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Posts Tagged ‘writers’

Whether Big House or Small Press

March 7, 2012 6 comments

I’m taking yesterday’s topic of borrowing and lending to another level today. Those who’ve worked their way into the publishing business in the past few years, depending on the preconceptions of what it means to be a writer, have learned the new definition. They’ve also learned about the new work ethic of writers.

Today’s Writers

Writers shamelessly promote their work, and the work of others, everywhere they can because their careers’ futures depend on that promotion. Also, the big publishing houses today simply don’t have the promotion budgets they had in the past.

Other writers encourage us to guest blog on their sites, whether for self-promotion to a new audience or for a new book recently released. Guest blogging can also be used to promote a new voice/viewpoint about a specific topic being discussed. Either way, both the borrower of the audience and the lender of said viewers come away with something needed.

For the first time in centuries, writers are taking charge of their own livelihoods in the business. Many independent-thinking writers, who created their own presses, have turned their backs on the major publishing houses. They no longer consider it wrong to go without an agent. These career-oriented writers have changed the face of the industry in the past decade.

Small presses, POD’s and eBooks are making profits harder to come by for the big boys right now.

Future Possibilities

Whether I give information out for free, or I receive such information for free is irrelevant to the overall picture. The reason I can say that is because, in some respects, it’s beginning to look like the industry will soon be owned by the writers themselves.

Blogs and newsletters written by and for writers are created every day. They cover all the genres, and they take no prisoners. Whatever a writer wants to know is out there. Surfing and search engines make it impossible to overlook much that’s available.

When you consider that writers, editors, bloggers, along with magazines are ranking websites, newsletters, etc. on a regular basis, the built-in watchdogs guarantee that a careful user is safer from publishing scams than they used to be.

As encouragement, universities across the country are making free writing courses available by the dozen. Paid courses are also easily found and evaluated as to viability to the particular writer and skill set desired. And if a writer is determined, she can take an MFA degree online, or as a low-residency program from numerous colleges across the nation.

Advertising and promotion is easy to come by. Small, writer-controlled, publishing houses are moving in to entice new writers and secure established ones. A combo house—one which publishes both eBooks and POD simultaneously can take a well-written manuscript and turn it out to the public in a matter of only a few weeks/months instead of one to two years as happens with the big publishers. The lead time depends on the editing necessary for the manuscript and the dedication of the publishing staff.

Many of these same small presses use talented editors, promotion—including trailers and online, and help with marketing after the release of the book.

Building Publishing’s Future

Whether the new face of publishing comes at the expense of the major houses around the world isn’t the question. We should be asking if we want to rid ourselves of those big houses.

Yes, today’s average writer with a big publisher has to create her own marketing plan. That’s now considered part of the proposal package that’s submitted by the writer with the manuscript. That plan must be as broad and potentially profit-generating as one of the publishers’ marketing reps could put together. (At least, that’s how I’ve read one publisher’s guidelines wish list.)

Many readers want to see a recognized brand name on the book jacket, too. If a book isn’t signed, so to speak, by Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, or some other New York publisher, it could be overlooked or rejected by the potential reader as coming from a vanity press. The reputation of vanity presses hasn’t helped self-publishing’s image any in the past.

Recently, POD’s and small presses have pushed those that stroke someone’s vanity into the background. With the advent of eBooks and readers that fit into a pocket, good books are available and very affordable. The convenience and pricing will keep eBooks’ numbers climbing, especially with the downturn in the economy. Many of those book buyers who used to pay $20+ for a hardback book may have moved to where they can get better value for their money.

Today’s economy and personal financial woes could easily revolutionize the current big boys of the industry and force them to embrace those offerings from POD’s and eBooks. In fact, as a result of editors reading eBook offerings already available, the big houses have found new writers, writers that sell. That’s an encouraging sign.

If a person writes well, has a good story to tell, and wants to find an acceptable press, the dream is doable. That’s always been part of the publishing rules. With small presses, the author might not expect to reap as much in potential sales. Then again, there are those who’ve made millions publishing POD’s and eBooks. Marketing makes the difference.

