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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Writer’s Conference

The 37th Annual Midwest Writer’s Workshop is coming up soon! Right here in Muncie Indiana at the Ball State Campus you can “learn from award-winning bestselling authors, pitch your work to literary agents, and meet respected editors and professionals”.

Check it out!

Midwest Writer’s Workshop

Monday, June 28, 2010

Suite 101

Every article I write for clients requires research. The research I collect is always more than I need for that one article however. In addition, in the process of writing, more ideas come to mind and new twists and angles emerge that I simply cannot include in the assigned article due to word limits.

I always think it’s a shame to leave a topic with so many unwritten articles in my head. But I do just that, and I push away the lingering questions – what to do with all those ideas and all that information? What to do with the momentum of the moment?

Fortunately I keep all my research and file it away with my article once it has been submitted. So last week, I was pleased to find a way to utilize the remnants of my work through a new outlet: Suite 101.

Suite 101 is an article warehouse that generates income through Google Adsense. Authors post articles to the site and get pain a revenue from Google. What this means is that although you won’t get paid immediately, you will get paid over and over for the same article! Depending on the topics you write about, how popular they are, and how many articles you post, this could be quite lucrative.

Because I am already writing articles for clients who know what the hot topics are in the market, maximizing my efforts is a no-brainer for me. But even if you are not already writing articles, I want to encourage you to give it a try because it’s a great way to get started and build up your repretoire.

Check it out: Suite 101

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Support Your Local Writers: Strategy #3

A List of DOs

Ask me “how was your day?”
Ask me “is the muse present today?”
Ask me what titles, projects, and subjects I am writing about these days.
Ask me if my clients are paying.
Ask me what is most rewarding or frustrating about my work.

When you call, ask me if this is an OK time to talk.
When you tell anyone what I do, say I’m a writer, because I am.

Understand that although I don’t work in an office with other people, a time clock, and a break room, I do work.
Understand that although my work overlaps laundry and doing dishes, it is a legitimate job.

Respect my time and space: my work time and work space may not look like yours, but you can respect it as you do your own.
Respect my silence: sometimes I simply cannot and should not talk.
Respect my need and desire to talk: mine is a solitary job, so my “down time” is chatter and socializing.
Respect my privacy. I am very open and forthcoming, but only as the result of pampered privacy.
Respect my words, whether you agree with them or not, respect the fact that I have spoken and written them by responding.

Know that I welcome criticism.
Know that I may not alter my work in accordance with your critiques.

Every now and then, tell me I am doing a good job.
Every now and then, tell me not to quit.
Every now and then, read what I’ve written and tell me that you did so.

Do you believe in me? Tell me if you do!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Support Your Local Writers: Strategy #2

A List of Don’ts

Honor a writer’s efforts. Honor their time. Honor their odd little qwirks. You don’t have to understand them to honor them.

Let me be more specific

To those who know me:
Don’t as me how much I got done because I am never “done”.
Don’t ask what else I do because writing is enough.
Don’t ask about my “real” job is because writing is real.
Don’t assume that when I’m driving my car I’m not “working”. You see, wisdom incubates when I drive.
Don’t assume that when my hand is empty and my book is closed I’m sitting idle. You see, it takes idle sitting to remove you and every other distraction from the work table in my mind.
Don’t assume that when I’m walking in circles I am wasting time. You see, when I walk around myself, words break lose from my brain.

Don’t assume that when my eyes are closed I’m lazy, avoiding work, napping unnecessarily, or being irresponsible with time. You see, the visions dance behind closed eye lids.
Please don’t pity me when my hair is in disarry; please don’t be ashamed of my humble existence. Don’t feel sorry for me, don’t tell me how impossible it is or how unrealistic I am, and don’t make insinuations that I’m just some little girl who idles away her time writing silly little dreams in her diary.

To strangers who see me in public:
Don’t come talk to me. Don’t ask me what I’m doing and don’t tell me about your own life (if I care, I’ll eavesdrop),

To everyone who ever sees me scribbling anywhere at any time:
Writing matters. Whether you know that or not is irrelevant: it matters to me.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Writing on Vacation

I’m on vacation right now and am contemplating the quandry of being able to write while on vacation. You see, I have this romantic (and therefore, unrealistic) vision that modern technology allows me to WORK while on vacation. Technically, it does. But the reality is quite different.

Being on vacation is all about being in new places, meeting new people, doing new things, being out of “routine”. All these things stimulate my thinking and produce new thoughts and ideas, new perspectives, new feelings, all things I want to write about. So yeah, I’m stimulated, motivated, energizes, and in the right frame of mind to produce. I have time, a relaxed spirit, and modern technology makes it possible to do it anywhere.

It’s the being out of routine that makes the work component so difficult.

I am a morning person, so I do my best thinking and creative work in the quiet hours of early sunshine when everyone else is still sleeping. So yes, I CAN write while on vacation. The difference, however, is that I can’t really WORK on vacation. You see, work is different from the creative and expressive writing that I do.

