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Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

The (Writing) Company You Keep

pin quiet peopleWriting is a solitary endeavor. Though your process may include research or interviews or similar tasks that require interaction with other human beings, when you finally come to it – the selecting and ordering of words on the page – you must tackle the task on your own. Despite the necessary prevalence of seclusion in our lives, writers – especially successful ones – seem to have an unexpected skill for creating and maintaining strong communities.

Again and again I have read interviews in which a freshly published author attributes a great part of his or her hard-earned success to the support of other writers. Sometimes the associations are loose ones – membership in a large writing organization like Boston’s Grub Street, for instance. Sometimes the connections are more intimate, such as a small, private group of half a dozen fiercely loyal and committed (to their craft and each other) writers.

I have been fortunate in stumbling into several wonderful groups of writers. Just as I was launching myself as a freelance marketing writer, I fell in with a fabulous group of B2B (business-to-business) writers who were a few (or many) steps ahead of me on the learning curve. We became the Savvy Sisters, a moniker we adopted in honor of our collaborative blog, Savvy B2B Marketing. Though that blog has now, after an almost five-year run, been more or less retired, I will always be grateful for the experience and – more importantly – the friendship of those women. We may not talk as often as we used to, but we are still in touch and I would do anything to support them.

It was one of the Savvy Sisters, the indomitable Wendy, who originally invited me to become part of this blog. Being welcomed into this group marked another turning point in my writing life. While the Savvy Sisters focused almost exclusively on writing for a business market, the team here at Live to Write – Write to Live offered me a place where I can talk about my true love – creative writing and the writing life. Reading their blogs, writing my own, comparing notes, and sometimes sharing a glass of wine via Google Hangouts, I have felt the positive influence of these women on my creative and professional writing life.

I am also part of a fabulous “secret” Facegoup group of fellow marketing writers, many of whom are also aspiring “someday novelists” like myself. Though we don’t publish together on a blog, we share ideas and questions on a daily basis. The diversity of the group and the breadth and depth of our combined knowledge is capable of solving almost any problem – writerly or otherwise.

The bottom line is this: you not only don’t have to do it alone, you shouldn’t. Writers are everywhere. With the Internet and social media, it’s easier than ever before to find people, connect, and stay in touch. You really don’t have any excuses. I realize that I’ve talked about this before – the importance of giving yourself the gift of a writer network – but it’s worth mentioning again. And again. There is strength and inspiration and sanity in the support of a group of like-minded individuals. As the now defunct MasterCard ad campaign always said, “Priceless.”

What kind of writing company do you keep? 

What I’m Writing:

"They bobbed on the waves and dreamed about what they would find at the end of the world." From Hopper & Wilson by Maria van Lieshout

“They bobbed on the waves and dreamed about what they would find at the end of the world.” From Hopper & Wilson by Maria van Lieshout

In addition to the secret Facebook group of fellow marketing writers, I’m also a member of an offshoot group that’s focused on those of us doing the marketing thing, but moonlighting on the side with various creative writing projects. Each week, one of our intrepid members invites group members to check in regarding how their work is going. Here was my response this week:

I wanted to plead the 5th, but then I tried to come up with SOMEthing positive. Here’s what I’ve got: Despite life and work stuff being CR-azy, I am 1) still managing to keep up with my weekend edition posts at Live to Write – Write to Live (no small feat since I’ve apparently completely abandoned my marketing blog) and 2) continuing to give brain space and stolen moments to ideas for stories AND – perhaps more immediately applicable – ideas for story-ish products and creative projects. I’m playing around with different assumptions about what it means to be a writer – more than short stories and novels. I’m slowly and quietly deconstructing my preconceived notions of what My Life as a Writer should/will look like and trying on some different possible realities. It’s all very hazy at the moment, but it’s keeping me afloat despite some challenging personal/business situations that have taken over my life recently. Thank goodness for the artist’s soul – always curious, always creating, always looking for beauty and meaning.

I share this with you in case anyone else is experiencing a similar sense of “limbo” in terms of establishing/evolving a writing life. I have always equated “being a writer” with “being a novelist.” Though being a (published) novelist still holds a great deal of appeal for me, I am suddenly realizing how many other types of writing exist in the world, AND how many types of writing I could explore even though there is no established market for them. Would I love to write a series of successful novels? Of course I would. It’s nice to realize, however, that that isn’t the one and only way to become A Writer.

