Inspiration Abounds at a Writing Workshop: Getting out of our Zone and Into the Rooms with other Writers (Part 3).

As promised from my prior blog post, here is Part 3 which dives into my final day at the Midwest Writers Workshop. I wrote this post for readers who are curious about my journey and for fellow writers who would like a greater insight into the business of being an author. This is my experience and not heavily weighted in note taking.

My all-day intensive session with Jane Friedman was aimed at published authors and my best guess at how many authors came together to hear Jane teach was, oh, about forty authors.

Rather than a variety of break-out sessions in this workshop as before, this was bootcamp with Jane Friedman, an author and industry leader. I’ve been following Jane in her blog posts and social media sharing since the early days of writing early drafts to my memoir, now published. I had first met Jane in person when attending a writer’s conference, here in Cincinnati. For anyone who is aspiring to connect with their readers, I can’t recommend her enough.  

      For starters, she had us break up into small teams, each team to a table. Teams were based on genre or the category we write in. At my table, were three other creative nonfiction authors. Going around the room, we had teams in sci-fi, self-help, inspirational/religion, young adult, mystery, romance, children’s, and a few more.  With much of our work for the day being dependent on writers helping writers, teaming up with authors in our same genre worked well.   

SWOT ANALYSIS

In teams, we discussed the SWOT analysis. SWOT is the acronym for strengths – weaknesses – opportunities – and – threats. I was already somewhat familiar with this business tool, having learned it when in a work-related training at my job place, the public library.

Jane takes this acronym one letter further: SWOTF and no, I don’t think I can pronounce that acronym, although she did, somehow. In SWOTF, the F is for fears. It’s a framework for taking an inventory to identify and analyze the factors which can impact the viability of a project, product, place or person—or an author’s book and outreach to readers.

WEBSITE ANALYSIS

We discussed the importance of having a landing page for readers to discover us and our books. For me and many others, the landing page is our website. Jane asked for three volunteers to share their website. I was the first volunteer. On an overhead projector screen, we watched her go through my website, discussing the strengths in navigating it. From her analysis, I learned where and how I could either improve or change things up. Slowly but surely, you may notice some changes in my website and some, as subtle as they are may go unnoticed.

For one, I removed the huge (huge!) picture that my website template defaulted to when setting it up. This gets rid of clutter and moves you, the website visitor directly into what I want to share.

It was suggested I use a pop-up window for inviting people to subscribe. I might do that. As it is now, it is a bit obscure, found under my Contact and Media Page.

It was suggested that on the menu for my blog, I give a detailed blurb of what my blog is about and why I blog. I plan to do this—once I learn how the techy hands-on work to create that.

I updated my bio as found under the About tab.

OUTREACH and LISTENING

Jane shared the many ways we can engage with readers, from on-line to in person. And taking it further, we discussed how to share and what to share, especially when it comes to a world of strangers on the internet.

Regarding listening, our readers are who we care about. Before anyone read my book, I could describe it, but my words of kudos no longer hold their weight. Rather, it is what readers have to say about my book and their words are the most important tools I have for sharing with those who haven’t yet read my book as to what people think of it.

Going a step further, we discussed who comparable authors are. I kind of already knew this, from when I was looking for a publisher— that’s one of the things publishers want to know—who can we compare you to?  One of my comp authors is Brianna Karp, author of The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness: A Memoir. Jane took us through some online exercises, which in part had us look at what readers of comparable books are saying. This information can be helpful in broadening our outreach.

AND MORE

Jane also shared hidden gems with us, from helpful links to other resources. Again, watching on the overhead projector, we followed along as she took us through tools we can use to amp up our exposure as authors.

Learning from professionals in our chosen craft, whether our craft is writing or another art, is an excellent way to continue our education and improve our knowledge and skills. This means getting out of zone, which is often one of solitude or at best small with only a handful of other like-minded friends. It means showing up to a workshop, convention, conference, or the like and meeting new people.

Look forward to Part 4 of this five-part blog series, coming next weekend. In Part 4, I will share my experience in the logistics of getting into the rooms with others. Then, Part 5 will be a wrap-up.   

To get out of our zone and into the rooms with others is an invaluable way to build upon our strengths. Together, we can create a better community. Please share in the comments any suggestions or experience you have for joining others in a common goal and what this connection can or could mean to you. 