Next time, we’ll dive into marketing. Tell me how you see today’s writing environment and the shifting sands of writers’ lives.

To Post or Not To Post

September 12, 2011 4 comments

If you’ve missed this report in the news feeds, here it is. It seems that the powers that be are contemplating a complete closure of the postal system. Yes, folks, the USPS is under scrutiny for more than paltry stamps.

The projected deficit for the agency for 2011 is between $9-11 Billion. Somehow, I don’t think adding another two cents to the cost of a stamp is going to offset that figure. Use of snail mail is down significantly with the increasing use of FAX and the internet. More businesses are doing business online. One of the few props to the system now is bulk mail (better known as JUNK MAIL.) And we all just love getting junk mail, don’t we?

Hundreds of little postal stations have already been put on the chopping block, leaving tiny communities across the country without a nearby Post Office. Many larger stations have gone to a reduced number of delivery days to defray costs.

The reports of the past few months about the state of the USPS have left me with a question or two of my own. If you’ve been around this blog often, you already knew there were questions coming, didn’t you? This time, though, the questions are strictly for the publishing industry/

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the USPS does, indeed, end operations. Where does that leave today’s publishing industry?

Many publishers, both for magazines and books, do not accept electronic submissions, and I can understand that. On the publisher’s side there is the cost of downloading a book manuscript to hard copy, sent by a writer that isn’t already on the payroll. That slush pile will get awfully slim. The publisher will have decide whether getting potential blockbusters from an electronic slush pile outweighs the cost of making hard copies.

Granted, many of those same publishers have already begun using electronic ARCs for reviewers to their new releases as a way to make the bottom line healthier. As a part-time reviewer, I see both sides of the equation on this decision. I love having the “real” book in my hands when I read. At the same time, I don’t have to wait for the delivery of my copy of a book to get out a quicker review. The ARC becomes available immediately; I download, and begin reading that same day. I even get notices when to look over the entrees for choice.

Many authors  have received electronic contracts for a few years now. Email and faxing have made this practice painless and cost-effective for both parties.

Magazine publishers may have a much harder decision to make than mere slush piles, however. While many print magazines accept only electronic submissions, others continue with only postal submissions or they accept both. Without the USPS those magazines that prefer hardcopy will find none in the mailbox. They will either have to hire IT people to create a new online system of submission for them, expect writers to send manuscripts via UPS or some other carrier, or stop publishing altogether if they don’t have a team of in-house writers.

Add to those considerations that print magazines rely on USPS for delivery of their issues to subscribers. Without postal delivery print magazines couldn’t arrive fresh and glossy for a subscriber’s squeal of delight and perusal. Online magazines would be the only option, unless they all went to quarterly or less frequent issuance and delivered by UPS. Somehow, I’m not fond of that scenario, either.

Personally, I won’t believe that the industry is ignoring this situation. Technology and how we use it are changing faster than many can keep up. Just because books have been around for centuries or more doesn’t mean that the process of writing and manufacturing them has remained static. I also don’t know that I’d want to be privy to some of those publishing house board meetings while they’re discussing this issue. Not a pretty sight, I’d imagine.

The USPS is reportedly praying that the federal government will bail them out. Given that the PO hasn’t operated in the black in my lifetime and things don’t look much rosier for the future of snail mail vs. the internet, I can’t believe the government will sink more money in the postal Titanic any time soon; especially with our economy in the tank. Then again, if those hundreds of thousands of postal workers hit the unemployment lines, we have to ask if the country is any better off.

You see the dilemma, I’m sure. The problem for the publishing industry centers on reading the tea leaves to decide how long we will continue to prop up the USPS vs. the cost of revamping how publishers do business with writers, illustrators, agents, etc.

Now it’s your turn to study the runes. What can you foresee on both sides of this economic coin? How will closure of the USPS affect you, other than your use of Holiday Cards, Birthday Cards, etc.? Let me know what you see as a possible outcome. Think about all those industries that rely on USPS being there and working each day.

