Starting Out

I’m in the process of preparing for a school visit I have later in the week for a group of 6th grade students at a local elementary school. The teacher wants me to talk about writing so I can encourage those who may one day want to be writers.

There is so much to share. The journey I took, like most writers, was one of stepping stones and building blocks. One step led to another, which led to another, etc. But one of the main things I want to stress to these students is the importance of learning, especially at their age.

It is now that they should be reading all they can get their hands on. It is now that they should be developing their spelling and grammar skills. Knowing how thoughts are expressed in a written format, and knowing how to putĀ  one’s thoughts and ideas down coherently at an early age can only increase one’s chances of publication later on.

I am so thankful for some of the tough English teachers I had growing up. I didn’t enjoy those classes at that time, but I did do one thing: I learned. And that learning has opened up some amazing writing doors for me.

It’s Here!

What an amazing feeling to be holding my first published book! It’s a mix of shock, wonder, and happiness held together by a vague sense of unreality. This has been an almost 3 year in the making process and I am very pleased with the results. (Notice the smile!)

Me holding my first published book!

Check Out These Book Trailers!

To the right you will find links to two book trailers for my new book, The Declaration of Independence from A to Z. The first one I put together, and the second one was created by the illustrator of the book, Layne Johnson. Enjoy!

Take Two

This weekend I spent a few hours on Saturday on the remake of one of my book promos. The audio on the original was poor, so I took the original monologue but used a different background. This week I will edit the video and add titles so it can be used as a promotional piece.

Sometimes things need to be redone. An article needs to be reworded or a character needs to be redeveloped. Whatever the case, we should not balk too much when we have to take a second try at something. I think it encourages creativity and flexibility.

What have you had to redo lately?

In the Details

It’s a good thing I like to research. I never realized that much of my writing (perhaps 60% or more) involves research of some sort. Whether it’s looking up facts about early American history, shipping trade along the California coast, or confirming Bible passages, I’m constantly taking time off from writing to look up details.

But that’s okay. I want my stories to be accurate, and I love adding tidbits of information that will make my work interesting to my readers.

Currently I’m working on developing my school visit program. I’ve already scoured the library for books and I’ve electronically visited the digital collections of the Library of Congress to find those wonderful snippets that will make my visit a memorable one. I even have a family member in Virginia checking on some facts when she visits Colonial Williamsburg.

Research is an important aspect of writing. I hope you’re taking the time to get “in the details.”

Domino Effect

Do you ever think about how one thing leads to another? If I hadn’t offered to help my friend improve her writing, I wouldn’t have been bitten by the writing bug. And if I hadn’t been written by the writing bug at that time, I wouldn’t be having a book coming out next month. One domino drops, and a whole sequence starts moving.

I may have had a little domino effect today. If I hadn’t taken time to make a phone call about a non-writing matter this morning, the person I called would have never known I was a writer. And if that person didn’t know I was a writer, I may not have an opportunity for a possible event regarding my book.

We never know where our steps will take us, but if we never step out and move in a direction, we’ll never know what potentials are waiting for us.

Where are your dominos leading you?

Setting Goals

As 2010 quickly approaches, it’s time to rethink goals, especially when it comes to writing. What is it that you want to accomplish? What is your vision for this upcoming year? What steps, even small ones at first, can you take to help make those goals a reality?

Proverbs 29:18a says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” We must have a purpose to what we do. Personally, I have given my writing for 2010 to the Lord. I feel He needs to be the One to direct me in how He wants me to use this gift of words.

How about you? What goals are you setting for 2010?

Keeping Current Events

I am noticing as I prepare for the release of my first book, The Declaration of Independence from A to Z, that it is necessary to keep events current. With facebook, blogs, and author pages to think about, I need to make sure that I am posting regularly, and that I keep on top of upcoming dates.

Have I listed my book’s release date on all sites? Have I kept up with book signings, making sure I post correct dates, times, and locations? Is my photo current? Have I posted my book’s image?

It is important to keep all this up-to-date. You want potential fans to find your book. If necessary, mark a day on your calendar every week or every other week to specifically work on updates.

And it is also important to keep looking for new marketing ideas. I want to post a video to both youtube and Amazon’s author page. This is exposure time, and an author needs to get his/her book out into the public eye.

What are you doing to keep current your events?

Staying Ahead of the Holidays

If you want to write for magazines, you will need to think ahead when it’s time to submit your articles or stories. Most magazines work at least 6 months in advance. That great Christmas craft could be needed in the heat of the summer, and that fun Fourth of July picnic article could possibly be turned in while the temperatures are freezing.

It’s not always easy to have an advanced mindset, especially when temperatures or seasons are the opposite of what you’re writing about. But there are a few things you can do to help.

Surround yourself with your material. Try playing seasonal music or have pictures that represent that time of year. Immerse yourself in your research books to get the feel for that time period. Read newspapers or other magazines that can bring insight to the weather, clothing, and seasonal activities.

With a few helps you can be well on your way of staying ahead of the holidays so you can land some great magazine assignments.

Counting Down

This is the time of year where most people start counting down the number of days before Christmas. Time is short because there are lots to do before that wonderful day. As a writer, though, I don’t only count down to Christmas; I count down to Christmas vacation.

My kids get two weeks off from school. That’s two weeks where it is extremely difficult to write because the house gets noisier with them all at home. So when I think of counting down, I take into consideration that there are so many days left for writing with limited interruptions. Currently, I have 7 1/2 days left to finish 4 assignments if I want to have a more relaxed Christmas. If I don’t get them done by then, I will still have a little over two weeks to finish, but then I know my creativity will be stressed.

Don’t get me wrong: I love my kids and I enjoy my time with them. But someone is paying me for quality writing, so I must deliver in the best way I can; and that way is best achieved with as little distractions as possible.

So how is your countdown to Christmas?