If you like what I write, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts.

-Elle-

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Inspiration Abounds at a Writing Workshop: Getting out of our Zone and Into the Rooms with other Writers (Part 2).

We can build on our skilled craft and interests. It takes getting out of our zone, which can often be one of solitude, and into the rooms with others to join forces in a shared unity. Recently, I attended the annual Midwest Writers Workshop (July 22-24, 2019), held at the Ball State University Alumni Center in Muncie, Indiana. This is Part 2 of a five-part series as I share what it was like for me to go to this event.

Learning from professionals in our chosen craft, whether our craft is writing or another art, is an excellent way to continue our education and improve our knowledge and skills.   


I was reminded of the privilege of not only being a writer, but of being a very real part of a community who values writing and who also consider the art of writing to be as essential as living and breathing. Midwest Writers Workshop was a full three days with break-out sessions to choose from, led by an array of industry leaders and authors, all so giving in their time and expertise.

Chronicling Social History
Writing Creative Nonfiction with a Social Justice Lens
Michael McColly

I believe I’m not alone to say I was drawn into the sessions led by Michael McColly, author and journalist. He had a full house of about twenty people in his room for each session I attended. In conversational style, we discussed the seriousness in our role as creative nonfiction authors to educate our readers in the social construct of our communities, whether it is to bring awareness of current social injustices or whether it is to take people back in time to when things were different in order to explore how we got to where we are today in our societal norms.

By his own experience in writing, McColly explained in detail that our narrative reflections speak volumes to our readers, bringing issues out of our own cultural experiences to create a historical account. These issues are often ignored, overlooked, or are considered too controversial to bring to light. Yet, we have a story to tell and we must tell it, uncovering misinformation and unveiling immoral efforts.  

McColly succinctly states (quote) “….we can use our skills to inform, educate, inspire, and hold people in positions of power accountable for their failures to act.”

My own nonfiction writing often centers on what it’s like to be down on our luck and how we can help others and overall our communities. McColly has shown me that I am on the right path and that I mustn’t let go of my passion to encourage others to see a different way of living, whether through empathy or action or both. He and others have taught me skills in research, descriptive characterization when writing and so much more. I will go on to use these tools in my personal narrative essays.

Research:
The Truth That Makes Your Lies Believable
Matthew Clemens

This break-out session gave me insight for the development of the work I am doing to bring my second book alive. You see, Clemens is a fiction author with several mystery and crime books. He also works in collaboration with one other writer to bring the TV hit show, CSI to its success.

With animation to his energetic gait in facing the classroom, Clemens shared that for his fictional stories to ring true, even though they aren’t true, he first does research. He visits locations and cities in which places in his stories will resemble or accurately portray. He talks with people as he goes about his day-to-day activities. By experiencing people and places, he is then able to give credence to his narrative stories.

The book I plan to bring you next is a biography of my maternal great-grandmother, Marie (1904-1987). For those of you who read my memoir, Out of Chaos, you may recall she was an interwoven and integral person in my true story. Marie was a changemaker in a time when women were typically homemakers. Clemens has shown me I must dig deep into the events which shaped our society during the era in which she lived.

Additional Highlights

Switching gears from the depth found in McColly and Clemen’s sessions, Ashley Hope Perez presented the light-hearted Get Inspired: Find Time to Write and Be Happy. Under her guidance, our class explored how to overcome obstacles in our writing life. Obstacles fall into two categories, emotional and logistical, and can vary for each writer.

Aside from Michael McColly, Matthew Clemons, and Ashley Hope Perez, many other authors were among us to share their expertise. One was Dianne Drake, who gave a presentation which centered on her career with Harlequin Romance Books. Drake’s presentation closed out my second day of break-out sessions. Come evening hour, we all gathered in the assembly room for keynote speaker, John Gilstrap, award winning author of thriller novels.

On my schedule for the next day, my final day, was an intensive bootcamp with industry leader and author, Jane Friedman. In next week’s blog post, I will dig in and share about my time with her.

To get out of our zone and into the rooms with others is an invaluable way to build upon our strengths. Together, we can create a better community. Please share in the comments any suggestions or experience you have for joining others in a common goal and what this connection can or could mean to you. 

