Tell me a little bit about yourself.
This is my 86th weekend edition. There’s no special significance to that number, but – hey! – we’ve been hanging out for a while! I looked the figure up in the archives mostly because I was curious. I also realized that, although the weekend edition series has evolved (rather beautifully) into a diverse and welcoming community, I don’t know nearly as much about you as I’d like.
I’d like to fix that.
Though we’ve never met in person (and probably never will … though, you never know), I really enjoy spending part of my weekend with you. The highest compliments I’ve received for this series are the comments and emails thanking me for posts that “felt like sitting down with a friend over coffee.” That’s exactly the feeling I hope to create with these weekend editions – a little moment out of time where I can invite you into our virtual space to share a cup of something hot and some casual (though often also passionate) conversation about the writing life, the writing craft, and really great reads. You guys are my virtual writers’ circle – bookish and writerly people coming together to talk about all things writing- and reading-related.
So, if you don’t mind sharing, I’d love to know a little more about you. What kind of writing do you do today, and what kind of writing do you aspire to produce tomorrow? Who are your writing idols? What are your writing fears? Are you a professional or a hobbyist? Are you into a particular genre? What’s your day job? Are you a parent, a kid, or an empty nester? What else do you love besides reading and writing?
I’ll go first:
- I’m a single mom who makes her living as a freelance content strategist and copywriter for small- to mid-sized B2B (that’s business-to-business vs business-to-consumer) companies.
- I have a wonderful and supportive family. My daughter is eleven years old and fabulous from head to toe. My beau and I will be celebrating our eighth year together this summer. My parents are also creative/artistic types – Dad is a photographer/illustrator/painter and Mom is a writer/editor. I have two cats – a mother/daughter pair named Bella and Cinder. I aspire to be as Zen as they appear to be.
- As a professional writer, I earn the bulk of my income from my marketing-related writing (websites, ebooks, case studies, etc.), but I also write a bi-weekly column for my local paper and occasionally take on a feature piece for the paper or a regional magazine.
- While I’m working in the copywriting “word mines,” I continue to study the craft of fiction and creative nonfiction via self-study (reading books, blogs, and magazines) as well as taking classes (primarily at the Grub Street Writers’ Center).
- I hope to one day write and publish fiction, both short stories and novels. I’m also interested in all the emerging literary media and mediums, and I think that we’ll see some innovative authors experimenting with unique ways to reach and engage readers.
- My writing idols include Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint, Ursula K. LeGuin, Salman Rushdie, Bailey White, David Almond, and Ann Patchett. I’ve also recently discovered new favorites including Kristin Bair O’Keeffe and Rita Leganski. (Honestly, the list is always growing!)
- My writing fears are many, but I’m working to get over them and get on with the writing. Mostly, I’m afraid that I will never make time for my fiction practice and go to my grave with my stories still locked in my head. But, I’m also afraid of being rejected, ignored, or just plain laughed at. And I’m afraid my head will never be able to capture and recreate the story magic that I can almost touch with my heart.
- Though I am still learning about the complex geography of literary genres, I have to say that I am most interested in various forms of contemporary fantasy – urban fantasy, magical surrealism, and so forth. Though I loved science fiction and epic fantasy as a child (and still do enjoy reading some of that today), I have grown to love stories that bring fantasy into our world in sometimes overt and sometimes subtle ways. I love the potential of magic existing alongside our ordinary lives.
- In addition to reading, writing, running my business, and (last but certainly never least) navigating the wondrous land of motherhood, I take riding lessons (at the same stable I rode at when I was a child) and am going to be getting back to a regular yoga practice. I’m also beginning to learn more about meditation and am intrigued by the concept of minimalism (though my penchant for collecting tiny, artistic treasures doesn’t bode well for me taking up a spare lifestyle). I also spend a lot of time walking, observing nature, and creating photos for my Instagram habit.
Ok, your turn.
Share one detail or the whole kit-and-caboodle. Use my random questions for inspiration, or make up your own. Cover just the personal, just the professional, or a mix of both. Whatever feels right is perfect. Oh! And if you’re so inclined, please share where you “live” online – your website, blog, or Twitter handle, etc.
