Why Network?

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Networking with an editor and other writers over lunch.

Eva Marie Everson posted a video clip on Facebook. She’d ask James Watkins what was the one piece of advice he’d give authors. His answer. “Three words: network, network, network.”

As an author and editor he understands the value more than most.

We’d rather write

Writers are stereotyped as introverts and shy. Although I have never been accused of either, I understand how much alone time is required to create awesome words.  Writers prefer to spend their free hours writing and reading rather than anything else. But networking is too essential to be ignored.

An important key

Networking is a key to getting published. Really!  The more writers you get to know, editors you befriend and publishers you are acquainted with opens doors. At a conference you may find the perfect lead to a magazine or editor who is looking for the very thing you write. The book you pitched to Editor A wasn’t suited to his present needs. After a few conferences of maintaining dialogue with Editor A, he asks to see the manuscript you pitched a few years ago. Now his publisher is frantic for your theme.

people meeting around table

Critique groups are networking opportunity too.

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I keep in touch with Susan Baganz, Acquistion Editor for Prism Book Group on Facebook.

You’re struggling to improve your craft. Your rejection letter, all have a common theme—your writing’s not great. A writer friends hooks you up with a critique group. The group helps you see the weak spots and encourages your progress. You get the contract that’s evaded you for years.

Writer friends understand you and your goals. So build those relationships.

Editors are more likely to give your manuscript a second look if they are acquainted with you and see your persistence in developing into a better writer.

Network in your community

Networking isn’t restricted to the writing world. Historical writers might get involved with local historical societies. Any genre might find some buyers at local festivals. Visitors will discover you’re an author. They find it cool to know someone local writes “real” books.  Network with an organization that promotes the message you spent years putting on paper. If your story is about adoption or foster care, volunteer in organizations who banner your cause.

Networking helps create a fan base for book sales, future contracts, and speaking engagements.

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Rowena Kuo, Acquistion Editor of LPC and I developed a great friendship over the years that eventual lead to my current contract.

Works for me

My personal journey to publication was on the road of networking. The people in the literary world I have gotten to know and helped on their journey have made a difference. As I explained in a previous post, it took me ten years to get a book contract. I truly believe if I had not made an effort to network, I would still be on the outside looking in. I say a hearty amen to James Watkins statement. Network, network, network.

What are your thoughts on networking? What kind of success have you had with networking? Please leave a comment.

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Conference tip # 8 Choosing Classes and Workshops

Here’s my Throwback Thursday conference blog post from my ten tips from 2015. Today is number 8. Choosing the right workshops and classes can make all the difference.

Writer's Patchwork Blog

Bob Hostetler was both a general session speaker and a workshop leader for the 2013 WTP Conference.  He was on my must attend list of workshop choices that year. Bob Hostetler was both a general session speaker and a workshop leader for the 2013 WTP Conference. He was on my must attend list of workshop choices that year.

Now you’ve got all the tools in your toolbox ready to go. Get a cup of coffee and peruse the class and workshop offering of the conference you want to attend. Think about where you are in your writing life.

Newbies and Novices

Newbies should take beginner classes. If your favorite author is teaching an advance class don’t go. You’ll miss the basics and be overwhelmed by all the advance material. Try to sit at your favs table at lunch instead. Or introduce yourself during a break. Stay with basic classes for better success.

Questions for experienced writers

Is the class being offered in your genre something you need? If you’ve already attended fiction 101 in the past a few times…

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Quiz, Quotes and Originality

Dove candy

I was eating Dove chocolates and trying to decide what to write for this week’s blog. As I unwrapped a few pieces, (I won’t say how many) the idea came to me. Each wrapper contains a quote. So here is my theme for today. Do you realize that all clichés started as original thoughts? I’ve created a list of quotes and I want you to guess the origins. Don’t peek at the answers until you’re done. Some of these are lines from movies, TV ads and books. This is a way to get you thinking about famous words and the point I will be making.

Can you guess the origin?