If you like what I write, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts.

-Elle-

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Inspiration Abounds at a Writing Workshop: Getting out of our Zone and Into the Rooms with other Writers.

Together, we can build upon our skilled craft.

Do you sometimes find yourself all too comfortable in your zone, wondering if it’s worth it to do something different? I can assure you that yes; it is worth it and much more. Writing in solitude—or from my easy chair with my pet birds chirping and cheering me on—can and often seems to be the norm for me. However, it is well worth it for us to get out of the usual solitary routine by joining forces with others in a shared unity over our creative potential.

Recently, I attended the annual Midwest Writers Workshop (July 22-24, 2019), held at the Ball State University Alumni Center in Muncie, Indiana. After my return, I attended the next scheduled meeting with a local writers group I am in (“A Private Writing Circle”). In our meeting, I was encouraged to do a five-part blog series to explore and share my experience in this workshop.

Today is Part 1 of this series. Next weekend and then the following few weekends, I’ll post again, moving from Part 1 to Part 5. Here’s what to look forward to in the coming posts:

Part 2: Details from the workshop sessions (or “break-out sessions”) in which I gained valuable insight from Michael McColly, author and journalist, from Matthew Clemens (CSI TV crime show writer), from Ashley Hope Perez, young adult author, and from others.

Learning from professionals in our chosen craft, whether our craft is writing or another art, is an excellent way to continue our education and improve our knowledge and skills. 

Part 3: My bootcamp experience as taught by industry leader and author, Jane Friedman. This was an all-day intensive session for authors and couldn’t have been more enjoyable had it not been presented by Jane Friedman.

Part 4: The logistics of getting out of our zone or easy chair and into the rooms with others. This will include some basic how-to in registration, lodging, and more.

Part 5: An overall scope of the benefits in attending a workshop or a conference or seminar. If you go with an ear to listen, there will be speakers who seem to be talking directly to you. Some have overcome great obstacles to succeed.

We, too, can find the courage to succeed! 

Attending Midwest Writers Workshop

In essence, my attendance at this workshop reminded me of the privilege of not only being a writer, but of being a very real part of a community who values writing and who also consider the art of writing to be as essential as living and breathing. Of the themes I noticed which kept being voiced by attendees and presenters alike, is the need for diversity and to use our writing tools to make a real positive change in our communities and with the people who make up our home towns.

Throughout the event, I was ever meeting new people, and often exchanging contact information with new friends made. One such friend was excited to hear me reach out to her a few days out from the close of the event. I smiled when reading her reply email, “my first table buddy.” 

In the days following the workshop, I couldn’t help but notice a renewed spirit in me; an appreciation for this greater writing community. It is something that nurtures me as a person and helps foster the written work I create.

I look forward to sharing more with you. Look for Part 2 next weekend on this blog. For now, please share in the comments as to what it is like for you to get out of your norm. Also share any questions you may have that you’d like me to answer as I explore this five-part series.

If you like what I write, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts.

-Elle-

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Keeping our Family Legacies Alive

Memorial Day:

  • A time of remembering and to honor loved ones
  • A day off from work
  • The time to be with family over a barbecue

The weather is usually warm, as it is right before the summer heat. Some families visit grave sites with flowers for their lost loved ones. This time and these moments invite our stories and make us think about preserving our family legacies, some who had died in war or in service while safeguarding America.

——————————–

FAST FACTS OF THE HISTORY OF MEMORIAL DAY :

The practice of a day of memorial started in ancient times, long before America.

Way back in 431 B.C., soldiers killed in the Peloponnesian War were honored with a public funeral and speech given by Greek statesman Pericles. It was likely the first communal ceremony of recognizing those who had given their life in war. Year after year, ancient Greeks and Romans hosted similar commemorations.

Early memorial celebrations in the United States….

One of the first “Memorial Day” celebrations in the United States was by newly freed slaves. On May 1, 1865, in Charleston, South Carolina, following the end of the Civil War, members of the U.S. Colored Troops and others honored the dead with flowers, prayers, and honorary moments of silence.

