Sunday, April 18, 2010

Wedding Blog and Writing Updates

I am still in a period in my life (and the same goes for the writer-fiance) where real life gets in the way of writing.

Right now he's getting back on the bandwagon with his writing after falling off for awhile during Spring vacation, a friend's wedding, March Madness, etc. I, on the other hand, have hardly been able to get back on the wagon, as evidenced by my sparse blogging. My job and other commitments are still kicking my butt, in addition to the fact that sometimes, when you're plugging along writing and waiting to get finished and start querying, there's just not as much to report on! I'm continuing to survive on an attitude of self-acceptance (or forgiveness?) and hope that when the school year ends I'll have more time to start blogging regularly again.

In the meantime, I have started one new project in an effort to get myself writing more again, even if it isn't about writing and publishing. I have joined Chicago Wedding Guide's Sassy Chicago Bride blog to start blogging about my wedding planning experience and other wedding and engagement related details. If you're interested in that subject, check out My entries can all be found by searching "SassyChiBride." My first entry is a simple introduction to me and the background of my wedding planning (for June 18th, 2011). Also, wedding-related updates and info (for me and others) will be posted on my new Twitter account, @sassychibride.

My personal writing lesson for this is that when life kicks your usual writing in the butt, find other creative outlets to keep you going until you get your desired routine back on the ground. :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Interview: Anything is Possible with Richard Dedor

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Richard Dedor, the author of Anything is Possible, on his writing, publishing and life philosphies. Richard first rose to fame when he ran for mayor of his home town, Mason City, Iowa, at age 18. Even though he lost, he remained committed to his campaign slogan, The Time is Now, and he continues to live each day dedicated to leading, achieving, and affecting the world around him. Read the interview below for writing and life inspiration, and check his book out on Amazon or at his own website:

One part of your life that you are very open about is your decision to run for mayor of Mason City, Iowa, at age 18, finish third, and yet still proclaim that your campaign was victorious. This ties into one of your philosophies that failure equals success. Could you explain more about that philosophy?

I know it sounds simplistic and seven years after the loss, it is pretty easy to be positive about the results, but knowing in my heart that I did all I could at 18 to win, that I wore my heart on my sleeve, that I stayed true to my ideals and my vision, that makes me a winner in my eyes. I also know I had people who didn’t care about politics, especially city politics who were energized by my candidacy which goes to show how important passion is in whatever you do.

You also emphasize the idea of trying anything and everything. How does that open and bold attitude increase one’s chances of success and happiness in life?

When you live life with every option on the table, anything is a possibility. When you start tossing this and that off as options, you limit exponentially the opportunities and possibilities. All we know is what is in front of us – our next choice – our next decision. We have no idea how the next five minutes will impact the next five years of our lives, so I advocate and try to do anything and everything I can. Of course this comes at the price of being overcommitted, so it is definitely a delicate balance.

You write in the opening to your book, Anything is Possible, “The moment to do something is now.” How does this apply to aspiring authors? How does this apply to your life on a daily basis?

I will probably be chastised by my future agent and publisher by what I say next: I am not the best writer out there. I am only personally striving to do a few things as a writer. First I want to get better with each word. I also want my words to challenge me personally. Finally, I want my writing to challenge the reader. But I and other writers can’t do that if we don’t write. A painter can’t sell a painting if they don’t risk it all and brush their first stroke. There is no reason to wait. Absolutely none.

You also state that in the last few years you have met “amazing and inspiring” people. Who is one of the most inspiring people you’ve met and why?

I could list of a whole bunch of people. Jim MacLeran. Nathanael Porembka. Paul Wesselmann. Stephen Barnes. The list goes on and on. Each person is obviously different and has affected me in a different way, but the thing I’ve learned from them all is that I am a unique person of value and I should spend my life sharing my passion with others. I should never let “no” get in my way. And I should certainly not stop myself.

When and why did you decide to write an inspirational book?

I think I made the initial decision to write a motivational book seven or eight years ago. I’ve always been an emotional person and the stories of humanity have always touched me and I wanted to do the same. You can do that with fictional characters, but to me, there is nothing like seeing and reading about a real-life person who has either done great things because they were passionate and didn’t quit or to read about someone who had every chance and every reason to quit, but didn’t. I wanted to tell a story like that. In the acknowledgements I say that my greatest achievement in life will be if the people who read the book end up believing that anything is possible.