Until then, a bientot,

Claudsy

Why Build a House at the End of the Road?

August 15, 2011 4 comments

When thinking about one’s career, certain preconceived notions act as warning signs. One such notion is that once you’ve started down the road toward a career in a particular field, you must never deviate from it in order to be successful.

Most of us know that the notion is nonsense, but it persists nonetheless. Part of it may come from the mindset held by our parents or early teachers, who pushed us to decide early what we wanted to do with our lives and stick with it. Security in career was encompassed one’s entire future during the 60’s, 70’s, and beyond.

A funny thing happened on the way to the future. It shifted direction with technology. Few people now continue in the same jobs/careers from high school and college all the way to retirement. Ours has become a society of workers who, through economic demands or personal preference, have stayed with a specific career until something else came along to capture our interest/passion.

There’s nothing wrong in that. In fact, the desire or need to change is a natural one. When we expand our horizons, we are mimicking the Universe. It, too, continues to expand each day. With expansion comes a stretching of the mind and one’s knowledge of self and the world. With knowledge is the potential for understanding. These are good things.

Today, you could say that just because you’ve taken your career down a specific road, that doesn’t mean you have to build a house at the end of it. If you start out as a writer/poet/painter of one specialty area, you can always move to another area of endeavor or another aspect of your first chosen area. The latter is also in keeping with expansion.

The other benefit to expansion of thought, activity, etc. is a freshening of life. The world begins to take on new colors. Attitudes shift with changes made, as well. New friends become compatriots.

I ask you, now that’s it’s been brought to your attention, why would you build a house at the end of the road you’re walking now?

If you come up with an answer to this question, please comment and let me know what it is. I love questions with answers. They spark debate and that’s a good thing.

Until later, a bientot,

Claudsy

 

 

 

Choosing One Side of the House

October 23, 2010 Leave a comment

In the publishing world there are many houses in which to hang your hat. A house is simply one aspect of the business: i.e. writer, editor, agent, publicist, marketing rep, publisher, copywriter, etc.

People choose an aspect of the business on which they wish to concentrate their efforts and take up that role.

The question comes up for all of us in this business. “What will you concentrate your energies on?”

The Dedicated Writer  

For some, writing for publication is the only goal. The dedicated writer cannot envision any other use for time and energy than to dictate stories, articles, books, or poems. The occasional diversion into marketing happens because the writer needs to sell something written.

Acting as an editor only comes during the need to critique another writer’s work who happens to belong to the writer’s critique group. The purpose of that exercise also helps to sharpen the writer’s own skills for self-editing. Today’s dedicated writer invariably belongs to a minimum of one writer’s critique group, and sometimes belongs to as many as one or two online groups and one face-to-face group. The latter scenario is common.

Many dedicated writers choose not to have an agent. Some don’t want to pay someone else to do what they feel can be done by the writer. Other’s don’t want to go through what they see as the hassle and time it takes to peddle themselves to an agent. Some do well for themselves with book contracts and periodical work and, therefore, don’t require an agent. By the same token, the average copywriter doesn’t need one, either.

Writers who work in several genres, might have as many as two or three agents. One agent for suspense thrillers, one for children’s books, and one for non-fiction books. A separate agent for screenplays or stage plays, too, tends to be indispensable. This is possible because agents each tend to deal only with certain markets. This, too, is common.

Professionals and the Dedicated Writer  

Marketing reps usually work for the publishing house and work with the author after a book deal has been signed. It’s their job to find successful retail outlets for the project as well as get pre-release reviews lined up, live interviews with the author, etc. The job takes finesse, savvy, and lots of hard work.

Many self-published authors hire a publicist to do press releases, set up interviews, etc. so that they don’t have to learn the ins and outs of that job, too. They want and need the publicity, but they don’t want the headaches of the work nor lose the writing time to it. Today’s publicist does a good deal of online work, getting the author’s name on as many cyber lips as possible. Being part of the Buzz can help the writer with sales.