By the late 1860s, many Americans had begun hosting tributes to the war’s fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers and flags. States and organizations stepped up in action to pause and remember those gone. In 1886, the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus, Georgia resolved to commemorate the fallen once a year. This day of memorial became commonly known as “Decoration Day.”  

The Poppy Flower

In the spring of 1915, a Georgia teacher and volunteer war worker, Moina Michael began a campaign to make the poppy a symbol of tribute to all who died in war. Her action was in response to bright red flowers (poppies) being planted in the ravaged lands of France, war-torn by The Great War (WWI). The poppy remains a symbol of remembrance to this day.

The day of memorial becomes Memorial Day.

Later, in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. At first, it was but a three-day weekend for federal employees to pause in their work and honor those who died in war. Three years later, in 1971, Memorial Day became a federal holiday for everyone in America.  

*Historical facts above, in part, were retrieved 5/27/2019 from History Channel, online.

MEMORIAL DAY:

As we gather with family and loved ones this Memorial Day, let’s regard our family legacies with sweet remembrance and a moment of honor, carrying their stories through our generations to come. If we don’t tell our story and the story of our ancestors–and our own story–who will?

—————————

My father, Robert Wells (1943-2015) served a two-year tour in the Navy during the Vietnam War. If only I could remember him, however I am honored he fought for America.

I remember my maternal great-grandmother, Marie (1904-1987). My current writing project, a biography of Marie, involves research in archived newspapers which documented her achievements. Marie was an active participant in the American Legion Auxiliary. Her membership began in the 1940s and she served as Chapter President for her local community and later as District President for her greater area.

As the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization, this auxiliary has many committees which voluntarily serve to help war veterans. One is the Red Poppy Committee. Only today, in preparing for this blog post, did I come to understand the correlation between my research discoveries of her and why poppies are a symbol for this national holiday.  

What is there for you to learn about your family legacies? For those who have read my debut book, Out of Chaos: A Memoir, you may remember my maternal great-grandmother, Marie, or Nana as I called her. When I was young, I struggled to live up to her standards, and am now, through my research coming to a better understanding of who Marie was.

There are many ways to keep your family memories alive, not limited to writing a biography as I am. I have a friend (his name is Andrew,) who, often writes a letter about his remembered loved ones, and passes it on to his many friends—I get his postmarked letters in my mailbox.

Please share in the comments how you can carry their stories forward to future generations.

RESOURCES:

American Legion Auxiliary at
https://www.legion.org/auxiliary

History Channel, online at https://www.history.com/news/8-things-you-may-not-know-about-memorial-day

Moina Michael, American Humanitarian at http://www.greatwar.co.uk/people/moina-belle-michael-biography.htm

Robert Wells, my father, U.S.N.R. 1969.
http://ellemottauthor.com/index.php/dedications/

Marie, my maternal great-grandmother and Past President of American Legion Auxiliary, District 3. http://ellemottauthor.com/index.php/dedications/

Have a safe and Happy Memorial Day weekend. I hope you carry these above thoughts into your days following our holiday.  -Elle-

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Creativity and Connection

Today’s post is about our creative potential, in that I share an experience without my author-hat to encourage you to let go and get creative. And then, donning my author-hat, I hope to meet you in person at soon-upcoming events.

Creativity and Connection

Google searching the meaning of creativity resulted in this: the act of turning imaginative ideas into reality. [And] Creativity is characterized by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions.

I believe that in each of us, we have this ability; an ability through our own creative hobbies to impress upon others the need for positive change in our communities, thereby encouraging others to act with us in making our world a better place for everyone. It’s a sense of connection; a sense of community.

The dictionary definition of hobby is: “A pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.” (Merriam-Webster).

The word hobby evokes an image of something you love to do, something you ache for and something you never seem to have quite enough time for. These creative hobbies could be most anything: singing, playing an instrument, sewing, knitting, woodworking, painting, drawing, or as in my case, writing.

When expressing creativity through hobbies, does this allow for more freedom, and a sense of free-flow relaxation and fun? –While the rest of us—those of us who perform music for money or audiences, or those of us who have published works—are we tied to commitment or promises? If there is a divide, there needn’t be. Rather, a goal could be to mesh our different venues and reasons for creativity.