What are your writing aspirations? Have they changed over time? 

book bellman blackWhat I’m Reading:

Just this morning, still tucked in under the covers, I finished Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield. I enjoyed Setterfield’s first book, The Thirteenth Tale as an audio book (beautifully read, I might add, by Bianca Amato and Jill Tanner), so when I saw a hardcover of her second novel sitting on the $2 shelf at the library book sale, I didn’t have to think twice.

Like The Thirteenth Tale, Bellman and Black is a haunting tale with an ever present hint of mystery and some darkness. If I’m being perfectly honest, I wasn’t as swept away by Bellman & Black as I was with The Thirteenth Tale. (I really hate to say that because I have heard so often how challenging a sophomore novel is for the new author.) It was, however, a satisfying read full of beautiful language and imagery.

One such passage that struck a particular chord for me, since I’m always feeling short on time, was this:

“Never let time be your master,” Bellman told Verney when he asked about it. “If you want to do something, take it on. Time will always make itself.”

But what he really felt about the matter was that he had discovered – or been given – the key to chronometry. He could open up the case of time when he chose, apply weight to the pendulum and slot its movement. He could take the hours apart, find the extra minutes that were going to waste in them, make them his own.

 

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

This has gone so wildly viral that you’ve probably already seen it, but I couldn’t resist sharing it One. More. Time. I was never a big fan of Mr. Yankovic, but after this fabulous parody, you can count me a new convert. Enjoy!

Here’s hoping you find your perfect community of  fellow writers and word nerds, grammarians and historians, memoirists and fantasists – the people who will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you on the writing journey. Meantime, glad to have you as part of the Live to Write – Write to Live community. We love sharing our adventures with you! 

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Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and – occasionally –  trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

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Meetup.com has been around for several years. If you’re familiar with it, you may only consider it for meeting up with like-minded people for outdoor activities; however it can also be a resource meeting other writers and meeting other small business owners.

Basically, meetup.com (obviously online) is focused on connecting people together within their local area. It’s a way to find like-minded people and actually meet them face-to-face.

From the website: Meetup’s mission is to revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize. Meetup believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.

New_Meetup_logo

The current stats for meetup.com include having 15.92 million members in 196 countries and 142,319 groups.

Anyone can create a meetup group and new groups pop up all the time.

It’s simple enough to create a profile and start searching for meetups in your local area for writing (you can get as specific as you want, too), within a certain amount of miles from your location. There are numerous small business-related groups too. Each group has its own parameters and guidelines.

When I search on “small business,” I find these groups within 25 miles of my location:

  • Businesses Supporting Businesses
  • Granite State Business Resource Network
  • Netlunch! Where Women Connect
  • Southern NH Community Connector

There are numerous types of writing-related groups within my immediate area. There are also groups for website designers, specific development software-focused groups (ie. Joomla, PHP, Google, java), entrepreneurs, investors, marketing, networking… it’s amazing what you can find.

A bonus to meetup.com is that if you’re traveling, you can easily do a search and find people you’d like to meet in person while on your travels. You’ll already have something in common and it’s a great way to spend some time in a new and/or unfamiliar location.

At the least, meetup.com can connect you with new people in your community you wouldn’t otherwise run into.

Why not check it out and see if you find it of any value to your writing goals or your business management aspirations. It’s free to sign up and search. Most groups I’ve dealt with are free to be involved with too. But it all depends on the group owner and the group’s purpose.

Have you connected with any like-minded business individuals through meetup.com?

 

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She enjoys meetup.com for finding local writers, bloggers, photographers, cyclists, and hikers. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook,  Google+, and LinkedIn.

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If you’re a mystery writer or reader, there’s a wonderful (I may be biased) small conference held each November in the Boston area.

2014 marks the 13th Annual New England Crime Bake Conference.

CrimeBake banner

 

We (I’m part of the conference committee) have a wonderful GOH (guest of honor) this year. Well, we always have a great GOH — Meg Gardiner, Lee Child, Charlaine Harris, Harlan Coben, and Sue Grafton, to name a few.

This year’s GOH is Craig Johnson. If you’re a fan of the Walt Longmire mystery series or the Longmire A&E TV series (3rd season starts June 2!), the name is familiar.

I met Craig last year at a local independent book store. It was the most unique book event I’ve ever been to. The author lives in tiny town in Wyoming (population 25) and he was here, in NH, in his cowboy boots and hat. He brought a few six packs of beer to share with drinking-age audience members – I had ice water – and had a 2+ hour conversation with us. We could have been sitting in his living room for how comfortable the evening felt.