Of course, there are those who recognize talent when they read it and want to create their own small press. With the current internet atmosphere, such presses are springing up every day. With a small grant to cover initial start-up costs and to carry the publisher for the first year, this enterprise can work very well, according to the business plan being used. Regardless of the business sense behind the press, however, without the ability to recognize excellent writers who can carry a reading audience, the press risks folding in short order. This goes for start-up magazines, too, on or off-line.

When A Writer Doesn’t Do Novels   

These are the major pre-release players in the publishing game. The versatile writer might use all of them before a career in publishing becomes life-long. These are the players with whom every writer needs to get acquainted.

Not every writer will make it to stardom. Not every writer will make book deals or enjoy editors calling them to dispense assignments for hefty sums. And not every writer is suited to work in that pressure cooker called the book market.

Every decent writer has a desire to share a personal view of the world. A writer also has several talents. Such talents are:

1. A good imagination and ability to see concepts.

2. An ability to know when they’re reading something good.

3. An ability to recognize when something is off in what they read.

4. A sixth sense about when a story device will work and when it won’t.

5. An ability to recognize a catchy slogan or pitch when it’s heard.

6. An ability to accurately critique, at least to some degree, others’ work.

Did you notice all those A’s on the writer’s report card? Some are natural and some are learned. All exist for the writer and used at will.

Many writers come to a conclusion early on that they don’t really have what it takes to make it as a novelist. That’s simply not how their head works. They think in short stories, some complex, some simplistic. They might also be clever with turns of phrase and do better with copywriting where the writer’s talent can concentrate on individual client’s needs for personalized work.

Still other writers begin to understand that their true talent is expressed with a blue pencil from behind the editor’s desk. They see better what someone else’s story needs than they ever did on their own.

Perhaps, the writer has a knack for finding good markets for work that isn’t their own. Figuring out the best way to get the word out about someone’s new book comes naturally to some people, and the knowledge must be shared with the other writer.

Many writers begin as editors, or take the reverse position. They might also do both.  Others are more comfortable finding talent and publishers who can use that talent. It takes all the pieces of the puzzle to make a complete picture.

Choices   

A position waits for each writer. The city newspaper needs a food columnist. The local PTA requires someone to create a newsletter for members. A small press in the next town needs regular tourist information pieces written for publication for the Chamber of Commerce. The local historical society needs several plays written for summer production during the town’s Centennial. The local American Legion chapter wants a book written about its early founders.

Not everyone is a novelist. Not everyone can find markets for written work. Not everyone can broker book deals.

With uncounted words written every day by thousands of writers, both well-known and those as-yet-undiscovered, writers have an open field of flowers from which to pluck. It is up to the individual writer to choose a role that will keep them happy and productive. Sooner or later all writers must choose which side of the house is right for them.

A bientot,

Claudsy

Interview with Krysten Lindsay Hager

October 1, 2010 7 comments

Good morning, everyone. I’ve invited Krysten Lindsay Hager here today to share some of her life and experiences with us. Please welcome her with your usual warmth.

Claudsy: Good morning, Krysten. It’s so good to have you here. I’d like to begin with a very simple question, if you don’t mind. How long have you been writing and what do you write?

Krysten: I started writing early on and won my first writing contest in the first grade. It was a school wide contest (1st-8th grade) so I thought I had died and gone to heaven. My reward? A certificate and a clown doll. Luckily it was a cute clown doll, not the nightmare inducing kind. Over the years I’ve written middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction, essays, news/journalism, and magazine articles. I really enjoy humor essays.

Claudsy: You didn’t waste any time, did you? Good for you. Would you tell us where you  live now and why are you there?

Krysten: I currently live on Terceira Island in the Azores, which are a group of Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve been here nearly three years but will be returning to the U.S. in the winter. We moved here because my husband’s job brought us here.