  1. What you see is what you get.
  2. .I’m Ok, You’re okay.
  3. Show me the money.
  4. Can you hear me know.
  5. Where’s the beef.
  6. You know what I’m sayin’.
  7.  Life is just a bowl of cherries.
  8. Life goes on.
  9. Love is never having to say you’re sorry.
  10. To be or not to be…
  11. Not so funny when the shoe is on the other foot.
  12. Not my circus, not my monkey.
  13. Come out smelling like a rose.
  14. A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
  15. The Force is with you.what You See -Dog

Answers:

  1. Comedian Flip Wilson as his character Geraldine
  2. Title of a self-help book by Thomas A. Harris
  3. Line from movie Jerry Maguire
  4. Verizon commercial
  5. Wendy’s commercial circa 1984
  6. Line from Trailer Park Boys, and We’re the Millers
  7. Popular song published in 1931
  8. Robert Frost (the original quote is much longer)
  9. Erich Segal novel Love Story
  10. Shakespeare’s Hamlet
  11. Uncertain (my internet search turned up no origin)
  12. Polish expression
  13. Popular in 1968. Before that it was worded Coming up Roses
  14. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
  15. Star Wars

Disclaimer: Some may have originated even earlier but I didn’t spend a lot of time double checking my sources because the origin isn’t the point of this post.

Beware Greek Warning

There is a point to this.

When you hear them, no further explanation is necessary.  The inference is clear. So, how many did you know? How many have you used?

I want to know what images do they evoke in your mind.  For example: “What you see is what you get ” as a reference to people speaks of nothing hidden here. It can be paired with “Take it or leave it.” If your character said this, what image does it project? An honest person? A person who doesn’t care to change?

How about “Not so funny when the shoe is on the other foot.” How often have kids heard this one from their parents.  We understand this to mean when you’re the one suffering the hard trial your perspective changes.

Two of the above quiz quotes I hate, and I want to smack anyone who uses them. Can you guess which ones?

“Not my circus, not my monkey.”  Strong, obnoxious I-do-not-care attitude about someone else’s problem.

And the dumbest one of all that speaks of immaturity and the free love era. “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.”  Does it bug you like it does me?

Don’t get all emotional on me.

All these quotes evoke emotions and paint pictures. And it’s easy as a writer to grab a familiar one to say what you want to say. Consider this: we are writers—we write; we create new phrases. We would love to see our words become premiere quotes on the tongues of generations to come. We also don’t want editors to mark up our work with red because we rely on clichés.

When the temptation comes to throw in an overused line, consider repurposing it a bit first. Rather than the noise in the room sounding like a swarm of bees, why not like a Nascar race?

My favorite Dove wrapper quote was a fun repurposing of the familiar. “Walk to the beat of your own tuba.”  What do you see when you read those words? Can you envision an individual who is content to be different? Maybe a nerdy type or someone who took up the tuba challenge when no one else would.

Now it’s your turn

Look at the clichés from my little quiz above or find your favorite and repurpose it to create a new word picture. Or you least favorite. J Here’s mine. “Love is never having to be someone you’re not.”

 

Share your repurposed quote in the comments or an original one.

 

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Conference Tip # 7 Having a Productive Appointment

Another Thursday, another reblog of a conference tip.

Writer's Patchwork Blog

Be sure to write your appointment down on your conference schedule so you won't forget. Being on time is crucial. Be sure to write your appointment down on your conference schedule so you won’t forget. Being on time is crucial.

All the tools I’ve talked about in the previous posts come into play here. You’ve done your research so you know who you hope to make an appointment with. Sign up for those appointments as soon as the conference leaders allow. Usually it’s after the first joint session. Or the next morning. Depending on whether the conference starts with a pre-conference meeting the night before or a morning session. Consult your list if your number one choice has no open appointments. Be prepared to make appointments with those lower on your list. Try to find those number one choices at meal time or break time.

Proper etiquette

Appointments run all day. You will most likely have an appointment during a class you are taking. Watch the clock. Teachers are accustomed…

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How God Answered This Writer’s Fleece

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My fleece before the Lord involved finances not sheepskin.

In 2006 while on a mission trip in the Philippines I heard the Lord stirring in my heart to get serious about writing again. I’d put it aside as my life got busier and my discouragement heightened regarding getting paid for publication. I was alone on my writing journey and tired of the whole thing. But the prompting wouldn’t go away. When I arrived home, I challenged the Lord as Gideon had. I placed a fleece before God. “If you really want me to write again, I want to take this online writing course presented through the Christian Writer’s Guild. It’s pretty pricey and I don’t have the funds. If you want me to do this, provide the tuition.”

I’m sure God laughed at my resistance and at the same time said. “Cindy, watch how I answer this challenge.”

Shortly after I shared my fleece challenge with my husband, I got a letter in the mail. Months earlier I had received a letter from the same law firm regarding a class action suit against a car dealership. Apparently, they had run credit checks on mass numbers of people before sending out ads for their sale. This is illegal and the company was being sued. I was on the list of defendants. I thought at the time, “Why not.” I figured I would get a few dollars.