Without My “Author-Hat”

Recently, I let go of my “author hat” and reveled in the freedom, relaxation, and fun of simple pure creation. It was with a professional singer who also took off her artist hat. In an online hang-out, several of us spent the evening in collaboration to write a song.

To start our jam/music/writing session, we “went around the room” sharing a few words of how we felt or what we were experiencing in our personal lives. This led to a list of words which got us started and led us to decide what the song would be about.

Meanwhile, our singer-friend strummed her guitar while we created the verses, lyrics, chords and melody. Sharing in part, below is from our created verses and lyrics which may give you an idea of the message we expressed through our creativity:

Music by Shelley Segal.

Stand straight,
Sit still,
Mouth shut,
Do my will,
So many voices say they know what’s best for me
Pressures reeling,
Watch me break through this ceiling
I am who I am,
I only have this time,
I have to make it mine,
And I don’t need your plans, Because I am who I am….

With My “Author-Hat”

My “author hat” will be going back on soon, as I look forward to two soon-upcoming commitments: Tongue & Groove Cincinnati, a Literary Salon and V-Day Hometown Monologues.

Tongue & Groove Cincinnati, a Literary Salon
Sunday, January 27, 2019
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. is arrival time and light snacks
6:00 – 8:00 p.m. is music and readings.
At the Clifton House B&B, 500 Terrace Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio
Limited Seating. Cost: $20 at the door.
Reserve your seat by email: tconner425@gmail.com

I’m open to ideas as to what excerpt from my memoir to read. If you plan to go and have a special request, let me know this week, and I will consider it. Also, I will have books for sale, cash price of $15.00 each.

-and-

V-Day Hometown Monologues
Saturday, February 9, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.
Women Writing for (a) Change
In Silverton at 6906 Plainfield Road, Cincinnati, Ohio

Advance tickets required, available online, in person, and by mail. Proceeds will benefit victims of domestic abuse. V-Day is a global movement to end violence against women.
Event tickets available from Women Writing for (a) Change.

I won’t have any books for sale at this event, but if you bring your book, I will be happy to sign it. My monologue for this show comes from Chapter 3 in my memoir, Out of Chaos. Slightly reworded, it’s titled, “Alone in the Dark without my Candy.”

Events tab is where you will find event details as available. To keep tabs on me, be sure to pop in from time to time to see any updates. I hope to visit with you.

Resources and credits for this post

Music by Shelley Segal, found on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/ShelleySegal
V-Day: A global organization dedicated through activism to end violence. https://www.vday.org/homepage.html
Out of Chaos: A Memoir: Read more about my debut book (link here).

Please share about your creativity; I’d like to know more– your comments could inspire others.

If you like what I post, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts, at a few times monthly.

-Elle-

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From 2018 to 2019: Inspired by memoir, focused on life today.

Happy New Year to my reading community. My journey through this past year has been one of hard work, and when daunting, you lifted me up with your encouragement.
Reading my newsletters, sharing in my journey through commenting on blog posts, and meeting up with me in person has been invaluable. At the end of this post, you’ll find a video highlighting this past year with you. And, please know that while I keep you in the know of new blog posts during 2019, my monthly newsletters are so-last-year.

The last month of 2018 was engaging. I attended a vigil in honor of National Homeless Persons Memorial Day. Drawn from personal experience, the homelessness plight is one I care passionately about and share about through my creative writing. On the weekend before Christmas, I participated in an author event. On Christmas Day, I shared my time with women at a shelter.

Recent Author Appearance

A Holiday Soiree took place at The Westin, Cincinnati on Saturday, December 22. It was a meet and greet event with local authors sharing their books.
At any time, you can see where I will be next by visiting my Author Appearances and Events Page, found under the tab, Media and Contact.

Recent Blog Posts

Christmas in the Community
Like me, many women at [The Esther Marie Hatton Center and Shelterhouse for Women] are also without the traditional family holiday gathering. This shelter is their refuge. It is a place with resources to regain strength, purpose, empowerment, and stability.
Christmas has passed but the needs of these women and others remain.


Homeless People are Dying Every Day: A Candlelight Vigil and an Excerpt from my Memoir.
Cities across America observe the annual National Homeless Persons Memorial Day on the day which has the shortest daylight hours. This year it was Friday, December 22. It is in memory of those who have died as a consequence of homelessness.

