As a writer, it can take quite some time to come up with an ultimate career goal.
After months, even years, of writing and submitting, many writers decide the writer’s life is not quite the beautiful dream they thought it would be.
In fact, it’s really just a lot of hard work and, well, a lot of writing.
Other writers decide to stick with the writing, but they change focus along the way to the career of their dreams.
They suddenly “get” how they can narrow the focus of their writing, yet attract more readers, customers, and clients.
As they gain more publication credits, they branch out and search for more opportunities for public speaking, too.
The key to realizing your ultimate career goal is to get really, really clear as to just what that goal is.
After all, if you don’t know where you’re going, how can you possibly figure out how to get there?
Here are a few questions for reflection.
Use your Success Journal to write down these questions and leave a page or so for each of your answers.
1. What is your ultimate career goal (what would your ideal writing career look like)?
Try to describe this in as much detail as possible.
Include what your writing schedule would look like.
How much would you be writing?
What would you be writing?
Where would you be writing?
How much money would you be earning each month from your writing?
Would you be doing any public speaking in addition to writing?
If so, where would you be speaking? Who would you be speaking to?
How much income would you earn each year through speaking?
2. What would be the big advantages of reaching your ultimate career goal?
List as many advantages as you can think of. Money shouldn’t be the only advantage.
3. What would be the disadvantages of reaching your ultimate career goal?
List as many disadvantages as you can think of – even fame and fortune have disadvantages.
4. How do you FEEL when you think of the disadvantages of your ultimate career goal?
Are these feelings keeping you from really striving to reach your ultimate career goal?
If so, do you need to change your goal or simply learn to overcome any negative feelings?
5. Take a look at all the actions on your marketing plan or to-do list.
Are these actions leading you to the ultimate writing career you’ve described in your answers to these questions?
Why or why not? Explain in detail.
Your answers to these questions should help you get clearer about your ultimate career goal.
With increased clarity, you should be able to create a more targeted marketing plan to move toward this goal.
For more tips and resources for writers visit www.writebythesea.com and get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge to receive a short email for writers every weekday morning.
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Sunday, February 10, 2019
Bored of winter? Sick of the snow? Or, in my case, completely over what counts as winter in Southern California? It's cold and rainy weather, by the way.
You don't need to go outside to have a great adventure. Write one. Take a few minutes - take an hour - and start on a new story.
Here are three writing prompts designed to get you through the winter doldrums.
1. Spring Fling. Nothing says "change of seasons" like a party to welcome spring. Plan an elaborate "to do" from the guest list and invitations to location, food, and activities. Then, jump on in and have a ball, and then write about it. You can do this as yourself or a new character.
2. Summer Fun. Time for a summer vacation ... in February ... on paper. If you could go anywhere, all-expenses paid, where would it be? Why? Sky's the limit, so what are you waiting for. Don't forget to tell us all about it. Write it as a letter, a fictional travel essay, or as a treatment for what could become a much more in-depth story.
3. Fall Frenzy. You didn't think these would all be good, did you? Think ahead to the end of summer/beginning of fall. You are getting set to start the new school year and something happens ... then something else ... and something else. Pile on the problems, and write your way out of it. It's fictional, so there really is no such thing as too outrageous. Besides, with all the fictional problems you create, the last thing you will be thinking about is bad weather.
There''s nothing like writing to get out of the slushy snow and on to warmer thoughts. You never know. One of these writing prompts may spark a new novel, essay, or screenplay. Have fun and see where your story takes you.
* * *
The D*E*B Method: Goal Setting Simplified and Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group. She is author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, and host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat. Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.
Sunday, February 3, 2019
As this is the first time in over 10 years that I missed my publish day, I though this article appropriate.
When I first started out in my writing career, I began to think more and more about organizing my writing. But, I was in what I call, slow mode. I worked on my stories with the intent to eventually... hopefully get published. However, I was in no rush; writing came after everything else I had to do.
Being a former accountant, I decided to make writing my second career.