This year’s Crime Bake conference is going to be loads of fun with him around. The banquet is featuring line dancing (with lessons) as well as cowboy poetry (from participants on the spot). But that’s not all the fun!

Several agents and editors will be around all weekend to listen to pitches (from cozies to thrillers to noirs) and share their expertise.

We’re going to have professionals set up a crime scene and participants get to make their own deductions and determinations — and find out how right we are on Sunday morning.

There are several panels and seminars covering everything from writing cozies to selecting the best publishing option to talking about detectives from Sherlock Holmes to television’s Richard Castle. Check out the full conference schedule. There’s something for everyone who loves the mystery genre.

I personally love this conference because it’s small (250 people) and everyone I meet there (whether unpublished writer or multipublished novelist) is friendly, encouraging, and loves talking about all things mystery. It’s a guilty pleasure to hang out with other writers, but there’s something extra special about hanging out with mystery writers.

I invite ya’ll to come on along with us (at least 3 NHWN bloggers will be there) and “Saddle Up for Murder” on November 7, 8, and 9. The conference’s Facebook Page will keep you updated on activities and if you’re on Twitter, we’re slinging words using #crimebake.

Boy howdy, this is going to be a fun time!

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. In her other life, she writes and reads mysteries and is a fan of the New England Crime Bake conference. Her cowboy hat and boots are ready to go. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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I learned a new term this past weekend: Author Lifeboats. Though the term is new, the concept isn’t. I have two lifeboats, and this blog group is one. My other blog, Wicked Cozy Authors, is another, and a great example of the concept in action.

Left to right: Sherry Harris, Jessie Crockett, Edith Maxwell, Barb Ross, Liz Mugavero, moi. Photograph by Meg Manion

Left to right: Sherry Harris, Jessie Crockett, Edith Maxwell, Barb Ross, Liz Mugavero, moi. Photograph by Meg Manion

The Wickeds (as we refer to ourselves) have a few things in common. We all write cozies. We are all Sisters in Crime. We are all friends, though didn’t all know each other as well before we started our blog last year. We all have the same agent. Four have contracts with Kensington, two of us are at Berkley Prime Crime, which means we all have traditional publishing routes we are exploring. Our blog has a lot of group posts.

Last week we celebrated one year on the blog. That year has seen, in public, the launch of four of the series, the date for the fifth, and my contract. Second books started their roll outs with Liz Mugavero’s A Biscuit, A Casket last month, Barb Ross’s Boiled Over yesterday, Edith Maxwell’s ‘Til Dirt Do Us Part at the end of the month, and Jessie Crockett’s Maple Mayhem on July 1. We RT, share, and shout out each other’s good news. And we’ve got a team of readers who comment regularly, and help us spread the word.

In private? We’ve celebrated good news and supported each other through personal challenges. And selfishly? I have learned SO MUCH about deadlines, pacing, word counts, story arcs, the importance of editing, timing, and friendship, from these women. Being friends isn’t necessary to being in an author lifeboat, but it makes it a lot more fun.

There are other author lifeboats in the mystery world: the Jungle Reds, the Cozy Chicks, Mystery Lovers Kitchen, and others. I suspect that the term was created by the romance writers world, which is a fabulous model for support and craft building. Please add other lifeboat blogs to the comments.

This blog is a lifeboat as well. Though we don’t write in the same genre, we regularly correspond, show support, and have occasional Google hangouts. On Saturday, July 26, this blog will be represented  on a panel with Deborah, Wendy, and Lisa at Bookstock in Vermont. I am going to try and be in the audience.

Lifeboats work. I was at Malice Domestic last weekend, and on an elevator where a woman I’d never met asked me if I was a Wicked Cozy. Bookmark at the ready, I thanked her for reading the blog and let her know that we were all at the conference. And she was excited by the news. How cool is that?

But as importantly, the journey is easier, and more fun, with others. So writer friends, get in a lifeboat.

**************

J.A. Hennrikus writes short stories, Julie Hennrikus is the ED of StageSource and teaches arts management, and Julianne Holmes writes the Clock Shop Mystery series.

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Do you cringe when someone suggests that you get out and ‘network’ with other writers, business owners, or creative types?

Networking can be intimidating, I know. As an introvert who excels at listening, networking can give me butterflies if I think it’s all about me and my business and needing to say the right thing to the right person.

I’ve found a trick that helps with the anxiety. I put on a matchmaker’s cap. I go to an event with the intent to focus on others instead of myself.