Many people in our communities are in need, whether struggling through homelessness or another difficulty. I hope you find my ideas and resources helpful as I blog about my journey to make our communities safe and inviting for everyone. Each of us may be limited in what we can do, but coming together in these opportunities, we, as a community make a difference.

From 2018 into 2019

As Year 2019 approaches, I looked back in our sharing through this blog. In January 2018, I was working diligently with my publishing house and shared with you my work-in-progress. Revisions on my end and editing on their end where taking off.

Excerpt from Persistence — Power — Positive Attitude…. (New Year’s WIP Update), posted January 13, 2018.

My publisher brought forth a few questions, “Why?” or “Didn’t this happen because of this?” There, I need to clue the reader in. This can be challenging. As a true story, the “whys and “why nots” can seem illogical. My homework is to show how chaos evolved into a new way of thinking or a new set of actions.

end of excerpt

I persisted to get my memoir ready for your hands.
Out of Chaos: A Memoir published in August 2018. This milestone has been momentous for me and I hope a life changer for others, too. Life is good today. Thank you for 2018. Together, we can make 2019 momentous and good.

https://youtu.be/Z54tFccRavI

Video from me to you: Sharing 2018 by Elle Mott. https://youtu.be/Z54tFccRavI

If you like what I post, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts, at a few times monthly.

-Elle-

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Book Fairs: Here’s why to go by Elle Mott

Yesterday, local authors and readers got together to put on a book fair. It was the Local Authors Day Event in Northern Kentucky, held at the main branch of the Boone County Public Library in Burlington, Kentucky.

Big thanks goes out to Kelsey Shackelford, Community Events Liaison with this library, for her dedication and commitment.

It was not my first year to show up, yet my first year to come with a published book. Like before, this was an awesome time to connect with readers and writers, alike. Yes, I sold a few books. More-so, it was an opportunity for me to share my journey with others and to hear what they are reading or writing.

While I have given a few author presentations before, this was my first time at an actual book fair with my book. It was so meaningful to have my good friend, Lorene sit beside me.

For those who have read my book, this is the same Lorene from Chapters 24 and 25 in Out of Chaos.: A Memoir.  

If you are a writer and wondering what are the “perks” to have a table at a book fair, here are but a few:

  • To connect with others who also practice the writing craft
  • To better understand the writing industry
  • To listen; really listen to book buyers and readers

If you are a reader and wondering “why go to a book fair” here are but a few reasons:

  • To support those who are sharing their written works
  • To get a first-hand knowledge of books that otherwise could go unnoticed
  • To grab a good read, perhaps at a reduced price from the retail cost
  • To pick up gifts for birthdays and holidays
  • To get to know the author behind a book you plan to read
  • To get your book autographed (how can you do that at Walmart?)

 


I hope to see you at the next book fair in my greater community.

Until then, please share your experience in either shopping for books at such events, or as a writer sharing your book with others.


PS
This same day also saw me on Chanel’s Lit Blog in the Writer Spotlight.

Here, in interview style, I share about my writing craft and my journey.

You can read all about it by linking here:  https://www.chardypublications.com/blog-1/in-the-spotlight-today-elle-mott

If you like what I post, please join my reading community by subscribing to get blog post updates and my newsletter, sent monthly.  Link here.

-Elle-

 

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Writers Conferences–nuts and bolts….

Writers Conferences—the nuts and bolts—and what you can get out of going to one.

•You’ll connect with new writer friends. Those connections are valuable especially since you’re all going through the process.

•Your newly met friends may become your allies and accountability partners.

•You’ll clarify your book concept. Every time you practice talking about your book (not just writing it), you’ll get clearer about the direction you want to take.

•You’ll learn things you didn’t expect to learn. Sessions, lunch gatherings, and happy-hour mingling will present opportunities, which you didn’t expect.

Attending a conference:

Here in my greater Cincinnati area, I’ve been to several writer’s conferences, workshops, and the like, each of which garnered from our community. Last weekend, September 29 & 30, I stepped it up a notch by attending a conference which invited writers from all-around. Although, still here in Cincinnati, people came from as far away as California, New York, and Canada.