Claudsy: I’ve always been fascinated by the Azores and wanted to go there. But, how do you function living there? What amenities do you not get there that you would here and what do you really miss?

Krysten:  Everything is flown in or brought in by boat pretty much, which means magazines and newspapers can be held up at customs, so sometimes we’re a month or more behind. I miss current magazines and American newspapers.

The volcano in Iceland kept planes from flying in (bad weather does as well), so sometimes it’s a struggle to get food. Fresh fruits and veggies aren’t easy to get either. You can buy a few things locally from one of the farms, but most of the farms here are for raising cattle more than produce.

Claudsy: That’s a far cry from here, it’s true. Krysten, has anything changed for you since living in the islands, regarding how you look at writing?

Krysten: I found myself focused on more internet based projects and wrote for a few websites and web magazines since sending things through the mail was a big dodgy. However, when I first got here the library was closed and there was no English bookstore, so I went to a small chapel library to see what I could find to read and met this woman there.

The first thing she started telling me was about how newcomers always come in with a list of projects and goals they want to complete while they’re there, but they miss out on the fact the island is a great place to stop, listen, and reflect. She said for most people it’s the first time they can have time to just read and spend time in silence, listening instead of talking.

I admit I was super jet-lagged while having that conversation (I was dealing with a six-hour time difference), but later I thought about that and started to notice how often we aren’t alone with our thoughts or take time to reflect. So now, I try to be more observant of what’s going on around me and I find I take in much more, which can only help my writing

Claudsy: The entire change in environment must have had a major impact on you. What’s your next project going to be?

Krysten: There’s a new book blog that’s just started, where I’m going to be doing author interviews and reviews on there soon, called “Authors and Appetizers.” I’m very excited about that. I also have an essay on family traditions and a recipe coming out this fall in: Country Comfort: Holidays Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes to Warm the Heart & Soul. http://www.amazon.com/Holidays-Cookbook-Country-Comfort-Recipes/dp/1578263808/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_1

Claudsy: I’m glad you could continue to write there. What have you learned about yourself since taking up residence there? Does that affect how you feel about writing?

Krysten:  Being in Portugal has made me more aware of the different backgrounds people have, and I hope that helps me to expand as a writer, taking into consideration that not everyone has the same upbringing or grows up having the same experiences. I’ve met people from Egypt, Turkey, Puerto Rico, Spain, etc. It makes you realize there is more than one way to see a situation and seeing all these culturally diverse viewpoints makes me realize how sheltered I was in the U.S.

Just seeing the difference in a British news magazine as opposed to an American one can tell you a lot. I notice the different types of humor used and what they focus on as opposed to what you see in an American magazine. For one, European magazines don’t focus primarily on just young people and teens. Also, there is more of a focus on royalty which shows they care more about tradition than the flash in the pan entertainers.  

Claudsy: We do tend to exclude much of the rest of the world here, even with CNN. Are you going to continue to concentrate on children’s literature now? Or, are you, perhaps, going to branch out even more?

Krysten: I’ve been very interested in humor essays the last few years and although I wouldn’t write a memoir (I never get how people under 80 can even consider they’ve lived a full enough life for anything like that!), but I’d like to write about my experiences here. I also have a project I’m working on from the viewpoint of a middle school girl.

Claudsy: I’d think all sorts of people would be interested in your Azores experiences. It’s not everyone that lives in the middle of an ocean with all the diverse problems that entails–at least not those who write about it. Would you be willing to live in another country again for the adventure value as well as the writing opportunities?

Krysten: It depends on the country—ha ha! I would be interested to live in the U.K. There’s so much amazing literary talent that’s come out of England, Scotland, and Ireland that I bet you could become prolific just by drinking the water! I have found, when traveling in the U.S. that often different states have their own unique culture and it can be just as diverse traveling from Michigan to South Dakota as it is coming from the U.S. and going to Portugal.

Claudsy: I know what you mean about that observation. Could you tell everyone what your new perspective on writing is?