I brought my laptop; I brought my thumb drives, my folders full of research and papers, and my list of deadlines. I brought everything I need to be prepared to carry on and do my work. I am flexible and easy going, so I can technically write anywhere. HOWEVER, I have to face the reality that “work” and “vacation” are simply two words that cannot be forced into the same time and space. Work is based on deadlines and deadlines cause pressure. Pressure on vacation?! I don’t think so! This is just plain crazy! Work requires that I spread out my papers and I can’t really do that on the beach. Work requires that I fit into specific guidelines and adhere to the rules and demands of others. I can’t really do that when I’m a guest in someone else’s house and fitting into the whims of vacation mode.

Writing impressions, capturing images, contemplating on paper, these things are very possible on vacation and modern technology makes it all a bit easier, but WORK? What was I thinking?!

I’m thinking now that I have been confusing my passion with my work for way too long. Because both involve writing, I have been making the mistake of considering them one and the same. This trip has served to draw a line between the writing I do for others and the writing I do for myself.

My new resolve is to recognize this line of separation and respect the time and space that each deserves. It isn’t fair to try and do work while on vacation: it isn’t fair to me and it isn’t fair to those in my company.

Though some work may happen spontaneously while on vacation, I declare publically now and forever more that I will never again take a work agenda with me on vacation!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Support Your Local Writers: Strategy #1

Sisters In Crime Book Launch Review

Writers are a kind of intangible asset. If you don’t like their style or their message, you just shrug your shoulders and ignore them. Think about that before you allow that to be your reaction. It is important to support writers, especially those in your own backyard, even if you do feel ambivilant about their work. There is tremendous value to your community to have producers of art living amongst you. Without your support, they can not survive and the impact on the community is silent and invisible, but felt nonetheless.

On Saturday there were several Muncie people in Indianapolis to pay homage to the Muncie authors in the Sisters in Crime anthology, Bedlam at the Brickyard. What a thrill for the Muncie authors to have their hard work compiled into a final produce – a wonderful sense of accomplishment for them. What an honor for them to be recognized, to sit at the destination of a long line of fans wanting their signatures! What a message of approval and an affirmation of support for them to look out into the crowd and see their local friends and colleagues in the crowd!

Personally, I was thrilled to see the faces of my friends illuminated by their own accomplishments. They will not become rich and famous from this endeavor and the book will not put Muncie on the map, so to speak, but their work has filled our community with positive energy that propels others into positive action. This is an intangible asset that is truly priceless! I am certainly proud that I live in a community that supports its own artists. I am also very proud of my friends for their individual accomplishment!

So my message to people everywhere is, by all means, support your local writers! Your local writers belong to your “from” and they are, in some sort of way, recording the history of your time and space in the world. Make them proud to live amongst you. Writers are the creators of beauty in your environment. Support their endeavors – before, during, and after publication. Sing their praises, cheer them on, lift their spirits, honor the guts it takes for them to pursue their passion. Do these things for your local artists and you will feel that internal joy that carries you over the rough waters in your own life.

Oh, yes! Do this and my words here will become unnecessary because you will know instinctively exactly what I mean.

Congratulations Sherita, Dee, and Tammy! Write on, sisters!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Impulse to Write Outside

I do most of my writing outside. This is nothing new. We used to have a house on a lake. I think I was 8 or 9 when my parents first built it. We went up to the late the day after school was out and my mother and I stayed all summer, returning to the regular house only a day or two before school was to resume. That marked the beginning of my serious barefooting as well because for three whole months, it was allowed! The only “shopping I did was at the snack=bar in front of the swimming beach. There was an amphitheater outside where we attended musicals and weekly church services so really, for me, at least, it was a barefoot village.

It was also a full-time writer’s retreat for me. Great big shade trees on top of a hill my mother called “the Indian mound” and just beyond that, a sunken meditation garden, the end of our pier where gentle waves slapped against the poles giving rhythm to my words, these were certainly favorite writing places for me. I also wrote in the little fishing boat my parents let me pain bright yellow and orange (probably so they could keep an eye on me when I went out on the lake by myself, which was often). When I was a teenager, I ventured further from home and found more secluded writing places. There was a great big fallen tree in the woods that served as a perch over the mossy ground. I’d straddle the trunk with my scrawny lets, open my spiral notebook, and lean over it, supported by the solid security of the prince of the forest who I believed, had bowed just for me. There I poured out musing of my adolescent encounters in the world. There I discovered that the trees have ears, that voices whisper in the branches, that the air can embrace and hold; there I discovered that because I am alive, I must write.

There was another favorite tree at the bank of one of the back water canals. Erosion had exposed its roots on the water side and by the time I discovered it, it leaned at a 45 degree angle over the water. I could walk up its trunk and nestle myself into a fork amid its full foliage and be transformed from a solitary girl under the scrutiny of adult eyes into a unified part of the whole universe. There I discovered my voice, that I had a voice, that I could hear and be heard: I happened onto Holiness, the Holy in me and Thee, and the lines that separate have ever since been blurred.