Here’s what it entails: focusing on learning about a person and his/her needs and then seeing if I can connect that person with the ‘right match’ by the end of the evening.

If you do this, people will learn about you and your experience. And if can connect two individuals with specific needs to the person they are looking for, they’ll remember you — and what you do. And when they hear about a writing need, you’ll be a referral they can give.

Networking takes time, here are some other matchmaker-like tips that may work:

  • If you don’t have much writing experience yet, become a source for referrals; be open to recommending a more experienced writer if your experience doesn’t fit a stated need — if that referral gets hired, ask to shadow the process as a way to learn and gain experience.
  • Provide useful information through your blog, website, or other social media outlets. You don’t have to know everything. If you find an article or interview another writer, share that with your audience — you’ll get known as a person with resources and/or a person who knows how to find information.
  • Find a writer to emulate to build your confidence and experience. You’re probably already subscribing to newsletters or RSS feeds and following some successful freelance writers — what is it about those people that attracts you to them? How do they keep your attention week after week? Start emulating them with your own content and build your own following.
  • Attend events that attract the types of businesses you want to work with. As you get to know someone, you’ll learn more about a particular company and be able to learn the correct contact name or department.
  • Graphic designers can be a great resource for freelance writers — as not all designers are writers and not all writers are visual. Finding a designer who works with companies you’d like to write for can pay dividends for both of you.

Consider this: if you were looking to hire a writer, would you contact folks you already know, or start cold calling random writers? You’d call people you know.

In all my years as a freelancer, the majority of job opportunities have come from relationships I’ve developed with people.

What do you think? Does networking seem a little less scary now?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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Debra Dixon is coming! Debra Dixon is coming!

Debra Dixon is a popular writer, speaker and publisher and she’s bringing her “Book-In-A Day” Workshop to Nashua, New Hampshire on May 10, 2014. Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict is required reading for anyone who is hoping to have their book published.

Debra Dixon Book-In-A Day May 10, 2014

I read Goal, Motivation and Conflict at the recommendation of several fellow writers. I started with a borrowed copy but the book was packed with such great information I had to restrain myself from using a highlighter. I knew I had to purchase my own copy. I wrote a review for L2W W2L.

The Book-In-A Day Workshop uses the 12 step Hero’s Journey to help you plan the character driven plots that make readers and publisher’s stand up at take notice. You’ll leave the workshop with an outline that will advance your book idea from concept to finished plan. You will:

  • 

Understand Hero and Villain motivation in crafting a tension-filled story.
  • Understand the difference between internal and external motivation, and why it is important to goal-setting and plot.
  • Understand the difference between hero long- and short-term goal setting.
  • Chart your Hero’s emotional journey in counterpoint to his physical journey.
  • Put the Hero’s goals in direct emotional conflict with the villain and the Emotional Obstacle.
  • Let your book unfold in stages, maintaining tension and increasing suspense, until the very end.

The workshop is sponsored by the New Hampshire Chapter of Romance Writer’s of America, but is open to writer’s of all genre’s. It will be held at the Radisson in Nashua from 9am to 4pm. The cost is $80 and includes a lunch buffet.

Stay overnight at the Radisson Friday night, and meet fellow authors that evening from 8-11 pm in the lounge. For more information and to sign up, please visit http://www.nhrwa.com/events.html
 I hope to see you there!

Will you be attending? What books have you read on writing have drastically altered how you write?

Lee Laughlin is a writer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at Livefearlesslee.com. She is currently a member of the Concord Monitor Board of Contributors.  Her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is a member of the New Hampshire Chapter of Romance Writers of America and is currently at work on her first novel.

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Welcome to this Saturday Edition of What We’re Writing and Reading in which I  share some of what I’m up to with my writing (when I’m not here) and what I’m reading (between the covers and around the web). I’ll also pull back the curtain for a peek behind-the-scenes.

I hope you enjoy this little diversion and encourage you to share your own posts and picks in the comments.

Happy writing! Happy reading! 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: Morning. (Yawn). How are you on this fine Saturday? I have to be honest. I’m a little sleepy. I usually like to write these weekend edition posts on Friday afternoon, but this week’s best laid plans fell all to pieces when my daughter’s sniffle landed her on the couch for two days. At the end of the day yesterday I had two options for getting this post done: forgo an evening of relaxation with my beau, a couple Boboli pizzas, and a bottle of chardonnay, or rise and shine extra early this morning. I chose the rise-n-shine option, so … here I am.

And, I have to thank you.