Given by Writer’s Digest, it was at the Renaissance Hotel downtown, with a friendly hotel ambiance that was comfortable, and plush. Before even hitting the check-in table, I met up with an online friend, Amy for breakfast, to meet in person for the first time—she lives in the New York area. Amy is an industry leader when it comes to teaching new authors how to promote our book(s) and I’ve been one of her groupies for more than a year.

When my book was hitting publication, I retained her marketing services for her know-how and action that I see she puts in to her passion. You see, an author is always responsible for carrying some, if not all the burden in marketing efforts. A publisher; most any publisher won’t do it all, nor could they even if they tried. My publisher is involved in the social media end of things, but they can’t walk with me in my daily commute to promote my book.

My breakfast time with Amy was not to talk business, but for us to get to know one another on a more personal level. I already knew we are the same age (by two months, I’m the older one)—we were in a group video conference on the day of her last birthday. Come to find out over breakfast, we have much more than age in common. It was an invaluable connection.

∼∼   ∼∼    ∼∼

With about 75 writers and authors in attendance, we mingled in the conference room, anxious for the 9:00 hour to start it off. At the front of the room was the podium. We took our seats, with many seats to choose from and four chairs to each table, all facing the front. Each table came with a carafe of water and a place to put our complimentary coffee. Through small talk, we encouraged each other to be proud of our published books. This could be seen as many of us pulled our book out of our tote bag (or attaché case or backpack) and laid it prominently on our table.

The conference opened with a presentation by another well-respected industry leader, Jane Friedman. She gave us her experience in publishing options and then how to proceed once published (the latter of which I tuned in to).

The weekend continued, all day Saturday and much of Sunday, with break-out sessions, guest speakers, and networking with fellow writers through lunch. Our break-out sessions spanned the gamut from readership connection to social media use to audio book consideration, and oh, so much more.  Even Amy had her share of leading workshops during these break-outs.

Key-note speakers were Zetta Elliott (children’s author) and Tobias Buckell (sci-fi author). With the conference focused on diversity, Zetta shared her journey with us, as an African American woman who writes stories which give a voice to the diverse reality of children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aside from the structure in these sessions and listening to speakers, it proved to be an awesome opportunity to meet others. I learned from other authors who are a step or more ahead of me, and I shared my experience with those who are where I was a year or so ago.

Overall, it was great to see a big picture of opportunities and choices available to authors in our writing careers. This big picture will carry me forward as I continue to learn and make informed decisions, which ultimately will benefit readers.

A writing conference comes with nuggets:

•The craft and business of your writing life is enhanced when joining forces with others.

•It keeps you abreast of the rapidly changing shifts in the industry so that you can make informed decisions for the best-fit path in your journey.

•Its uplifting and motivational to be surrounded by other writers. The writing process can be solitary. Being surrounded by other writers who are also going through the process is motivating.

Conferences gives us the venue to invest in our dreams….

Like the protagonists in the books we read or write, we too have turning points in our journeys. A conference is our way of accepting the challenge and rising to the call. It means we are willing to invest in our dreams, learn all we can, teach others through our experience, and do the action.

If you are a writer, what are your thoughts? Have you ever attended a conference? Did your first conference change your outlook and attitude? What were some changes you saw in yourself after going to a conference?

If you are a reader, curious about my writing life, what are your thoughts? Have you ever attended a conference for your craft or profession? Did your first conference change your outlook and attitude? What were some changes you had after going to a conference? And if you knew your favorite author attended conferences, would this influence your opinion of that author?

Please join in the replying comments below. As writers and readers, we come together; it’s a “we thing.” -Elle-

 

 

 

 

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No longer in Chaos (Author Presentation)

Thank you to Tri-State Freethinkers (TSF) for asking me to share my journey at the September meeting.  TSF is a community involved, social, educational, and activist group. Speakers include local experts and organizations about the science of our world, experience of those from different backgrounds & causes that could use our help.  I was the first of four speakers on this night.

I discussed my debut book, a memoir: “Out of Chaos”.

Yes, my book is published and available for your reading. What is my book about? Well, that’s why I stepped up to the podium on this night at the TSF meeting. Through this group, I have had ample opportunities for volunteering. These volunteering commitments have given me a way to show my gratitude for life today, a life out of chaos.