That little girl grew up in earth life terms, but the impulse to write is as instinctive as the breath and blood that makes living in the body possible. Likewise, the impulse to write outside cannot be forced to stop. No matter where I live or visit, I find parks and cemeteries, fields and wide open skies where my soul seeps out of the body and ventures into depths where human words do not exist, and returns to the pages where it helps me make sense of the stuff in the human experience.

I can write just about anywhere, of that I am sure. But I must write outside where all the elements of the Great Spirit kiss my soul and give me great blessings. The carpet of dew-damp morning grass against my feet; the greens and browns of earth, dotted with the colors of early summer blossoms pouring into my eyes; the sky above that smiles into the horizon; these are the things that open my ears and move my pen across the page.

When I am called, I follow. So here I am, a grown woman, sitting barefoot with my back against a great big tree, scribbling wildly into my spiral notebook.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Meeting with Change in a Writer's Group

Groups change and evolve over time; new people join, others drop out. Even the people who initiate a group and stay steady in attendance over the course of several years grow and change; so naturally, any group evolves. I am a big advocate of change; I believe change is a good thing and that if you are resistant to change, you are, by default, advocating for the allowance of stagnation and ultimate death. I say this because I have to lay the premises of this blog post as one that embraces and welcomes change.

OK. That being said now, let’s talk specifically about changes within a writing group. Every aspect of an established writer’s group will and should change over time. Within the changes however, we have to find balance. It’s the old yin-yang philosophy. Whether you believe it or not, I have to tell you, it’s there. For every up there is a down; for every in there is an out. Ecclesiastes has a whole litany of the components that create balance:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Change is balanced by stability. What is the purpose of your writing group? What are the stable components of your mission statement? These are the things that must be adhered to in order to embrace change with integrity.

We talked about this in our journaling meeting this week and Linda prepared some notes that I’d like to share here:

Natalie Goldberg guidelines:

· Keep the pen moving

· Go with the prompt given—even if you write “I don’t want to write about…” or you write the same word over and over—just write

· Don’t worry about the grammar, spelling, content—just keep you hand moving

· No comments after reading—no “Oh, that reminds me of…,” no, “Here’s what happened to me…”

· Comments, if any are limited to saying what words, lines or images stood out or remained in our minds—what you RECALL

Pat Schneider – The Writer As An Artist

If we are a sharing type group, as we are, we are a writer’s support group—not a therapy support group—we need to keep our boundaries clear.

We need members who are “willing to live within the “rules of order” that we have set up.

Schneider says, “…in moments of genuine crisis, be ready to abandon all rules” (p. 154). We have done this for almost everyone in the group at some point or another in times of crises. We have erred by not going back to our writing practice rules.

Me (Linda Johnson)

We are all accepted as we are—we still have a responsibility to monitor our comments when we know they may hurt others in the group.

If members are not interested in writing or sticking to this format, maybe you want to consider starting a Story Circle, a time when people just get together to share stories and talk. It would probably need to be a separate group, different meeting days—that would offer those who are more interested in sharing than in writing a chance to meet with friends.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sisters IN Crime Book Launch!

Hey everybody, come on out to the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Carmel, IN on Saturday for the Indiana Chapter of Sisters in Crime book launch. The group's second anthology is coming out on Saturday, June 12 and the authors will all be there for signing!

Can't wait for this exciting event and I hope to see you there!!!

Here's the info:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

2:00pm - 4:00pm

Barnes & Noble 14709 US 31 N Carmel IN 46032

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June Contest: Hubalicious!

Here is a cool contest that looks fun and interesting and it is on-going throughout the whole month of June.

Hubpages is having a “Hubalicious”contest – it is all about food! Some winners are chosen randomly through a daily drawing; others are chosen for content and quality by a panel of judges. Either way, the more you write, the better your chances for winning. Great opportunity – and the only pressure is what you put on yourself.

The overall theme is food and each week focuses on a special category. Within those weekly categories, each day has a particular focus. For example, this week (week 1) the category is ingredients, and each day of the week you can write about different kinds of ingredients: today is dairy; tomorrow will be herbs and spices or extracts and flavoring; and Friday will be meat and poultry or seafood. Next week the category is techniques and daily topics include beans and rice (Tuesday), soups and stocks or sauces (Wednesday), and Barbeque and grilling (Thursday). The category for the third week is recipes and the final week is world cuisines.

I think this contest is a really good opportunity to jump-start your online writing exposure and tempts your motivation with cash prizes. You are flexible and free within each daily and weekly guidelines that you can practice writing to a specific assignment without the pressure of a paying client putting demands on your style.

If you haven’t been to Hub Pages yet or don’t have an account, by all means, head on over there now and get started! It only takes a few minutes to set up your account and it doesn’t cost you a dime. That’s right, it’s FREE! So you see, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Once you set up your account, browse around the site to see how it works and read some “hubs” (that’s what they call the articles on their site). Upload a couple of things you have already written (that aren’t published anywhere else) and sent me a note so I can check out your stuff and become one of your fans!

The Hub Pages June contest is well worth your time so check it out. And remember, somebody is going to win $50.00 every day: it might as well be YOU!