Krysten: I think I have a much bigger respect for the truth now. Honesty in writing is very important and thanks to Facebook statuses and personal blogs, we find people often try to showcase their lives in the best possible light, which takes away from the full human experience.

Sure it’s nice to have a positive attitude, but all the statuses where you pat yourself on the back or talk about your amazing life, aren’t a hundred percent accurate, and you don’t really learn anything about the person from that. Writers who are honest, raw, and gritty really get to the core of the human experience and that includes suffering.

No kid wants to read a book about a teen or young person with a charmed life. How could they relate? So, honesty in writing is something that I have a huge respect for—even more now than before.

Claudsy: So, tell me, if you could do anything now in your writing career, what would it be and why?

Krysten: I am going to write about my experiences overseas, but I also am looking forward to writing about my experiences with culture shock when I get back. I have not set foot in the United States for almost 3 years, and I can only imagine my reaction when I get back.

Claudsy: I think you may be even more shocked than you think. Good luck and let us know what you’re doing from time to time once you’re back. I, for one, would be terribly interested.

I want to thank you so much for joining us today, Krysten. It’s been such a pleasure talking with you and discovering what your new plans are. Is there anything else that you’d like to say to those out there in the dark?

Krysten: Yes, if you want to write, then you must read, read, read. Many times I meet writers and they talk about their projects and how they want to get published, but when you ask what authors they enjoy or what they’re reading now, they stare at you blankly. It’s repeated at every single writing conference, but if you want to write, you must read what genre you want to write.

Claudsy: There you have it, folks. If you want to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Krysten again for talking with us.

Short Personal Biography

Krsyten Lindsay Hager resides for now in the Azores with her husband. This full-time writer received her undergraduate and MLS from University of Michigan-Flint.

Her writing credits include: Women of Passions: Ordinary Women Serving an Extraordinary God  anthology, Patchwork Path: Grandma’s Choice anthology, Patchwork Path: Friendship Star anthology,  Country Comfort: Holidays Cookbook, WOW! Women on Writing magazine, Girlfriend 2 Girlfriend magazine, The Academy magazine, The Qua Literary magazine, Working Writer, Absolute Write!, Mike’s Writing Newsletter, SCBWI newsletters in Michigan, Minnesota, and the Dakotas, Natural Awakenings. Former staff writer and columnist for the Michigan Times newspaper. Former contributing writer for: The Grand Blanc View newspaper, Davison Index newspaper, Lapeer View newspaper, Popsyndicate.com. 

Writing Awards: Deadwood Art’s Council “People’s Choice Award” for best short story

Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition Honorary Mention

Be sure and visit her blog/website at: www.krystenlindsay.blogspot.com

I’ll have another something on Thursday before I trundle off to the Pacific for a scenic photo shoot and research gathering two weeks. I’ll pop in once in a while to leave tidbits for any who come to see what’s happening around here.

Enjoy yourselves while I’m gallivanting down rain forest trails and along mountain slopes. A bientot.

Claudsy

 

Expanding Limits

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment

The most enticing reality of being a writer is the fact that the job can be done anywhere. And if the writer plans ahead, it can pay for itself anywhere, too. 

Writer’s marketability insurance comes in the form of learning, studying, and anticipating future needs. Planning for those needs and contingencies takes work. 

Learning 

Writers learn something new everyday if they want to remain marketable. It’s part of the job’s requirements. Workshops on various pertinent aspects of writing are added periodically to the work load. 

Part of the reasoning for this continuing education is that trends in the publishing business shift from year to year and sometimes from month to month. The shift can effect the types of stories in demand–think vampires here. Some workshops deal with how not to become trapped in such trends. 

A workshop might revolve around language usage in both print and online work. It could be something as seemingly innocuous as word definitions that change from traditional to contemporary. Or, it could be a discussion of those publishing terms, phrases, etc. that have fallen out of favor, along with those replacing the old ones. 