A recent volunteer commitment took me to the Freestore Foodbank in downtown Cincinnati, near me, here on Liberty Street. It’s a choice pantry, laid out much like a grocery store. Volunteers are needed for keeping shelves stocked, bagging food, and helping customers. On that day, I was a runner. My job was to help load groceries into people’s cars or to help them gather their bags for their walk home. As we’d walk out together—me pushing their shopping cart to their car, it was easy to chat. One woman kept saying she was sorry for being so needy and for almost forgetting to get diapers.

I let her know there was no need to explain or be sorry. I’ve been there before, on the edge, wondering if I’d survive. I know what it is like—that raw empty feeling inside our gut, breaking down our mental and emotional cognition when having to depend on others for our very basics.

Yes, sometimes, I feel as though it’s an effort to choose to volunteer rather than hang out at home. But, I know that all I have to do is show up. From there, any inconvenience is uplifted as my happiness to get out of myself and be a real part of the community shows its face.

When we step up to volunteer, we make a difference in people’s lives. I know this. During the times I needed help, help was at times tough to find.  When I did get help; that help helped me help myself.

No matter what hardships we endure—or what mistakes we made—no matter where we go wrong or where society fails us, we can survive. And more than survive—by doing the action, we can make a life which gives us inner peace, a sense of belonging, purpose, and meaning.

 

A recap of my volunteering thus far with Tri-State Freethinkers:

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How about you? What difficulty have you faced and what has helped you to overcome such a troubling situation? Please share in the comments. Community is a “we thing.”

Together, we can and will make a difference; a positive difference!  -Elle-

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WIP Update: This Book is Happening!

Publishing my debut book is  exciting and a little scary. Have you ever created something only to wonder if people will like it?  Coming August 9 it’s aptly titled, “Out of Chaos: A Memoir.”

It is my true story of living in chaos, what happened to throw me into that chaos, what I did about it, and now, who I am today. At times, my story is dark and harrowing, yet I promise, it will end on a bright new way of living.

My book is finished, yeah! This journey has involved plenty of hard, yet creative and fun work in collaboration with my publishing house. And questions–oh, so many questions I’d bring to the table when I’d get ideas or wondered “why this way?” The entire publishing team was ever so patient, open to my ideas, and happy to talk about anything with me.  Last Friday, I saw this book’s fruition when I approved the latest proof. This book is happening!

Through my writing and publishing journey, I’ve met numerous supporting and incredible authors. Heartfelt gratitude goes out to my new friends and to my publishing house.

My two writing groups, one on-line, and one here locally in my community have also been invaluable.

No way, could I have gotten this far alone. In all of life, in our community endeavors, and in our own personal aspirations, it is a we thing.

Often, I was asked, “Why don’t you self-publish?” That’s the route many in my local writers group have taken and have been quite successful at doing so. Success means different things to different people, and mostly, I see my fellow authors who have self-published happy with their decision.

The idea of that (of self-publishing) seems overwhelming—I don’t have the skill set in this laborious and complex world. Creating a great book cover while meeting industry standards, perfecting interior design, expense of editors, worrying about metadata and distribution—oh how exhausting to ponder. And then, there’s distribution—I want my book available most anywhere and yet so many places are out there; some I’ve never even heard of. Time was also an issue—I work full-time, writing on my lunch breaks.

My publishing choice has proven to be perfect for me. I’ve gained insight, learned plenty and have felt my fears in publishing lifted as someone else (my publishing house) has done the heavy work garnered from my vision.

You may ask, “What came before yesterday’s finalized proof?”  

  • Ringing in the New Year, I expressed my Persistence, Power, and Positive Attitude to bring this book alive. (Link here).x
  • In late March, it was how I got through developmental editing. (Link here).x
  • In June, it was copy editing; it was my motto of Inspired by memoir, focused on life today. (Link here).

Look for my debut book in paperback and e-book, releasing August 9. “Out of Chaos: A Memoir” will be available on Amazon, Kindle, iTunes, Sony/Kobo, and Barnes & Noble Nook, to name but a few. Incoming reviews (from readers like you) will determine the distribution path into brick-and-mortar bookstores and libraries.

Closing this post, a shout-out with a big “thank you” to you for following my writing journey and encouraging me to keep going.  -Elle-

 

 

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