get around to posting but once or twice a year, then do yourself a favor and take the blog off your website. (But if your blog is
your website, make it static with no dates.)
If you want people to think you’re a professional, skilled writer, then keep your website free of spelling and grammar errors
. It’s fine if you have a misspelling as a play on words or if your writing style is conversational in a blog post. But if you have “Welcome to This Writers’ Home’s” in your web title, in big, block letters, you might need to brush up on those pesky possessive rules.
If you want people to think you’re witty or urbane or spiritual or any number of other interesting things that you are
in real life, then put your personality/interests into your website.
With a blog, it’s easy for your voice to come through. But people don’t often stop to read a handful of blog posts. They will, however, click on that “About Me” tab, so there’s your chance to make a good impression. And if you’re not sure what kind of impression you’re making, ask for honest feedback from friends. (Or better yet, ask someone who doesn't know you well.)
Finally, choose the kind
of writer you want people to see. When a person lands on your website, will they know instantly that you’re a romance novelist? Or a children’s writer? A poet or an essayist? Have you honed in on your niche, and does your website reflect that focus?
I think this might be hard for those of us like me, who might pen fiction as well as non-fiction, or write for children as well as adults. But it doesn’t mean we can’t keep writing whatever we want; it means accentuating what we want the world to see--and think--when they first meet us.
I suppose, then, that a website should get to the heart of the writer. That's what matters in a thoughtful
online presence. So, yeah, I've got some website work to do. How about you?
~Cathy C. Hall
Labels: author website, blogging, Cathy C. Hall, online presence, writing advice
The Demise of Writing as We Know it (!)(?)
In a textbook called The New Literacies
, I read the following sentence:
“It is even possible to conceive of a future in which all paper-and-pencil literacies are replaced by digital literacies.”
We have seen the advent of this already…How many of you have a Kindle? (My hand is raised. I, in fact, LOVE my Kindle. And not only do I have a Kindle Paperwhite, I have the Kindle app on my Android phone and Android tablet. But I digress.)
What this sentence is saying goes beyond the shift from paperbacks to e-book readers. These authors suggest that in the future, humans will no longer write long-form essays and stories. They will create content digitally through photos, other graphics, music, and sound…maybe with the assistance of some words, but not necessarily in sentences. And not necessarily lines of verse, either. Possibly just a word here or there to accentuate the other media being used.
This prompted me to look up the definition of “to write”:
“to form (as characters or symbols) on a surface with an instrument (as a pen).”
This could also be applied to typing letters on a computer, and I suppose it could also cover the process of putting other types of symbols together (other than letters) to communicate a message. In this case, using digital media to communicate a message or story could be like a form of writing.
Will digital media eventually replace writing as we know it?
|"Borneo: Memory of the Caves"|
My first reaction to this is "No! We cannot and we will not lose writing!" When I pause to reflect on it, this doesn't seem like an outrageous trajectory for the writing process. Human's written communication skills have evolved from cave drawings
to what it is now because of new tools and technologies, so it makes sense that it will continue to evolve.
If that is the case, what do you suppose that means for the future of writers? Do you think in the future, instead of writing this blog post, I will communicate it to you in a series of photos and audio? Some blogs and websites already do this.
In the future, instead of writing a novel, will it be read aloud (like an audiobook) with a companion series of images or video (maybe like a really long movie)?
What might the future hold for writers given the changes in technology? I do not anticipate that in my lifetime I will see the demise of the novel as we currently know it…but what might it look like in a 100 years from now?
By Anne Greenawalt
: writer, writing instructor, and Adult Education doctoral student
Labels: Anne Greenawalt, digital text, print vs e-book