Workshops dealing with technology and software usage have become increasingly necessary for the freelancer. Those workshops concentrated on web design and social networking are in demand. Simply learning how to develop a viable and usable platform becomes fodder for workshops. 

Reading other writers’ blogs and websites also contributes to any writer’s learning curve. Studying style, attitude, approaches, both toward writing in general and public displays, helps writers evaluate their own offerings. Personal re-evaluation is always valuable time usage. 

Studying 

Workshops are necessary and valuable tools for the writer. It’s true. Additional study of writing techniques comes in more formalized classwork most of the time, though. 

Taking a course in creative non-fiction can broaden a writer’s marketability into hitherto uncharted waters. This study can carve a new niche that allows the writer to share memoir pieces that wouldn’t fit the market earlier. It allows nostalgia to break through into print where before only a rejection slip arrived in the mail box. 

Expanding into a semester of poetry class can free up the Muse and teach the writer about an entirely different personal side and encourage a creativity that hadn’t yet been tapped. Poetry teaches many things about writing, not least of which is: focus, taut descriptive expression, metaphoric and symbolic expression, and observation of the surrounding world. 

In another direction, saturating oneself in a research methodology course can open up pathways that had always intimidated the writer. Technical and scientific writing is always in high demand and pays decent returns. A writer working on only short-term projects can usually find a number of these types of projects crying out for attention and get paid well for them. 

Anticipating Future Needs 

There comes a time for many writers when writing the same old stories, novels, essays, etc. just doesn’t excite the neurons like it once did. The writer wants to change styles, pen names, genres, whatever. When that feeling of personal dissatisfaction or boredom narrows its beady little eyes and dares the writer to make it go away, the tug-of-war between known work and unknown comes into play. 

One way to prevent that tug-of-war from ensuing is to anticipate that future need. The writer can dip a toe into the waters of something totally foreign and just as demanding in its own way. This exploration can be a vacation from the known writing projects. 

For example: the children’s literature devotee can try a hand at writing travel pieces. No real travel is necessary, really,  unless absolutely desired for additional vacation flavor. Concentration on sights and events close to home can make for a wonderful travel piece for those who haven’t seen them. 

Why would a writer want to do that? you ask. Most people take vacations each year. A weekend jaunt to the nearest ski lodge in cold January, if written well to standard, can pay for that trip. Regardless of the potential sale, however, the key is the change in attitude toward that ski weekend. Surroundings look and feel different because expectations, observations, and potential needs have also changed. 

All of this new observational detail adds to the writer’s artillery when putting any project into words, whether it’s a children’s story or a quick piece for the local paper. It keeps the writer’s existing skills honed and adds to them at the same time. It also allows the writer to think differently about the use of material available to them. 

Reaping the Rewards 

Any writer takes notes–mental, written, or taped. Using those notes for projects is exhilarating and energizing. When the writer can find between five and ten viable project ideas from one set of notes, the exhilaration goes into overdrive. 

Learning to take those multiple ideas, using the market studies that are mandatory for writers, creates future work that can prove profitable in many ways. No writer has to work in multiple genres. Shifting between genres, however, can broaden the writing experience and magnify the writer’s pleasure in the craft. 

Each keyboard pounder decides where to spend time with words. Whether full-time, part-time, or hobbyist, the writer sits before a smorgasbord of possible venues in which to express the life experience. As everyone knows, it always polite to sample at least a taste of each offering from the table. 

As always, a bientot, 

Claudsy

Following the Path

August 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Over the past two weeks, my writing has shifted somewhat toward journalism. I can’t define the why or when of the shift in emphasis. I can merely observe it and see where it takes me.

One of those destinations was Associated Content. I began writing for them, an article here, one there, finding my way by instinct and inclination. I’ve enjoyed it and look forward to doing many more each month. If you’d like to check out what I’ve been up to on that front, you can check out two of my articles at:

www.associatedcontent.com/article/5627856/glaciers centennial crowds find a changing.htm/ 

and also www.associatedcontent.com/article/5645172/remodelingcliches.htm/

I hope you enjoy them or can use something within them.