After you had written Anything is Possible, what influenced your decision to publish your book through CreateSpace?

I submitted the book to various agents and publishers through their stipulated procedures just to gauge the interest level. I’m a rookie writer in the cull-length book sense. I knew I had that against me. I’m young writing a non-fiction book and I knew I had that against me. However, I have thought about this project for seven years and I believe in it so much that I wanted to get it out to start changing lives. My goal isn’t to make it on the New York Times Best Seller list. Of course that would be amazing and awesome and I would certainly enjoy that, but my goal is just to change one person’s life. CreateSpace gave me a perfect and seamless avenue to do that.

In what ways might your book appeal especially to writers?

Any artist knows what it is like to create something and have no one like or appreciate it. We’ve all been there. Building a house is easy in the sense that you have a plan and you stick to the plan and you’re going to get what’s on the blueprint. Writing a book is quite different. You have an outline or a vision, but you just have the hope that the characters or the vision is strong enough to carry you through. This book seeks to get you past that initial, “I can’t possibly write a book.” But the thing is, you are correct in that you can’t write the book. You first have to write a sentence. Then a paragraph. Then a page and a chapter and soon, you have a book. This is the kick in the butt we all need from time to time.

Authors, whether self or traditionally published, are necessarily involved in marketing their work nowadays. What is one marketing technique or tool that you have used that you would recommend?

You definitely have to use social media that is relevant to your subject. You have to talk about it. You have to be passionate about it. Writing a good book is a big deal! Share it wherever you go! Be proud of it. People who are proud and passionate about their work will find success. For me, I have former and future speaking clients and they are really excited that I finally have a book they can take with them and for me, that has been the best marketing.

We writers can sometimes be our own worst enemies, especially when the little devil of doubt sits on our shoulders. How do we “overcome ourselves,” so to speak?

You have to surround yourself with at least one other person who has bought into your vision and will keep you on focused on the end goal. I am glad I had that. Without it, I wouldn’t be talking about the book today. I would have quit writing it. When you have that team around you, they keep you going, they keep you focused, and they can also tell you the honest truth. Plus, they will be there with coffee on the late nights and a beer at the end of the journey.

In your book and work with motivational speaking, and now, what is a final thought you’d like to leave readers with?

Write. Plain and simple – write! I’m in the process of deciding my next project, but through it all, through the searching to find my next inspiration I haven’t quit writing. As I said, my goal is to impact one person; what happens after that for me is just gravy on the mashed potatoes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Writing, Reviews, and Motivation

It isn't difficult to find evidence of writers bemoaning harsh reviews, arguing over the validity of reviews, or blogging about what motivates them to write. The links I've posted in the previous sentence represent just one example of what is easy to find on the internet.

Why are these things so easy to find? Because we, as writers, really want to write. We love to write. But we doubt ourselves. The little devil of doubt sits on our shoulder whispering, But you have to clean up the living room. Your favorite TV show is on. You can write later. And it often works because we are afraid to fail. Afraid to write and not finish, afraid to write and be told it's not good, even though we know that we must write in order to finish and we must write in order to become better writers.

Harsh reviews of our work only magnify our fears. Yes, we can tell ourselves that everyone, even the best writers get bad reviews. And that is true. Yes, we can remind ourselves of all of the people who have been touched by our work and enjoyed it. But these reminders don't stop the little devil from using bad reviews as another whisper of doubt.

I recently read a quote by John Updike that encompasses these fears, but also gives a motivational answer to them:

"When I write, I aim in my mind not toward New York but a vague spot a little east of Kansas. I think of the books on library shelves, without their jackets, years old, and a countryish teen-aged boy finding them, and having them speak to him. The reviews, the stacks in Brentano's are juist hurdles to get over, to place the books on that shelf."

Find your motivational focus, one that can shut up even that little devil.

And feel free to motivate others by posting your motivation below.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Submission/ Critique Contest with Suzie Townsend of FineLit Print and Elana Johnson Book Contest

Or, as I would like to title this entry: Beat Monday Blues, Win Books and Other Cool Stuff

Back to work Mondays aren't always the happiest of days. But this one is getting a bit brighter with fab new contests.

First, go to Elana Johnson's blog to win one of SEVEN autographed books!