Suddenly, I was writing and illustrating a book my family decided I should self-publish. That meant researching companies that offered print-on-demand service along with working on the book itself.
While in the process of doing this, I was writing other works and submitting them to publishers and agents. As with most of us, I received rejection after rejection.
I also joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). This site has tons and tons of helpful writing and publishing information from new and seasoned writers. In addition to this, I joined a critique group.
Writing clubs were on my mind too. I found a good one at the time and that was when my writing took on more depth and I entered the business of writing.
At the time I joined the writing club, my book was in the process of going to the printing stage of publishing. So, I had to broaden my writing arena to include learning about marketing and publicity on a very low budget. I also became a member in several children's writer's groups online. Juggling all these things was a true challenge, one that I didn't always live up to.
In addition to all this, I tried to participate in every teleseminar and teleconference I came across as well as doing research on writing and marketing. To add more on my plate, I became a co-moderator in a very active critique group, and I created a website and a blog. At times, it felt very overwhelmed.
What I finally realized, out of necessity, is that I had to create and enforce a time management schedule.
This came to a boiling point when I received a letter from an agent requesting 3 chapters of my short story along with a 3-5 page synopsis.
I was so overwhelmed at the time, I didn't immediately respond.
Okay, it was also because I didn't have a 3-page synopsis ready. Because I was so frazzled I sent the agent the chapters she requested, but told her if she still wanted my synopsis after reading the chapters I would love to send it.
I still cringe at my stupidity when I think of this . . . at the lost opportunity.
After this long, long lead in, my advice is:
Don't wait until you become so frazzled by an overwhelming workload and lack of organization that you become your own stumbling block to success.
If you're reading this now and don't have a time management schedule in place, MAKE ONE TODAY and try your best to stick to it.
This article was first published at:
Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author and children’s ghostwriter as well as the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move. You can find out more about writing for children and her services at: Karen Cioffi Writing for Children.
Check out the DIY Page while there!
And, get your copy of Walking Through Walls (a middle-grade fantasy adventure set in 16th century China. Honored with the Children’s Literary Classics Silver Award).
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Sunday, January 27, 2019
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ―
Breakout Session with Caroline Starr Rose
Caroline offered sage advice on writing for children, and for that matter, any kind of writing, in her “Writer’s Manifesto.” For at some point, writers need to “put their writing out there,” which, moving out of the cocoon of our office to meeting the public, can be a scary experience indeed. She remembers a time when she struggled. That’s when she took the time to think about what she needed and came up with The Writer’s Manifesto.
She suggests going back to the basics. Laying groundwork for yourself to refer back to again and again in your writing journey. First ask: Why do you write? Curiosity? Love of children? Love of the subject matter? Remembering why helps.
Caroline said she writes for her fifth-grade self—middle grade; picture books for children and parents. Why she writes? To make beautiful works of enduring value. She added, “I want my words to honor childhood and to extend dignity to children.”
Then there’s the slithery slope of success. For down at the bottom is the deep, dark hole of failure. The path to success is a moving target, as Caroline pointed out, with plenty of room for disappointment. Somehow, you need to find a way to survive these ups and downs, for there will be both, successes and failures. Second: What is your definition of success?
By creating sustainable definitions of why you write and what success means to you, you will have laid the foundation you will need in order to stay grounded. First and foremost, these two definitions will help keep your mindset in your control, and no one else’s. There will be no room for doubt.
In addition to keeping your mindset in your control, Caroline’s Writer’s Manifesto offers additional ways to stay grounded. Here are the two that come up frequently.
• You have become a success. You have multiple published works with traditional publishers that are selling well, even winning awards. The Writer’s Manifesto says, “Hold success loosely.” Remember: Success is a gift, not a given. It’s a gift when someone likes your book. When you receive praise and are treated as someone special, hold it loosely. Don’t think you’re more important than anyone else. Stay grounded: Remember why you write and how you define success.