I’ve also arrived at a point where I miss doing my writer/editor/illustrator interviews each week. I can say that now that my life is somewhat more settled than it has been in a long while.

So that feature is going to come back. I’ve decided to begin with one interview each week, and work my way back up to more frequent segments as work allows. I look forward to talking with so many people in the publishing business, whether behind the desk or on the submission’s end. Hopefully, I will be able to begin those interviews within a couple of weeks.

For those interested in what I’m actually spending my time on other than the occasional article for online reading, I am working on three books at the moment. One children’s easy reader chapter book, one book of poetry for adults, and another book of specially designed poetry for readers 13 to just this side of the beyond.

Queries will be going out to agents on the chapter book within the week. I have my own deadline for the special poetry book placed at Aug. 31, and the other one should come together and be ready for query duty by the end of the month as well.

Besides those projects I have two YA fantasy novels, one urban and the other high fantasy,  that I’m working on at this time. I waffle between manuscripts to keep things interesting.

The odd blog and short story also get thrown into the mix each week and I write poetry for FB’s Micro Poetry and WD’s Poetic Asides.

So, you can see that I’m keeping busy. When I’m not at the keyboard, I’m usually out with my sister on photo shoots. She just became a professional fine art photographer. And a fine job she does, too. While I’m out with her, I get lots of material for poetry and storylines. Amazing how that works.

And there you have it. My normal week. I socialize online and off. Have the occasional meal. [There are those who say I never skip one.] I do my household chores when necessary. And try, above all else, to enjoy life while I have one.

I hope everyone has a marvelous week. I have to take a few days away on a wee trip. So while I’m gone, enjoy yourselves. I’ll be back on the weekend with something new. Who knows what, but something.

Take care, all, and God bless.

A bientot,

Claudsy

Games For Inspiration

June 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Every day writers everywhere are yearning for the Muse to open her arms and bestow brilliance upon their verse or story or article. That’s to be expected. But have you ever wondered exactly where Muse might live?

I ask this simple question because I hadn’t seriously thought about it before a few days ago. When I’d rather be doing anything else but writing, I play games on my computer to give my mind a rest. Others, I’m sure, do word games and the like to open the doors of creativity.

I’m not talking about writer’s block, really; just those times when boredom with existing material has trumped the desire to work it.

I found that when I play Mahjong on the computer something odd happens. At least for me. The tileset that I use is a standard one–all Chinese characters. For those who play the game in it’s varied forms it can become as enticing as chess and as addictive as solitaire.

I allow my mind free rein while playing, a kind of mini-mental vacation. But the other day, I heard myself relating verbally to each tile as I clicked on it. That startled me, as well you can imagine. I was actually creating a small fantasy adventure, laden with mystery. Each tile represented a piece of the puzzle. Four scrolls were taken east along with eight bars of gold. The treasure came to… and so on.

Players of traditional style Mahjong will know that those scrolls are a character with the numeric designation–four, east is its own tile referring to wind, and the gold is a tile that has a numeric designation of 8 with a red bar below. In ranch brand lingo it would say Eight Bar Ranch.

By the end of the game, whether I’ve won it or not, I have come away with a new creative surge in my heart and mind. It hums in the background giving me tiny bits of itself in quiet song as I go back to work. The game has allowed my mind to step back a moment to regroup. I now can see the story plot I’m working on in a new light, a more lively light, that can take on new proportions and complexity. Even articles can look different because I have seen a new angle, a new question to be answered.

Psychologists would probably say that the very act of play resets our perceptions and attitudes, which allow the individual a chance to look with fresh eyes at whatever comes next. That’s a good enough theory for me at this time. I don’t have to analyze it so long as it continues to give me something usable.

Speaking of which, I really need to finish one of the projects.

Take care and play with you Muse when she’s not being cooperative. Everyone/thing can use playtime to advantage. Ask any puppy or kitten.

A bientot,

Claudsy