Second, go to Suzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins' blog, Shooting Stars, to win an agent critique, a tote bag, books or Enstrom's toffee. Yum!

Follow the links to enter. And Good Luck!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Publishing versus Self-Publishing: Be Honest

This week I attended what was titled an "Author's Workshop." To be as clear as possible without identifying specific people/ places, this was not through a writer's conference or event, it was one event among many during a 2-day arts/ humanities festival at a high school. The events were attended by students and I was there as a supervisor. At this particular event the author discussed many things about his background that were of interest to students and writing was just one of them.

Being someone who is interested in both self-publishing and publishing, I was interested in what I might learn. Early in the portion of the talk that had to do with writing, a red flag went off in my mind when I heard the author talk about being in talks with Barnes and Noble over getting the book stocked. The author had made no mention of the book being self-published, but I've never heard of traditional publishers having to convince B&N or other major chains to stock their books. I immediately looked the book up online and saw that it had been published over a year ago through a major self-publishing company.

As the talk continued, the writer made general references to the input one gets on the book cover, the editing process, etc., all with NO mention of the book being self-published. When self-publishing was finally referenced in the final 2 minutes of the talk, the writer intimated that having a self-published copy of the book was something one could send to publishing houses to give them an idea of what the book would look like (technically true, though this tidbit neglects the fact that in 99% of the cases, self-publishing and THEN trying to traditionally publish the same book is actually a strike against it in terms of an agent or publishing house taking it on).

There are prolific writings online regarding the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing. Either choice can be a good one depending on what your personal goals for your writing are. However, whichever route you choose, you should be transparent about it, especially when speaking to young people or prospective writers about your choice. Do you need to announce that you're self-published versus traditionally published to everyone you speak to? Not necessarily. But if you're in a position to educate people about the publishing process, then transparency is a necessity. To not be transparent in such a case does a disservice to those seeking information on both the traditional and self-publishing processes.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Apologies, Engagements, and Updates

So, my blogging has become a little sparse lately. I feel bad about that, and I feel a little worse knowing that while I will maintain roughly a blog a week, my posts themselves may be a bit weaker for awhile . . .but I'm going to be honest about why and in doing so let any guilt or self-reprimanding go . . .

The S.O. and I are engaged! I hadn't been expecting it any time soon, but it happened, and, unfortunately for my blog and Twitter, avoiding the work I get paid for by obsessively reading writing tweets and writing blogs has been replaced by bride sites and wedding articles.

The other reason that I haven't blogged as much lately builds on a previous blog. The S.O. and I are in a good position with his writing, but not in a position where there is much new to report on. Recently there were 3 library talks that went well. The libraries advertised his appearance, there were a good number of people who showed at each appearance, the talks went well and books were sold. Now he has a number of librarians who can serve to recommend him and his book to other libraries, which is one new plus. His writing has been steady and the goal is still to finish draft one by the end of February, then revise until it is ready to be sent out to agents, hopefully by the summer of 2010. Kindle sales of the self-published novel have been steady without us paying for advertising. We know that if we paid we could get it ranked in the top 50 or even top 10 temporarily, but we don't have the cash to spend on it right now. As it is, it has been successful overall and did make it into the top 100 a few times in the category of Men's Adventure fiction.

Bottom line: I will continue to share our experiences with getting published as well as other great information, blogs, and links that I find, but you'll have to forgive me if the blog is a bit sparse for awhile. ;)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Writing Addiction

Sometimes it takes something bad to get something good. Sad and cliched, but also true (excuse the also cliched phrase). The S.O. took the stolen laptop as a sign that he needed to get serious- or at least more so- about his writing. Writing would be his new addiction. To that end, he took his beloved Play Station, removed it from his residence, and locked it in an off-site storage locker. One major distraction removed, he is focusing harder than ever on completing novel #2. He has gone from writing a handful of days a week to writing every day. No longer needing to leave the house in order to focus, he stays in and has multiple writing sessions a day.

And the results are rewarding. Not only is he now completing 3 chapters a week on average and set to finish draft #1 by the end of February, but he exhibits pride in himself and his work on a daily basis. In addition, he feels that his re-write of the 2 chapters he lost is better than the original (and I'm sure we've all had a revision experience like that).

What is your bad to good writing story? Or bad to good life story?