• You are rubbing elbows with authors and illustrators who have garnered success. You can’t help it. You find yourself comparing yourself to them and feeling envious. And what’s worse, your peers don’t even notice you. At times like this, take the long view. Stay generous. Another person’s success doesn’t mean there is less opportunity for you. Acknowledge that you’re envious. Use your envy as a map. Follow this map to where you want to go. These successful artists are your inspiration. View them that way. Stay grounded: Remember why you write and how you define success.
Caroline’s Writer’s Manifesto can be your anchor. It can be your guide, leading your thoughts and opinions to the highest place they can go. Creating a manifesto of your own can save you a lot of time and effort, so you can re-focus your energies on what matters: your works.
Here are the questions on a handout, “A Writer’s Manifesto: Who You Are, What You Value, and Why It Matters,” which Caroline gave to each participant:
• Why do you write?
• What is your sustainable definition of success?
• How can you deal with comparison and envy?
• Creating your Own Manifesto:
*What ideals do you want to hold to?
*What truths do you want to guide you?
*What do you want to stand for?
*What do you want to avoid?
In parting, Caroline urged us: READ THIS!!! https://www.mariondanebauer.com/blog/2015/09/the-deepest-gift/
Visit Caroline's website at and her blog for helpful writing information and tips. Caroline is an active member of our SCBWI regional chapter. She lends her expertise and help in our activities throughout the year. She is a delight to know and we are grateful for her participation and support.
Clipart courtesy of: https://www.mycutegraphics.com.
|Some of my writing partners|
Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. Her first book, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, will be available soon. Currently, she is hard at work on The Ghost of Janey Brown, Book Two in the series. Follow Linda at www.lindawilsonauthor.com.
Friday, January 25, 2019
Tips for Selling Essays to Magazines ---- Should I submit a pitch or a draft?
The question of sending a full draft or a pitch varies from magazine to magazine. Follow your selected magazine’s guidelines and requirements for submittal, if possible.
Here are points of reference:
• Literary journals customarily require full drafts for submittal.
• If you don’t have clips of published essays, a good rule of thumb is to submit essays on spec, meaning in full draft form.
• When your essay is difficult to convey in a pitch, send a full draft.
• On a tight schedule? Get your pitch out there and buy yourself some time to draft it.
• Some editors prefer to receive a pitch. Search the magazine’s website or place a call for the info.
• If your essay topic is relative to breaking news, your best choice may be to pitch your idea.
• When you’ve worked with an editor previously, a pitch may be all that’s needed to assign the essay.
• Should your essay require in depth research and include interviews, pitching the idea may be best.
To grab your reader, compose the essay as you would a story with one theme, a beginning, middle, and end. Include dialogue, setting, and engaging description.
You may choose to write a personal essay sharing a part of your life with others. Personal Essays connect and communicate to the reader they are not alone. As I worked through an essay about being emotionally sidelined during childhood I knew I was not alone and wanted encourage others with similar experiences. Writing a personal essay in first-person narrative is customary.
Personal essays are just that: personal. You are telling true-life experiences that may also lead to discussing a subject about which you are passionate. These essays are public—it’s important to consider the subjects you would rather keep private for your journal alone.
** Last time we talked about getting a handle on our Copyrights. I’ve added a couple links you may find useful.
Deborah Lyn Stanley : MyWriter's Life .
Write clear & concise, personable yet professional.
Know your reader.
Use quotes & antidotes.
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
By W. Terry Whalin
How do you find your tipping point in book publishing? Or to ask it a slightly different way: what elements have to come together for book to become a bestseller? One of the critical elements in my view is great writing and storytelling. Good writing helps people spread the word or buzz about the book (word of mouth). Yet some wonderfully written books don’t get to the bestseller list.
Several years ago, I was interviewing Jerry B. Jenkins for a story related to one of the Left Behind books. Jerry realizes the unusual way his series of books has caught public attention—with over 60 million copies in print and a huge appetite for the concept which continues today with about 10,000 units of the first book continuing to be sold. Jerry wrote the first book in 1995.
