Saturday, July 18, 2015

All Write Now! Conference Notes: Janet L. Cannon on "Building Your Writer's Platform"

When I first heard that the opening group session at the All Write Now! Conference at SEMO was "Building Your Writers' Platform," I thought, Oh, no. not that again.
It's not that I don't care about my writer's platform, I really do. It's just that I've read about that same topic and have heard speakers talk about it several times over the past few years. 
But, I'm happy to say I was pleasantly surprised. 

Whoever said "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," was wrong because I learned a few new tricks, courtesy of technology teacher, Janet L. Cannon, who gave an enthusiastic presentation, supplemented by questions and comments from the audience. 

Here are some suggestions which bear repeating:

* Know your audience

* Expand your public platform -- participate in social media, present workshops, win contests, join clubs, attend conferences/workshops, meet agents/editors/publishers and other writers

 * Expand your circles of interest (e.g., gym, church, volunteer activities)

 * Put your writer’s signature on your e-mails (Note to self: Do this!)

 *Make a plan (short-term, mid-range, long-term)

 * It’s okay to fail; if one way doesn’t work, try something else

 * Have a Plan “B”

 * Post questions and engaging content

 * Respond in a timely manner

 * Publish a small collection of your work

 * Focus, but not on sales; overselling turns people off

 * Use photos and videos in your posts

 * Have color wheels or call-to-action buttons (orange is a stimulating color--I didn't know that!)

 * Build relationships; have a circle of writers and friends (I love that the emphasis was on building relationships and not on "networking")

 * Don’t pay for followers (but it's okay to give away free stuff, like books or samples of your work)

 * Use #Hashtags to increase searchability (but your post has to be public, and don’t use too many #hashtags)

* It's all right to mix professional and personal information on your blog or website because your readers want to get to know you

* Show your personality

 * Your attitude determines your success

 * Always be professional, even if others are not (this was repeated three times)

How about you? Any words of wisdom to pass along about building your writer's platform?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Notes from Dr. Susan Swartwout on Writing Talismans

Last Saturday I attended the second annual All Write Now! Conference on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.

The opening keynote speaker was Dr. Susan Swartwout, whose gothic poetry book, Odd Beauty, Strange Fruit, will be available soon from Brick Mantel Books.

During her presentation, Dr. Swartwout spoke with wisdom, grace, and enthusiasm on the topic of writing talismans.

According to the dictionary, a talisman is "something producing apparently magical or miraculous effects."

Dr. Swartwout shared that during her career she was given the talismans of "persistence" and "crap shoot" by two writers, so she wanted to pass along a few talismans other writers can use.

* Write daily. "Don't ignore your muse." No matter if you journal, blog, or prefer another form of writing, find the will, desire, and drive to write every day.

* Write yourself. "Don't try to be your favorite writer." Write what you know, or what you can know, or what you want to learn more about.

* Never stop learning. Read! Reach outside your comfort zone and read works you wouldn't normally read. Enlarge your vocabulary. She quoted E.L. Doctorow, "Start from nothing and learn as you go."

* Spill it! Write as fast as you can. Let your ideas flow honestly. Don't listen to the voice of your internal editor, or your mother, or someone else trying to filter your words on the page. And keep in mind your first draft is your worst draft.

* Take risks. Don't take the easy way by avoiding uncomfortable topics, but also don't overshare. She gave an example of a man who wrote in too much detail about one of his body parts. She suggested keeping a dream journal to record your dreams as soon as you wake up so you can capture the "raw ghosts" wandering around trying to break through your subconscious.

* Write with enthusiasm! She compared writing with enthusiasm to smiling when answering the phone. Write with zest and have fun. The first thing a writer should be is excited!

She wrapped up her talk by suggesting writers use their superpowers for good, because, she said, "Nobody else can do it but you!"

So, how about you? Do you have a writing talisman to share?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

All Write Now! Conference Offers Writing Advice, Inspiration, and Publication Opportunities

I'm excited to be speaking at the Second Annual All Write Now! Conference next weekend, Saturday, July, 11, on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University in the historic Mississippi River city of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.!schedule/cl2i
Courtesy of All Write Now!
Registration kicks off at 8 a.m. July 11 on the fourth floor of the University Center (pictured at left).

The welcome address and introduction of the faculty begins at 8:30.

At 8:45,  Dr. Susan Swartwout, Professor at Southeast Missouri State University and Editor/Publisher of the SEMO University Press, will give the opening keynote address.

The opening group session starts at 9:15 with Janet L. Cannon, Technology Instructor, who will address the topic of  "Building Your Writer's Platform"

The luncheon keynote speaker will be New York Times best-selling author, Angie Fox.

Throughout the day, breakout sessions will cover a wide range of topics, such as: fiction, poetry, prose, personal essays, newspaper writing, children and YA, romance, networking, book cover design, and much more.

Breakout speakers include:
Eileen Dryer, New York Times best-selling romance author.
Dr. Allison Joseph, Associate Professor and Director of SIU-C Creative Writing Program
Bob Miller, Editor of Southeastern Missouri News
Margo Dill, Children and YA author and editor
Ellie Searl, Publishta and book designer
Catherine Rankovich, author, editor and teacher
Donna Volkenannt, writer, editor, and teacher

Afternoon pitch sessions feature the following publishers:

Amphorae Publishing Group, (which includes Blank Slate Press, Walrus Publishing, and Treehouse Publishing Group), with Kristina Blank Makansi, Lisa Miller, and Donna Essner

Brick Mantle Books/Open Books Press, Pen & Publish with Jennifer Geist

Deadly Publishing, LLC, with Sharon Woods Hopkins and Bill Hopkins

Rocking Horse Publishing, with Robin Tidwell

Conference co-chairs Mary Rechenberg and Donna Essner have done an excellent job planning and organizing this special event, along with Marcie Upchurch, who interviewed speakers for the blog; Laura Luttrell, who served as contest coordinator; and Janet L. Cannon, who designed their spectacular website. These women and everyone else involved with this conference are definitely first-class professionals!

The All Write Now! conference also features door prizes, contest announcements, and a mystery grand prize.

For complete details, visit the All Write Now! Conference website.

Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V - Interviews with Lonnie Whitaker and Dr. Barri Bumgarner

Here is the second installment of interviews with contributors who have stories in Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V , from Ozark Writers, I...