You see, you guys are awesome accountability partners. I love to read and I love to write, but sometimes it’s hard to make time for these things in the midst of my already busy life. Wanting to make sure I have things to share with you on Saturday morning motivates me to eke out an extra bit of reading time reading. It helps keep me on track with my blogging outside this blog and even my column writing. The fact that you are interested enough to show up each week makes me want to show up each week. In short, you inspire me to be here.

So, thank you for helping me up my game. I really appreciate it.

Now, on to the goods for this week:

What I’m Writing:

brick wall

Background Image: Wikimedia Commons

Over on my marketing blog I wrote a piece called Tell Me Why I Should Care. I took a different approach to my writing style on this one. To be perfectly honest, I was a little stumped for a topic. When you write about the same topic each week for – ahem – years, it can start to become difficult to find a fresh new angle. Sometimes you hit a wall. You get a little burnt out. Last week was one of those weeks.

I just didn’t feel like I could tackle a long-form post, and I didn’t feel terribly inspired. But, as all professional writers know, it’s not about waiting for inspiration. It’s about getting the job done by the deadline. So, I puttered around my house a bit and mulled over what was blocking me. I realized that I was having one of those downer moments that come from writing your heart out on a blog, but never seeing the results you hope for. It’s like getting all dressed up for a party, and then no one even knows you’re there.

My blog is an important part of my marketing business. It’s wonderful resource for prospects and clients alike, and I’ve had quite a few posts that have performed decently in terms of shares and comments. But, more often than not, my little blog posts get swallowed up in the echo chamber of the great social media blog promotion machine. It breaks my heart a little, because I really do care about my work and about helping people.

That’s when I landed on the idea for my post – tell me why I should care. The post is a bit of a reminder to myself and also, I hope, a thought-provoking inspiration to others who are trying to make their mark in the online space, or anywhere else for that matter. The piece is short (only 225 words), and written in the form of one side of a conversation. No exposition. No explanation. Just one half of an imagined dialog. It was fun to write, and – I hope – makes my point in a creative and memorable way.

What I’m Reading:

Affiliate Link

This week I indulged my inner child (and my inner writer who wants to write for children) and enjoyed two fabulous and classic novels by masters of the genre. The first was Eva Ibbotson’s Island of the Aunts (affiliate link). I picked this up hoping my daughter might enjoy it (and I could lure her away from the Hunger Games trilogy). Ibbotson was an Austrian-born British novelist. She passed away in 2010, leaving a rich legacy of children’s and young adult books. I had read reviews in which she was called the “Rowling before there was a Rowling,” and – since my daughter loved the Harry Potter books – I thought I might persuade her to try Ibbotson’s stories.

Though I wasn’t able to compete with Katniss, I was intrigued enough to read Island of the Aunts myself, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had that slightly old-fashioned feel that often seems part and parcel of British children’s stories. I can imagine the narrator as an older man or woman with a crisp accent, a wry sense of humor, and a knack for delivering back-handed compliments. The story is part adventure and part eco-tale and includes a wild cast of characters who are both startling and charming.

What hooked me was the first line, “Kidnapping children is not a good idea. All the same, sometimes it has to be done.” What a fabulous way to start a story, right?

Affiliate Link


The second book I picked up was Tove Jansson’s Moominland Midwinter (affiliate link). I had vague memories of reading Moomin books when I was a kid. The illustrations were immediately familiar to me (in fact, I saw a couple that I remember copying into my sketch book), but the stories had long wandered out of my head to make room for other things that, upon reflection, have perhaps turned out to be less worthy.

Jansson, like one of my other favorite authors, James Thurber, does not write “down” to children. Both authors were also artists and, in particular, cartoonists, who had a wonderful way with language and didn’t skimp on their use of it when writing to the younger set. There are bits of humor and wisdom in their books that I’m still discovering at age forty-four, and I expect I will continue to discover new gems long into my golden years.

The Moomin books are set in a land that is at once unspeakably strange, peopled as it is with all manner of oddly named and shaped creatures – Little Creeps, Gaffsies, Grokes, and Fillyjonks – but it is also a place where I feel completely at home. It gives me a sort of, as Douglas Adams liked to say, an “oh, well, that’s alright then,” kind of feeling. I’m looking forward to going back to visit soon via some of the other Moomin books.

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin plot twist

And that’s all for this week. 

Thanks again, truly, for being here. Always so nice to share part of my writing journey (and my weekend!) with you. Happy reading & writing. Go create something! :) 

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

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