Take your time. I’ll be back later with a mug of tea and some chocolate.
What I’m Learning About Writing:
For every author, there is a community.
Earlier this week in Writers and Marketing – What Makes Sense? I wrote about my attempts to figure out if (and how) my various marketing activities generate value. The exercise got me thinking about that all important question: how does a writer find readers?
The painful truth is that you can blog, tweet, post, and pin until your fingers bleed, but if no one sees any of it, it won’t do you a whole heck of a lot of good.
So, what’s a busy writer with no marketing budget to do?
Find a community (or two, or three!).
All over the Internet, people congregate together based on topics, passions, and beliefs. I guarantee that no matter what you write about or what kinds of stories you tell, there are already communities of people out there who would love to hear about your stories.
For instance, I love fantasy and I love the author Charles de Lint. Imagine how delighted I was to discover The Mythic Cafe Facebook page.
The Mythic Cafe (with Charles de Lint and company) is a vibrant community of almost 3,500 members who are there to (according to the group description) “celebrate myth and fantasy, and to nurture readers, writers, artists and musicians who enjoy the mythic arts.”
Be still my heart.
Communities like these are wonderful on so many levels. They provide inspiration by immersing you in the world you love and connecting you with like-minded people. They give you valuable insights into the lives and minds of people who might be your perfect readers. And, in some cases, they can give you a ready-made platform upon which to share your work.
I don’t have any work to share with the fabulous members of the Mythic Cafe, but I am really enjoying my time there. I am learning so much about myth and fairytales, collecting links to inspiring artists and stories, and generally just feeding my fantasy-loving soul.
Where might you find a community of people who are a perfect fit for what you write?
What I’m Reading:
Sometimes you need a fairytale to get you through the week. You need something with a prince and some magic and something scary lurking in a deep, dark wood. That’s exactly what the (book) doctor ordered for me this week, and – luckily – I happened to have a copy of Holly Black’s latest YA novel at hand.
The Darkest Part of the Forest weaves classical faerie folklore into a contemporary setting. Tourists come to Fairfold to try and catch a glimpse of the Folk, and especially to see the horned prince who has lain asleep in a glass coffin in the woods for generations. Locals know to carry iron and oatmeal in their pockets, but tourists aren’t always so respectful of the old ways and sometimes come to a nasty end.
Hazel and her brother Ben have lived most of their lives in Fairfold. As children, they roamed the forest as a knight and a bard. But now, as teenagers, their world is turned upside down when the mysterious prince in the glass coffin wakes and the boundaries between the human world and the fey world begin to blur.
Full of secrets, boons, tricksy faerie bargains, and all-too-human betrayals, The Darkest Part of the Forest puts an interesting spin on traditional faerie lore. There’s plenty of action to keep you turning pages, and plenty of romance for a starry-eyed teenager. This wasn’t a life-altering book, but I don’t think that’s at all what Black was trying to create. It is, however, a very entertaining and well written story that provides a slightly spooky and eerily beautiful escape from the world. It was fun, and good enough that I’ll be checking out some of Black’s other titles in the future.
And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:
- Audience growth by @pjrvs
- Carol Dweck: The Two Mindsets And The Power of Believing That You Can Improve via @farnamstreet
- The Rules of Writing … or Not by @storyfix
- Power of the Space Between Creative Bursts by @CreativeKatrina
- 16 questions to Ask Yourself – First Pass [story] Editing by @kathytemean
- The Way We Live Our Days, What We Do at 10 A.M., Really Is the Way We Live Our Lives via @gretchenrubin
- Love, Sustained: The Day I Met Ann Patchett by Laura Zinn Fromm
- Open Letter to Crabby Writing Teachers Everywhere by @GillespieKarin
- How to Write a Novel: A Simple Process for Beating Writer’s Block by Monica Leonelle via @thewritelife
- What Authors Can Learn From Startups by @RicardoFayet via @JaneFriedman
- Don’t Let Writing Keep You From Writing by @Larry_Kahaner
Finally, a quote for the week:
Thanks for being here. I’m looking forward to learning more about you and to many more virtual weekend visits over a mug of something yummy.
Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.