Well, the most recent letter confirmed I was receiving a settlement. I followed all the directions in the letter. Even confirming the law firm and lawsuit were legitimate before giving them my social security number. When the check arrived it was exactly what I needed to pay for the course. God couldn’t have made it any clearer. I enrolled in the two-year course, completing it in a year. When provides such clear direction you don’t mess around.

Next, I asked God for provision to attend the Writing for the Soul conference in Colorado, put on by Jerry Jenkins founder of the Christian Writer’s Guild. He reminded me I had enough credit card points to provide my airfare. I had never before redeemed any points and didn’t realize tickets were an

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Jerry Jenkins and I

option.

On the plane I sat with an author who told me how to write an elevator pitch. (I didn’t even know what that was.) At the conference, Susan King, editor of the Upper Room gave me tips on how to approach editors and publishers during appointments. I meet lots of writes at various stages of their careers and made new friends. I signed up for the journeymen course through CWG for fiction writing.

I was walking the path God had laid out for me and there was no turning back. I had to develop thick-skin and quell jealousy when it appeared someone’s path to publication was easier than mine. I struggled with prioritizing and allowing myself the pleasure of the writer’s moniker. (I still do.)

In the past ten years I have attended a writer’s conference every year. Although it is usually Write to Publish which is in my own backyard in Wheaton, Illinois. Looking back over these years I’ve seen how much one fleece has given me boldness to ask God for more direction. He continues to bring people and opportunities into my life that reinforce God’s calling to write.

The path gets rocky and hairpin curves abound but I know this is the journey he has set me on. It is up to me whether I will continue following his direction or, as in the past, sideline myself. I think this time I will reach my goal of multiple books published. God had provided support through other writers, their blogs, writing books and conferences. He has placed me in a community of wordsmiths whose goal I have embraced. We help one another get published and fulfill God’s calling on our lives. If not for that fleece and His clear answer I know I won’t be continuing on this less that glamorous undertaking.

 

What are your writing goals? What is happening in your life to guide you to your goals? Do you sense God’s leading? Please share with me in the comments; I’d love to hear about it.

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Conference Tip # 6 Practice Your Pitch

Thursday is repost Writer’s Conference tips from last year. Today I talk about practicing your pitch. The pitch is an important tool in your writer’s tool box. Don’t wait until the last minute to perfect it.

Writer's Patchwork Blog

baseball-1 Practicing your writing pitch until its smooth is another key to get attention for your manuscript.

Preparing and doing a pitch is probably my least favorite thing to do. I find it hard to memorize and say it smoothly. There. I’ve admitted it to everyone. I love being a character on stage. I’m pretty comfortable with public speaking, I am the one nominated on mission trips to break the ice with the natives. But giving my pitch. My mind goes blank or the pitch comes out anything but perfect. Why? No idea. Maybe unlike a play where I am another character, this statement is all about me and my work. Promoting myself is hard for me.

Parts of a pitch

First you need a hook—a sentence to grab attention. Characters or topic and a final sentence to bring out the response: tell me more. A pitch is a few sentences…

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Ten years in the Making: A Book Contract

contract

 

If you follow me on Facebook, you saw my recent announcement. I received my first book contract. It only took 10 years to get there. Oh, let’s not forget 20 rejections, many rewrites and several edits. Years of improving my writing skills through online writing courses and writing books.  Ten years of attending conferences. Submitting to magazines and websites with both success and failure. I’ve made the acquaintance of many writers, both newbies and seasoned pros. During my ten year journey I have added agents and publishers to that list of acquaintances.

Help others on the journey

I’ve written over a hundred book reviews and supported my fellow-writers anyway I can. I enjoy helping promote their books and sharing words of affirmation when they were discouraged. I have purposed to invest in others while I worked toward the illusive contract.

Keep learning

Actions such as joining critique groups, following writing blogs and reading a lot propelled me toward the goal of publication. This has been ten years of perseverance and determination. I’d confess “I am a writer” when I wanted to keep that proclamation to myself. Established writers encouraged me to learn how to use social media.  Then I started this blog, Writer’s Patchwork, where all these writerly parts are sown together into the bigger quilt of gaining a contract. (Clever play on words.)

Cindy's Editor's Choice Award-2

My award. I am so blessed.

Never give up

Anyway, the point I’m trying to press home is don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged and keep helping others in the industry. Keep focusing on your goal and over time you’ll get that book contract.

Come follow me

It will probably be a year before my novel will be available for sale. During that time, I will be posting the next stretch of my journey. Even though I have a contract, a mountain-load of work remains to be done before I see my book in print. I’ll share my experiences in hopes of inspiring all of you to keep going. And give you a glimpse into the process of contract to book shelf.

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