Jerry recommended that I read a book from Malcolm Gladwell called The Tipping Point, How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Little, Brown Company, 2000). A tipping point according to Gladwell is that magical moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips and spreads like wildfire. What causes it?
The Law of the Few is one of the critical elements where three groups intersect and come together. These three factors are: connectors, mavens, and salesmen. A connector is someone who knows lots of people and Gladwell gives a simple test. He takes about 250 surnames from the Manhattan phone book. You are to scan the names and see if you know someone with that last name. As he says on page 41, “All told, I have given the test to about 400 people. Of those, there were two dozen or so scores under 20, eight over 90, and four more over 100…Sprinkled among every walk of life, in other words, are a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances. They are Connectors.”
A Maven is one who accumulates knowledge. “A Maven is a person who has information on lots of different products or prices or places. This person likes to initiate discussions with consumers and respond to requests.” (p. 62) So you see two of the elements—mavens and connectors.
“In a social epidemic, Mavens are data banks. They provide the message. Connectors are social glue: they spread it. But there is also a select group of people—Salesmen—with the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing, and they are as critical to the tipping of word-of-mouth epidemics as the other two groups.” (p. 70).
Do I have it figured out? Not at all. I believe Gladwell is on to something significant for these factors to come together to tip the balance and make a book move from one level to the bestseller category. I hope it provides you with a bit of my insight. I still have a great deal to learn about this particular question.
How do books finally make a tipping point to become a bestseller? Let me know in the comments below.
How can you find the tipping point for your book? Get some ideas here. (Click to Tweet)
W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link). One of his books for writers is Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success. One of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has over 205,000 twitter followers.
Friday, January 18, 2019
Some say you should read like a reader and others say you should read like an editor or a scientist, dissecting what you read to see what works.
Some say read, read, read your genre and then stop reading while you write, so you don't accidentally let whatever you're reading influence your own work too much.
Others say read, read, read all the time, in your genre and others.
I write short stories in a variety of genres, novels (fantasy and sci fi), travel essays, travel guides, and various other types of work. But I have to admit that my reading habits are a bit more narrow. I tend to mostly read novels instead of short stories. I read travel guides to places I plan to travel, but don't read as much other travel writing as I should. Part of this, of course, is due to limited time.
So, to make my reading of short work more efficient, I use the anthology approach.
Benefits of Reading Yearly Anthologies
Long-standing, well-respected anthologies are great because they collect some of the (subjectively) best fiction of the year from various magazines. You don't waste time with mediocre stories. You get a feel for what's current and what editors are throwing their support behind. Go ahead and dissect these stories and learn from them.
Another valuable aspect of an anthology is that you see which magazine first published which story. This is very useful for your own work. You know the old advice about submitting to magazines: read a few issues first to see if your work fits. This is excellent advice. Unfortunately, we don't always have time to read a few issues of every magazine. Luckily, anthologies give you a shortcut. Pick out the stories you like or that could be good matches to yours, then see which magazines they were published in. Start submitting to those magazines.
Some Good Anthologies:
The O. Henry Prize Stories, edited by Laura Furman.
The Pushcart Prize; Best of the Small Presses, edited by Bill Henderson.
The Best American Short Stories, edited by Heidi Pitlor and various yearly editors. Obviously the yearly editor puts a slant on things, so some years may be more "best" than others.
The Best American series has other genre-specific anthologies, such as The Best American Essays, The Best American Travel Writing, The Best American Mystery Short Stories, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, etc. Look for your target genre to see if they have one that matches.
The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Rich Horton. Also in the series, The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, edited by Paula Guran.
The Best Horror of the Year, edited by Ellen Datlow.
Many of these can be found at your local library as well as at online and brick-and-mortar bookstores.
You can read (and listen to) Melinda Brasher's most recent short story sale at Pseudopod. It's a tale of a man who doesn't believe in superstition...until he has to. You can also find her fiction in Ember, Timeless Tales, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and others. If you're dreaming about traveling to Alaska this summer, check out her guide book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide. Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com
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